Sunday, April 14, 2013

Endless Hours In My Kitchen

Good news! My amazing cousin Steve worked SUPER hard on making my video awesome and I was able to post it on Thursday. Pretty exciting stuff. Here it is!

Many thanks to the Fort Collins 24 Hour Fitness Staff for helping me with this project! Especially Eric and Greg for helping me set it up, Amanda for pointing me in the right direction and Jourdan for listening to my story, helping me come up with the perfect words to say and for filming it. But mostly, thank you to Megan who helped me get to this point- for being the PERFECT trainer and for becoming such a wonderful friend.

Okay, before I start to cry....

CONFESSION TIME
Leading up to the video shoot, I was pushing myself really hard at the gym. This led me to my longest streak to date, of going to the gym 11 days in a row. I know, I know: "you should always have at least one rest day a week". And usually I do. But for one reason or another, I didn't want to. I was on fire, so back I went. One day actually, I was going to call it my rest day. It was the Saturday I was supposed to shoot the video. Lucky for me we had a nice blizzard that day, and despite it all, I trekked out in the snow to the gym to shoot the video. After realizing there had been a lack in communication and the video shoot was not happening, I thought, "well.... I came all the way here. I might as well work out a little bit." So that could have been my rest day, but wasn't.
I probably would have kept working out after the 11 days, but in the following days I had a concert after work, followed by sleeping (working 9 hours on 4 hours of sleep is not fun), followed by going home for Easter. I WAS GYMMED OUT. They say too much of a good thing can be bad. Well guess what?? My 11 day streak at the gym... BAD. Even after a few days off, I still felt like we needed a break from each other. And between that among other things going on in my life, my love for the gym hasn't really returned. I still go, but for some reason my passion and drive isn't there.
And therefore, I feel like a bit of a fraud.
All these things I preach about making yourself go and you'll love it. And some days I do make myself go. But I'm not currently loving it.
I'm sure it will return, just gotta give it some time I suppose.
So there you have it, I am a fitness fraud. At least I never claimed to be perfect. :)

Okay, moving on... Since my gym time has been cut considerably lately, this entry is going to focus on food. Oh, I do love food. I've been testing out some new recipes and let me say they are all AWESOME!

NO BAKE ENERGY BITES
I got this recipe from my cousin, who just eats these because they taste like candy. I wasn't sure I believed him. But boy, was he right! Super easy to make and I just keep them in the fridge, both at home and at work and eat them before I hit the gym, or if I need a little snack. :) 
1 C. Old-fashioned oats
2/3 C. toasted coconut flakes
1/2 C. Peanut butter
1/2 C. Flaxseed or Wheat Germ
1/2 C. Chocolate Chips
1/3 C. Honey
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in refrigerator 1/2 an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you like. Store in airtight container and keep refrigerated up to 1 week. Makes 20-25 balls. 

I may have mentioned this before: I LOVE the peanut butter/chocolate combination. Whoever introduced me to that should be hurt, because it is my biggest downfall. :) These have that combination and are quite delicious. Here's another secret: I don't even like coconut. Love these! They're like a miracle. Also good to make rather than getting the protein bars that are filled with junk.(Remember when I used to swear by Clif Bars? Yea, apparently they're not as good for you as I once thought. oops)

SPAGHETTI SQUASH AND MEATBALLS

Sorry to say I don't have a picture for this one. I was slightly skeptical about this one. You say Squash and I say RUN! I clearly remember being in 2nd grade and studying the book "Stone Soup" and making our own stone soup, which included Squash. I remember being "encouraged" (forced maybe?) to try the squash and promptly spitting it into the trash. And from that moment on it has been ingrained in my brain that I don't like squash. A few years ago I got a recipe from Megan (awesome trainer that she is) for butternut squash quinoa chili. I tried it and hey guess what? I LOVED IT. 
Still, spaghetti squash had me unsure. How could squash taste like spaghetti? Totally impossible. And I love me some spaghetti. I had been contemplating trying it. I'd been having a few conversations with my boss about it. And then I discovered a recipe for Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs and decided now was as good as ever to try this. Plus you get to make it in the crockpot. I love my crockpot. 

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
1 lb ground italian sausage (I have an extreme dislike for italian sausage, so I used 1/2 lb of lean ground turkey breast)
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp hot pepper relish (optional)
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
Dump into slow cooker tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic, hot pepper relish and italian seasoning and stir well. 
Cut your squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 
Place 2 squash halves face down into the slow cooker. 
Roll ground sausage (or turkey breast) into meatballs, fit as many as possible in sauce. 
Cook on high 3 hours or low 5 hours. 
Use large fork to pull spaghetti out of squash. Top with meatballs and sauce. 

