Valentine’s Day Eats

Diet? What diet? It’s Valentine’s day right?

Ok, it wasn’t that bad aside from the ice cream mixed in there. But I have some wonderful recipes for you!

Parsley Carrots (makes 4 large servings)

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 large carrots (I used the heirloom variety for the lovely colours)IMG_1415
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Wash and roughly chop the carrots into finger sized sections, leave the skins on.
  2. Put the carrots in a medium pot and cover by 1-2 inches with COLD salted water – always start root vegetables in the cold water and bring to a boil together for best results.
  3. Bring water to a boil, and boil for 10-15 minutes. Test for doneness by poking the carrots with a fork. You want the fork to go in with a decent amount of resistance.
  4. While the carrots are boiling, tear off a small handful of parsley and rip it into smaller pieces.
  5. In a frying pan heat the butter and add the garlic (either minced or as I did, use a press), cook until the garlic is fragrant and slightly brown.
  6. Drain the carrots and add the carrots and parsley to the frying pan and toss to coat the carrots.
  7. Cook, tossing every 3 minutes or so, until the carrots are browned and have a slight crust, about 15 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Duck Breast (1 breast feeds 2 people)

IMG_1414

Ingredients:

  • 1 duck breast with skin (about 300 grams)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:IMG_1406

  1. Roughly chop rosemary leaves and pull thyme off of the sprig.
  2. Pat duck breast with paper towel to dry (helps with browning); use a sharp blade to cross hatch the skin of the duck without cutting into the meat at 1-2 cm spacing.
  3. Season both sides of the duck breast with the salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary.
  4. Add duck breast skin side down to the pan (you can add some fat, but the fat from the skin will render and coat the pan, so it is not needed), cook for 3-4 minutes, remove some of the rendered fat if needed and flip. Cook on the other side for 5-8 minutes.
  5. At this point to duck should be medium rare, remove the duck from the pan, tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 3-4 minutes, then slice into 1/2 cm slices and serve.
  6. If the breast is too rare for your liking I have had great success with placing the rarest slices back on the pan for about 15 seconds per side to avoid anyone being put off by the rareness.

I served these 2 dishes with some sautéed green beans that I sautéed in the rendered duck fat until lightly browned and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

And for dessert…

Paleo Coconut MacaroonsIMG_1418

For the recipe, hop over to The Urban Poser which created the recipe and has many other amazing paleo treats or hop over to Mommypotamus where the recipe is posted and where there are even more yummy things! Don’t blame me if you lick the screen.

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Not diet food – but delicious!

Birthday dinners don’t have to be healthy right?

Well tonight was the celebration dinner for my boyfriend’s birthday. Last year I made him a chicken parmesan, pasta and caesar salad dinner. He liked it so much that he made me promise to make it for his birthday every year… which I agreed to. So his birthday rolled around this year and it was time to make the dinner again. I decided to up the ante this year and make even the pasta sauce from scratch. Then to cap the night off I made a triple berry crumble. Here is what I did:  

Chicken Parmesan (original recipe from Simply Recipes)

Ingredients

Sauce:

  • 1/2 large yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes (we use Muir-Glen)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Chicken:

  • 3 chicken breast cutlets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs  (use plain)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • mozzarella cheese, sliced (enough to top the chicken with)

Directions

1 Prepare the sauce. Finely chop the onion.  Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add the minced garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about a minute more.  Add the tomatoes and oregano.  Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to maintain the simmer.  Cook, uncovered while you prepare the chicken (about 10-12 minutes).

2  Preheat oven to 400°F. With a meat pounder (or heavy bottomed skillet which I have done in the past), pound the chicken pieces to flatten them to an even thickness – between 1/4 – 1/2 inch.

3  In a shallow bowl (large enough to dredge the cutlets), mix together the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and oregano.  In separate shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

4 Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat.  The oil should be shimmering, not smoking. Dredge the chicken pieces 1 piece at a time first in the egg mixture, then in the breadcrumbs.  Then lay the pieces in the hot sauté pan.  Turn the heat to medium, then gently fry the cutlets until they are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

5 Spread enough tomato sauce to coat the bottom of a casserole pan or baking dish (that will fit however many chicken breast you have easily).  Once the cutlets are browned on both sides, arrange them on top of the tomato sauce in the baking dish.  spoon some more sauce over each of the cutlets.  Sprinkle the tops with sliced basil.  Then top the cutlets with slices of mozzarella and the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.

6 Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the mozzarella begins to brown.

Serve with pasta using the remaining sauce for the pasta (or not if you are like me and can’t eat pasta because gluten is evil) and caesar salad. I like renees caesar dressing and made about 5 slices of bacon cooked extra crispy to mix in with the salad and croutons.

