Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Try It Tuesday" Smoothie Edition

I recently purchased a NutriBullet food extractor to make smoother, healthier smoothies. 
I really like the convenience of a smoothie for breakfast and the most recent attempts in my blender had turned out clumpy and chunky and I ended up wasting more than I enjoyed.
(When I grow up, I'd like to upgrade to the Vitamix.)

Before I made my purchase, I scoured the internet (Pinterest) and found a plethora of healthy smoothie recipes, but most of them were higher in calories than I would want. Sure, they are chock full of fruits and veggies, but 500+ calories for a snack? No thank you.

Being on a 1200 calorie a day diet, I usually try not to go over 300 calories for breakfast, so I decided that I needed to create healthy, tasty smoothies UNDER 300 calories for the calories conscious out there.

With that, I would like to present to you:

Ok, let's address the immediate issue at hand: it looks like YUCK!! It has a handful of baby spinach, but the gorgeous, strawberry pink color is in there somewhere. What you really need to be concerned about is the taste. So let me reassure you,

This is actually my first "green" smoothie and I was a little reluctant to add spinach to a perfectly good smoothie, but as long as you keep a 50:50 (fruit to veggie) ratio, you really DO NOT taste the spinach.
Trust me.
Here's what you will need:
Handful of baby spinach (about 1 cup)
1/4 c. Fat Free Cottage Cheese
3/4 c. Frozen Strawberries
1 1/2 tsp. flax seed (whole, not milled)
1 tsp. honey
1/2 scoop of Light Cake Batter Muscle Milk Protein Powder
1/2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
All the ingredients minus the strawberries and almond milk.
Put all the ingredients into your Nutribullet (or blender or Vitamix if you're cool like that!) and process until smooth.

You will end up with a delicious breakfast or snack that is PACKED with nutrients, vitamins, protein and fiber that will keep you full for hours!  The cake batter protein powder really does gives the shake a sweet, cheesecake taste, but if you don't have this flavor, you can use vanilla protein powder and it will still be delicious.

Oh yeah, and there's 212 calories. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

An Ode to Creativity

So, it's a new year already and I'm inspired to make positive changes and to be more creative. 
The best way to do this is to surround yourself with positive, creative people. 
Fortunately, I work with some really clever guys.
For example, the other day, I spotted this at the office coffee pot:
How cool is that?!
You just turn the bottom cup to the time the coffee was made so you'll know how fresh it is.
I love being resourceful and using everyday objects for new purposes and I thought this was totally rad!! 
So, now, you should totally do this at your office and everyone will think you're awesome!
Here's something I had to do the other day:
Yes, that is a latex glove covering a styrofoam cup filled with gravy. 
We ran out of lids at work and I didn't want to throw this perfectly good sausage gravy away when I could have it for breakfast the next day. So...I looked around and found a box of latex gloves 
that fit the top of the cup perfectly.
It really provided an airtight seal and assured me breakfast for the next day!
It's not much to look at, but, hey, it served a purpose.

Sometimes it's hard to solve a problem because we try to do things the way we've always done. 
It's a lot more fun when we come up with a new, creative solution on our own.
(It's more rewarding, too!)
I never want to be so closed minded that I am not open to new ideas and possibilities.
(On that note, did you know that you've been eating chicken wings all wrong?)

Or what about all those "life hacks" you've seen on the internet? Do they really work?
Check out this video from mental_floss to find out:

So there you have it. My ode to creativity. 
I hope you're inspired to think outside the box this year and not let any obstacles stand in your way!
Until next time...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Try It" Tuesday- Spicy Dip Edition