*NOTE: It helps if you have a really big crockpot to do this. I don't, so I had to cook one half of the squash at a time.*

I was excited but nervous to try it. I swear to you, it was just like I was eating spaghetti. I may never go back. I'm excited to try my pasta recipes using spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Woohoo! :) 

Source: Paleo Pot

CROCKPOT ENCHILADA CASSEROLE
4 C. chopped Vegetables (I used peppers and onions, and corn. Other suggestions: sweet potato, mushrooms, whatever you want)
8 Corn tortillas
2 cans (3 C.) black beans
1.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 C. shredded mexican cheese
1 can enchilada sauce

Chop vegetables into similar sized pieces. Spray crockpot or use liner. 
Cut tortillas into strips. Spread 1/3 strips on bottom of crockpot. Top with 1/3 veggies. Add 1 C. black beans. Top with 1/3 can enchilada sauce and 1/3 C. Cheese. 
Repeat layers 2 more times, but don't put cheese on top layer. 
Cook on low for about 4 hours. 
Add remaining cheese and serve warm, top with avocado and salsa. 

Okay, so you may have noticed, the recipe doesn't say when to add in the cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper. I actually didn't notice this until after it was all in the crockpot. So I didn't use it. Next time, I'll probably mix it with the enchilada sauce. This was still quite delicious!

PULLED PORK STUFFED SWEET POTATOES
My favorite food in the WORLD is pulled pork. And I LOVE sweet potatoes, so when I saw this recipe I pretty much knew it was a MUST try. It's slightly time consuming, but worth it. It has 2 components. 

COMPONENT I: SKINNY BBQ SAUCE (Obviously this is optional, but I figured homemade skinny bbq sauce sounded like a genius idea)

2 C. Ketchup
1 C. Water
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 C. Apple Cider vinegar
5 Tbsp light brown sugar
6 Tbsp Splenda
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
1/2 Tbsp ground mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer. 
Cook uncovered, stirring frequently for 1 hour. Serve immediately or store sauce in refrigerator or freeze for later use. 

**NOTE: When you're at the store and think that you'd rather save a dollar and buy the splenda that's in little packets rather than the splenda that's just in a big bag, say it's worth the dollar. For to get 6 tbsp, you have to empty 48 packets. Yea you read that right... 48.**

COMPONENT II: Pork
1 2 LB. pork tenderloin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
3.5 C. skinny bbq sauce (or other kind) NOTE: the recipe for skinny bbq sauce doesn't make enough, so you're going to want to double it!
8 small sweet potatoes

In a small bowl, combine salt, black pepper and onion powder and mix to make a rub. Rub pork tenderloin on both sides with mixture. Place pork tenderloin in slow cooker. Cover pork tenderloin with 2.5 cups of bbq sauce. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. 
Pork all finished! 
15 minutes before pork tenderloin is heated through, place sweet potatoes in microwave until heated through. 
Remove pork tenderloin from slow cooker. Using 2 forks, shred pork tenderloin and mix with remaining 1 C. bbq sauce. 
Using a knife, slice sweet potatoes down the middle, creating an open center for pulled pork. Top each sweet potato with pulled pork and serve any additional pork on the side or save for later. 

**Changes I made: I used a 1.5 lb pork tenderloin and I cut it in half before putting it in the crock pot so it would fit better. Since this is for dinner this week I have yet to cook the potatoes, but I tried the pork and it's quite delicious. I omitted using the remaining 1 c. of bbq sauce because there as more than enough in the crockpot when the pork was finished being cooked.**

Source: Skinny Mom

SWEET POTATO BANANA BITES
I've seen Lindsay post about these a few times lately and I knew I wanted to try them and I figured now was as good a time as ever. 

1/2 C. Cooked and mashed sweet potato
1 medium banana
1/4 C. peanut butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
cinnamon, to taste
Chocolate chips (optional)
Smash the sweet potato and banana together in a small bowl.  Add the peanut butter, eggs, vanilla and cinnamon and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and spoon into mini muffin tins. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until firm. 

DELICIOUS. The recipe actually calls for dark chocolate chips, but I just can't get on the dark chocolate train- not a huge fan, so I used semi-sweet and put in 1/2 c I believe. I didn't measure out the sweet potato either, I just used 1 baked sweet potato. Sue me. :) 



That's about all the cooking I've been doing the last week or so. I have a recipe for mocha protein balls I want to try. I just have a few more ingredients to get. I'm sure they will be delicious and then I will post that recipe as well. :) 

Have a great day and make good, healthy choices. :) 
<3 Jessica <3 

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