My dish which has no pasta as you can see

Andre finished his meal pretty quickly and even had a little bit more of my chicken since they were huge servings. For reference, he NEVER stuffs himself. He is one of those lucky people who just eats until he’s comfortably full and then stops (god I wish I could do that so easily!). But both this year and last he finished off the huge portion I gave him AND still had dessert.

Look at that smile… and clear plate!

For dessert I used this recipe which I have used before with much success for…

Triple Berry Crumble (makes enough for a 9×9 dish)

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 1/2 pint each of fresh (you can use frozen if you need to but the crumble will be way less liquidy and much more stable if you use fresh) raspberries and blackberries
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries chopped to approx. same size as the other berries (you could also use blueberries I just didn’t have any)
  • 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

Crumble

  • 1 c. spelt flour (or other flour of choice such as gluten-free, coconut, almond meal, or plain whole wheat flour)
  • 1 c. large flake oats (GF if needed)
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. butter (softened slightly, but still hard)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Direction

Side view of the layers of crumble:fruit:crumble

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl, gently toss together blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and maple syrup
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Cut in butter until crumbly – if you don’t know how to do this here is a tutorial. It can be done with a pastry cutter which makes life easy, except i couldn’t find mine today so I just used a knife and occasionally my fingers to break up stubborn clumps.
  5. Press half of mixture in the bottom of a 9×9 inch pan and cover with berries, then sprinkle remaining crumble mixture over the berries.
  6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown (I once forgot about this for an hour and a half, so 50 additional minutes in the oven and it still tasted fantastic, it’s seriously indestructible as long as you use fresh fruit).

I love serving this with a good quality vanilla bean ice cream, but some heavy cream or some greek yogurt would be great too.

Delish!

Workouts, Brownies and Wild Caught Fish

Yesterday I got back in the gym! Yay! I did a super simple workout as follows:

High Glutes and Running

My standard interval run which is:

2 minute warm up

Then 4 rounds of: 1 minutes walk (4.0 mph), 1 min jog (5.0 – 5.5 mph), 1 min run (6.0-70 mph) and 1 min sprint (7.0 – 9.0 mph)

2 minute cool down

Then 5 x 5 squats (that’s 5 sets of 5 reps) with 155 lbs and a slightly wider than shoulders stance. I also put some weight plates under my heels to help my form. Ladies, we have different anatomy than men, if you aren’t getting low enough in your squats without arching your back… do these things:

1 – put something small under you heels to elevate them (about ½ – 1 inch)

2 – widen your stance a bit

3 – angle your toes SLIGHTLY outwards

Then 3 sets of 24 walking lunges holding a 10 pound plate in one hand and switching after 12 steps (so half the lunges per set are done with the plate on one side, then half are done on the other side)

Then 2 sets of 20 glute bridges alternating the leg in the air and ending with some pulses to really burn the glutes out at the end.

Stretch those legs for a good 15 minutes!

Moving on, as I mentioned yesterday, I made Chocolate Covered Katie’s Black Bean Brownies last night because they looked delicious and they are gluten-free 🙂 I had also bought some ice cream, and brownies and ice cream is a winning combo.

So here is the recipe as I made it:

Ingredients:

Everything in my new food procesor!

  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder ( like mine very intense)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp splenda brown sugar blend for a little extra sweetness
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Optional toppings that I used:
    • 2 squares 85% lindt dark chocolate broken up on top
    • 2 tbsp shredded coconut
    • 1 tbsp white chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F

    In the oven with half coconut sprinkles

  • Put everything except the toppings in a food processor and blend until smooth (ish)
  • Pour into a lightly greased 9 x 9 pan or a cake pan and put toppings on
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Let cool (otherwise they crumble a little as I found out in my impatience) and enjoy with a scoop of ice cream.

Nutritional Info (for 1 slice if cut into 8 pieces without the toppings): Cals – 137     Carbs – 19 g     Fats – 6 g    Protein – 3 g

These were deliciously fudgey (which is SO a word wordpress) and this was verified by non-dieting people at work who tried them, including a very straight forward woman who has no qualms about being slightly offensive. She was very skeptical about them, tried it and announced that she liked it and that the other lady there should try it. Win!

Finished product alongside Haagen Dazs brownie and cookie dough ice cream

I also did a HUGE grocery shop last night and restocked my kitchen with things I haven’t had in ages, like the makings of guacamole, Tostito chips, curry sauces and coconut milk, fatty cuts of meat, brie and goat cheeses and the aforementioned ice cream! I have since regretted this because I have sooooo many things tempting me and I have gone a little lot overboard on the treating myself front. On which note I am really going to try to eat fewer things in the coming days.

