Protein Packed Nachos

Now that the new Quest Nutrition chips are in stores, I finally got my hands on a couple bags so I could try them out. First up: sea salt and sour cream and cheddar.

I’m not a giant chip eater– I really only grab a few chips if there’s a bowl sitting in front of me at a party. Other than that, they are something I could definitely live without (…and pretty much do). Because of this, I didn’t really feel like just eating the protein chips straight out of the bag.

Unfortunately Fortunately, I was starving and I needed to throw something together quickly. Quest Nachos it was!

To Make: (1 serving)

You Will Need:
1 bag of Sea Salt Quest Nutrition chips
4 oz. ground meat of choice (I used 99% lean ground turkey)
1 oz. cheddar cheese (shredded or chopped very small)
1/4 of a red bell pepper
1 slice onion
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
Shredded lettuce
4 cherry tomatoes
Hot sauce
Seasonings of choice (I used garlic powder, chili powder and cayenne pepper)

Before cooking

Before cooking

To Make:
Begin by preheating oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet, sauté meat with seasonings until halfway cooked. Add peppers, onion, mushrooms and stir occasionally until fully cooked.*

Empty bag of chips onto a baking sheet lined with foil and spread so they are flat.

Sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese over the chips.

Spoon meat mixture over top of the chips, spreading evenly.

Top with lettuce, tomatoes and the remainder of the cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes or until all the cheese is melted.

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*To cook my meat, I use a cast iron skillet. I add the meat and cover the bottom of the pan with water. I then add spices and cook most of the way, add in extras and cook until no pink remains.

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Protein Ice Cream

I didn’t used to be a big ice cream eater. We always had ice cream in the freezer at my house and I rarely touched it besides a bite here and there. A weird thing happened two years ago when I had mono: I became an ice cream fanatic. Before I even knew I had been plagued with mono for the third (!!) time, I recall NEEDING ice cream one night so badly that I walked to my car, parked far away, in the pouring rain to go to the connivence store. When I got sicker and couldn’t stomach any food a few days later, I made my mom bring me a McDonalds ice cream cone. It was the only thing I wanted to eat.

Since that bout of sickness, I LOVE ice cream–both eating and making it. I try not to eat ice cream every day, but with this protein ice cream, I can. IMG_4345

Ingredients:

1 scoop protein powder (I used Royal Sport LTD Whey 100)
3/4 to 1 cup almond milk
About 10 ice cubes
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

To Make:

Place all ingredients in a blender, starting with 3/4 cup almond milk. Break up ice. Blend continuously until a soft serve consistency forms. If it’s too thick and icy, add a little more almond milk until it becomes the right consistency.

Scoop out and top with toppings of your choice (I like peanut butter, chocolate chips, sprinkles and whipped cream).

*If you enjoy trying new protein powders, are looking for one, or are ready to change up your normal routine, I highly recommend Royal Sport LTD Whey 100. I have tried and enjoy all of the flavors with the ice cream sandwich being my favorite. I usually experience bad bloating and stomach problems from protein powders and this protein does not cause that reaction. Each serving is only 100 calories and 20 grams of protein which is nice for a snack. The powder also mixes extremely well with water or milk without using a blender for a simple shake. Try it out!

What I Ate Wednesday

It’s Wednesday which means it’s time for another What I Ate Wednesday with Jenn from Peas and Crayons

What I Ate Wednesday: Short Sentence Addition

This past weeks eats started with this. What is this? Homemade coffee Oreo ice cream. Yes. I went to work, was talking about how I planned to buy an ice cream maker and lo and behold, we had one in the back. I’ve made about 6 batches of ice cream so far including 2 batches of this coffee Oreo, chocolate coconut, blueberry brown sugar graham cracker, chocolate chip and a few failed attempts at almond milk ice cream.

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My newest obsession: Carrot Cake Oatmeal. It’s creamy, delicious and tastes like a carrot cake. I’ve had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner all on different days. I’m all about vegetables in my oatmeal normally so this is just a vitamin and nutrient win.

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The perfect pick-me-up. Find this chocolate bar–it is perfection.

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Not working consistently has left me plenty of time to bake. This Pumpkin Protein Cake was the first thing I attempted this week and it came out delicious. I’ll be sharing this recipe soon.

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I also made these protein brownies–not ready yet but not terrible.

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Cucumber rolls–not a baked good of course but harder than they look!

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and these sweet potato cupcakes of course.

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Why I Count Calories

This post has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Do I disclose the information or just keep it to myself?

If you’ve been a long time reader (or if you’ve just scrolled through posts), you know that I am a firm believer in living a lifestyle of eating and not living on a diet. I personally believe that diets set many up for failure because I know that when I can’t have something, I want it even more. I think that mentality holds true for most.

When I realized that my habits had become disordered, I started writing all my food down in a food journal. This was somewhat annoying and didn’t really do me any good. While I could see what I was eating, it didn’t really matter because my problem wasn’t that I ate five cookies and a pint of ice cream in one sitting, it was that I wasn’t eating enough.

That’s when I turned to My Fitness Pal to start tracking my food in the app and on the computer. This made it so much easier because I could see how many calories, carbs, fat and proteins I was eating every day and set a goal.

Since then, I’ve done a TON of research on reverse dieting, which is when you gradually increase your food intake in order to get a damaged metabolism back to normal. It’s a process used often for people coming off of physique competition prep periods so they don’t gain a lot of weight right away and it’s also used for people who have had eating disorders.