I also have found an awesome person as the fish counter. He really seems to care about the quality of what he is selling you. He recommends wild caught fish and tries to point out the best deals. Particular favourites of his (and mine) are red snapper and monkfish which are far cheaper than wild caught salmon. I love wild caught salmon, and won’t buy the farmed stuff, but it is crazy expensive. The fish monger (how often do you get to use that word?) also told me that if I HAVE to buy farmed fish (for unknown reasons) that the tail portion is the best portion to get because 1 – it is the newest flesh as it is constantly growing and 2 – it is the muscle doing the work and will therefore have the most blood flow and lowest levels of toxicity. Good to know!

I bought a portion of both monkfish and red snapper and decided on the monkfish for dinner. If you haven’t heard of it, monkfish is sometimes referred to as “poor man’s lobster” because it has a similar texture and that almost sweet taste. Now do not go into this expecting lobster, because it is NOT lobster, but it is sort of half way there and half way to tilapia or other white fish. I personally love the flavor of monkfish and so I don’t dress it up too much. I would hesitate to even call it a recipe.

All I did was heat about 1-2 tbsp of butter in a skillet and sautee some garlic, when the garlic was nice and golden and the pan was hot I placed the fish in the pan and pan fried it on all sides for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, I just go by texture and warm fuzzy feelings about when things are done. It comes from being in a kitchen at a very young age… thanks mom and dad!

I also sautéed up some asparagus and zucchini because apparently I didn’t get my fill of asparagus during peak weak. Lol.

What kinds of fish do you like? Do you pay attention to farmed vs. wild?

Thanksgiving and catching up

Firstly, I would like to apologize for the 4 day hiatus. On Thursday I tried to make a post and liked to the Rivalus website which is the company that makes the thermogenics I was using (and am happier now not using). WordPress apparently does not like this and immediately and without warning deactivates any blog that links to this site…. who knew?! It’s kind of ironic given that the post was about having a bad day and the universe not liking the plan I had for the day. I guess that the blog was part of all that.Then Friday the blog was still down so I didn’t write a post and I drove up to Ottawa that evening to visit my boyfriend and his family for thanksgiving. So no posting happened then, but what did happen was a delicious taco frittata and a gluten free, healthy-ish pumpkin pie. Oh yes these were awesome. My boyfriend is even tempted to cook the frittata for himself… something that is unheard of!

Before I get to the recipe’s I’ll give you a rundown of the weekend.

Friday – Driving (literally nothing else to report)

Messing around and caught on camera

Saturday – ate sparingly throughout the day, did a quick circuit style leg work-out on the porch with my boyfriend before heading over to his sister’s for thanksgiving dinner. At the dinner I had the following:

–          Cheese and gluten free crackers plus some of those raincoast crisps because they are delectable

–          A few tiny pieces of fudge (which is a huge weakness of mine)

–          Honeyed ham

–          Pecan, goat cheese, pear and cranberry salad with lemon vinaigrette

–          Butternut squash

–          Turkey (obviously) and lots of it

–          Gluten free pumpkin pie

–          A small slice of pumpkin cheese cake topped with maple candied pecans

I figure all that added up to around 1500 calories plus about 800 for the food I ate throughout the rest of the day, so not terrible overall. Plus it was a good shock to my system and a good carb up. I didn’t have too much of anything that was terrible for me, just a lot of food. No alcohol either, which really helps keep things in check.

Feeding the Chickadees

Sunday – Slept in 🙂 Had a lovely cup of coffee with a splash of milk, splenda and vanilla. Fasted until about 4 pm to try to clear my system of any junk I ate the day before. I then went for a VERY leisurely hike with Andre and his sister, her boyfriend and a friend. We fed the birds and had a lovely time. I broke my fast with an awesome bowl of homemade turkey soup with bone broth which is one of the healthiest things you can have, followed by a largish dinner of steak, butternut squash, more of that salad, red peppers and mushrooms. I also had a half slice of pie for desert, because I love pumpkin pie and it was pretty low calorie. I also napped somewhere in there. Apparently I was sleep deprived. Sleep is so important for your health and especially important for weight loss.

Monday – Slept in again, which was so needed and wonderful. Then I did a crazy rowing interval session followed by chest and shoulders with my boyfriend. Then drove back to Toronto in crazy traffic which took 6 hours instead of 4! When I finally got there I met my family at Miller Tavern for a delicious dinner of sautéed vegetables (light on the butter) and seared Ahi Tuna served blue rare with some hoi sin sauce. It was delicious. 

Grabbing weights for the last set

I got home ready to crash but knew that I had to cook up so protein for today so I quickly thawed and cooked some grass-fed striploin steaks, prepared my meals for the following day, and had a slice of pumpkin pie 🙂 (noticing a theme?) and went to bed.

This morning I woke up at 5 AM and went to the gym. I did a crossfit workout called EVA which equated to 75 push-presses, 75 burpees and a mile and a quarter run in just under 26 minutes (over 5 rounds at 15, 15 and a ¼ mile each time). I was exhausted but I still did 30 minutes on the elliptical and got in a great stretch. It will be a long day since I’ve already been awake for 7 hours and it’s only noon!

But on to the recipes!

You may have gathered that I don’t believe diet food should taste bland. I LOVE food, so I’ll be damned if the small amount of food that I get to eat is going to taste bad. Each mouthful should be a celebration IMHO. Whatever diet you are on, I guarantee that you can eat delicious foods that will satisfy you and not ruin your diet. One of the recipes that I made for low carbs days is a new one that I will definitely be making again, thought it’s a tad high in sodium.

Taco Frittata

Taco Frittata in my cast iron skillet, just out of the oven

Ingredients:

–          Half a medium yellow onion, diced

–          1 bell pepper (I used orange), diced

–          1 lb extra lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed)

–          2 eggs

–          1 cup egg white (or 8 egg whites)

–          1 tbsp oil of choice

–          ½ pkg taco spice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat an ovenproof (i.e. cast iron) skillet to medium-high heat and add the oil while dicing the onions and peppers.
  3. Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent
  4. Add the peppers and cook an additional 2 minutes until softening
  5. Add the ground beef and break into small pieces, cook until brown all the way through and continually stir to let some of the liquid evaporate.
  6. Add the 1.2 pkg of taco seasoning (or whatever seasoning you like) and mix thoroughly. Drain any excess liquid at this point.
  7. Beat the eggs and egg whites together in a bowl and pour over all the ingredients in the skillet. Move everything around to allow the eggs to disperse evenly. You don’t want it all sitting at the top because the egg holds everything together. Cooke for 3-5 minutes on medium heat on the stove top.
  8. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for approx 15 minutes until the egg is completely set but not browning too much on top, just keep checking it until it’s done.
  9. Let it cool then slice into 6 slices and serve topped with some grated cheese and salsa for an added taco-ish flair.

Nutritional info (without toppings) : Cals – 205 cals     Carbs – 5 g    Fats – 9 g     Protein – 27 g

This reheated really well and the boyfriend enjoyed it on some toast with salsa, I usually had some snap peas on the side, maybe some cheese and a few tbsp of salsa. What a great savoury low carb breakfast.

There were 2 other dishes I made this weekend, Butternut Squash, and pumpkin pie. Unfortunately no pictures of the squash, but it was super simple to make.

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

–          1 butternut squash

–          1 tbsp unsalted butter

–          1 – 2 tbsp of maple syrup, maple sugar or brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Clean the outside of the squash and pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise with a large knife,
  3. Remove the guts of the squash (I don’t know the technical name, but that’s what it looks like to me)
  4. Poke some holes in the squash and place cut side down on a buttered cookie sheet
  5. Cook for approx 30 minutes or until almost done (i.e. a fork will insert easily into the flesh) and flip over. Score the top of the squash deeply with a sharp knife and spread the tbsp of butter over the flesh of the squash and put a blob in the hollowed out part.
  6. Drizzle maple syrup or sprinkle sugar over the squash and add a little extra to the bowl
  7. Put it back in the over for 15 minutes or until caramelized and squash is fully cooked.

Healthier gluten-free pumpkin pie

Crust (makes 2 crusts)

Ingredients:

–          2 c. Almond meal

–          4 tbsp unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 475F
  2. Melt butter and mix with almond meal
  3. Distribute half of mixture into eat non-stick pie dish and cook for 7-10 minutes until turning brown but be careful not to burn it.
  4. Take out and let cool while you make the filling.

Filling (makes 2 pies)

Ingredients:

–          1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (E. D. Smith is what I use, but don’t get the pie filling, just the pure pumpkin!)

–          1 ½ c. Fat free evaporated milk

–          1 c. Splenda brown sugar blend (this is half brown sugar and equivalent spend, so it is half the calories for the same level of sweetness)

–          4 eggs

–          1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  1. Increase oven to 475 F
  2. Whisk eggs together and mix all ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.
  3. Distribute filling between the 2 pie crusts evenly.
  4. Cook at 475 for 15-20 minutes and decrease oven temp to 350 F.
  5. Cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour (the splenda increases the cooking time) or until a toothpick comes out clean and it’s not super wobbly anymore. This is a bit of knowing what it looks like when it done.
  6. Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve because it tastes better cold 🙂

Nutritional Info (for 1/8 of a pie): Cals – 195 cals    Carbs – 20 g    Fats – 8 g    Protein – 7 g

And for an update, this is me as of this morning, 2 weeks and 4 days to go 🙂

Side view