In the last few months, I’ve increased my “macros” (proteins, carbs and fat which equal up to calories) each week. Let me tell you, and I hate to say this, but I am so thankful that I started tracking my food.

Doing so makes me see how easily I got caught in the long rut of not eating enough. It’s not that I’m not hungry enough to eat, it’s that the food choices I make don’t have enough nutrients to help my body.

I don’t like counting calories. This is not permanent.

Some days I struggle to hit those numbers and other days it’s easy. Sometimes it’s like a game and I plan things out while lying in bed in the morning. Other times it’s incredibly frustrating to stay within those guidelines.

My goal is to keep increasing until I am eating enough to not only gain my metabolism back but build some lean muscle mass. I knew but didn’t want to believe it that your body cannot build muscle unless it’s in a caloric surplus. Your body also does not burn fat when in too much of a caloric deficit.  I repeat my little mantra often: food is fuel.

Whether or not you choose to count calories, macros, etc., doesn’t matter–the point is to find what works for you each and every day. Find a lifestyle you can sustain because what’s most important is being healthy.

Cauliflower Protein Pancakes

Sorry for the absence.

This week has been my first crazy one in grad school that was filled with a very long and tedious first draft of an article as well as a big presentation.  At least both are over, but I of course still have the final draft to finish and a midterm early next week to study for! All the big assignments always come at once. So stressful.

When I’m stressed is actually when I do the most cooking. Going to the grocery store and making food to enjoy for a few minutes definitely relaxes me for a bit.

Last week I bought a cauliflower solely for the reason that I was craving cauliflower pizza so I ended up having a TON left. After including some florets in a few meals, I decided to rice the whole thing up to have on hand for some cauliflower fried rice, a cauliflower and zucchini pancake and real pancakes.

Yes, I put cauliflower into pancakes and I will do it again, and ask you to do the same. So fluffy, moist and definitely filling. This picture shows two but it actually made three–I snuck one before taking a picture to taste test.

Pancakes

Cauliflower Protein Pancakes (Makes 3 pancakes)
You’ll Need:

1/3 cup riced cauliflower (put it in your food processor until it’s in tiny pieces)
1/2 Tablespoon coconut flour
1/2 scoop protein powder
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. stevia (or sweetener of choice)
Approx. 2 Tablespoons water/milk of choice
Oil/Spray for cooking

In a bowl, mix everything but the liquid.
Slowly add water or milk until the batter smooths out a little but is still thick. It should be a little thicker than regular pancake batter.

Heat a pan over low heat and spray with cooking spray or swirl oil around.

Put a dollop of pancake batter into the hot pan and spread out a little into desired size. Cook as you would a regular pancake, about 3 minutes, when bubbles start to form, flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes until done.

Keep pancakes on a warm plate in the oven while you make the rest. Top with your desired pancake toppings.

What I ate Wednesday (#4)

Today I’m linking up for What I Ate Wednesday with Jenn from Peas and Crayons. Thanks for hosting Jenn! 

This week it was hot hot hot here in Connecticut which gave me reason to enjoy some lighter fare as opposed to the usual. 

This chicken salad was the perfect lunch when it was 97 degrees outside. Creamy, cool and totally simple. You’d think that when i come up with simple recipes that I’d pull out my real camera but iPhone all the way here. Usually it’s already gone by the time I decide to put on a lens and pull out the big guns. Oh well. 

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Simply dice cooked boneless skinless chicken, mix in half an avocado, a teaspoon of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of spicy brown mustard, a handful each of spinach and sliced cherry tomatoes. Mix and dig in. 

I also enjoyed this little apple salad I ate yesterday. 

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Simply a diced green apple, some shredded carrot and a few raisins topped with a little almond milk for some moisture. I wasn’t sure about the carrots but they added a nice twist.

The week wouldn’t be complete without some form of a treat so this week, my cousin and I decided to attempt french macaroons. They weren’t pretty and they didn’t really taste like they were packaged up from a Paris bakery but live and learn, macaroons are hard.

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A Day of Eating

When I haven’t seen people in a long time, they always say “wow, you must  really changed your eating and portions!” After I take away the small insult of that comment, I always answer them back with how I actually eat more now than I ever did, but how it has changed and definitely for the better.

I realized how much food really does fuel my body when I came back from my spring break cruise two weeks ago. After consuming foods I’m not so used to eating, I felt puffy from salt, sluggish and tired. I was definitely not myself.

Food is fuel. The body needs premium. 

My [Typical] Day of Eating:

Breakfast:

One glass of water

1 plain Greek yogurt with blueberries, cinnamon, coconut and 1 teaspoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon or so of homemade granola.

1/2 a grapefruit

1 cup of tea or coffee

Snack if needed:

Piece of fruit

Lunch:

1 medium-sized salad. Usually includes a hard boiled egg, spinach and veggies as well as a little cheese.

Apple with peanut butter or banana

Snack:

Orange and maybe some almonds 

Dinner:

Some type of protein (chicken, steak, turkey burger…)

2/3 of the plate filled with some kind of vegetable.

Extra:

I usually have some kind of chocolate at some point during the day. I love chocolate.

I’ve also realized that while I eat often (sometimes I eat more than 2 snacks…), I don’t think I’m eating enough actual food. Any suggestions at keeping relatively low-carb but adding in a few extra calories?