Lately, I've been on a spicy dip kick and here are two of my new faves!
Eat Well Embrace Life Spicy Hummus
If you like hummus- and even if you don't- you really need to try this! I hope you can find it where you are, it's actually made right here in Alpharetta, GA. A friend of mine recommended this to me the other day and I had to try it.
It's not too spicy, so I think most people will enjoy it. Take a look at all the chunky spices:
Once you mix them all up into the hummus, it is gonna be hard to not eat the whole container!!
It tastes like a spicy bean dip- WAY better than regular hummus. I like the extra kick! Also, it has fewer calories then other hummus dips:
I ate it on tortilla chips, but you can certainly dip your veggies in it and have an awesome afternoon snack! Look for it at your grocery store or visit them online.
Another spicy dip I'm in love with is this:
Oh. My. Heavens.
Y'all I simply cannot say enough about this stuff. It is seriously rocking my world!
Now, this is a good bit spicier than the hummus dip, but it is really super delicious.
A friend was raving about this and I decided I had to pick some up on a lunchtime trip to the grocery store. I also grabbed a box of Wheat Thins and decided this would be a light lunch.
A half hour later, I had eaten half the container of this cream cheese.
The next day, I ate the other half.
I have no shame.
Still...I took consolation in the fact that there are only like 480 calories in the entire container and most of us eat twice that much for lunch every day.
I know- that doesn't include the Wheat Thins. Oh well, I had an off day.
Anyway, I can't WAIT to find out what else I can do with this stuff. It's everything you love about jalapeno poppers minus the greasy, fried coating.
I almost considered putting it on my egg sandwich this morning. What can I say? I'm obsessed.
I'll have to pick up a new container...STAT!
So, if you like spicy jalapenos and cream cheese, what are you waiting for?
GO GET THIS STUFF-just don't be surprised if you end up eating the whole container!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

"Try It" Tuesday- Swiffer SteamBoost

If you're like me and you've seen the recent commercial for the Swiffer Bissell SteamBoost, you get excited. Like really excited. A simple way to get the cleanest floors?
I couldn't wait to find a good excuse to go to the store and pick one up! 

So last night during a Walmart run, I checked them out. It was a few cents under $50, and I was a little apprehensive, but I went ahead and took the plunge anyway. Here's what I found:
The steam mop is compact and barely even requires any assembly. 
All you have to do is attach the handle to the base.
Then, you place the pad on the bottom:
Then, fill it with 10 ounces of water and plug it in for 30 seconds to activate the steam. 
This is when the fun starts.
I had already swept the floor and had it ready to steam mop.
Basically, you place the mop on the floor and squeeze the trigger on the handle and mop to
activate the steam.
Check out that steam action!
You mop the floor as you would with any other mop...except that you have to keep the handle squeezed pretty much the whole time. This gets kinda painful after a little while. 
When you release the trigger, you probably get 10 seconds or so of steam before you 
have to activate it again. I just found it easier to keep it held the whole time.

Now one of the main reasons I bought this steamer mop is because I thought it would sanitize and truly deep clean my linoleum floors. What I discovered, just before I typed up this post, is that this is not necessarily true of all steam mops.
I have to say: Swiffer never claimed that the SteamBoost would sanitize my floor- that was just my assumption. 
In fact, your steam mop would have to reach 130 degrees to start killing germs- at the very least.
I did a little test and  placed a thermometer under my SteamBoost to see how long it would take to reach 130 degrees. Without the pad, it took almost 10 seconds. So if you want it to start sanitizing, you'll need to leave the steam mop in one place for at least 15 seconds. This will take forever and may also damage your floors. SO- don't expect that the SteamBoost will kill germs like I did.

Also don't expect it to deep clean textured linoleum.
Here's an upclose shot of the floor after I let the steam sit there for a while:
I guess there really IS NO SUBSTITUTE for a good scrubbing brush and a little "elbow grease."
(It's obviously been too long since I've scrubbed the floors.)

HOWEVER, the SteamBoost really DID clean the floor. Here's what the pad looked like when I finished:

(In case you're wondering: I have no shame...)
This is WAY better than any Swiffer WetJet ever thought of cleaning!
In fact, it cleaned spills and stains very quickly and the floor dried a lot faster than if I'd actually mopped it, which is nice.

(Just so you know, I used the second pad that came with the kit and cleaned the floor again. 
It was much cleaner the second time!)
After the floor dried, I asked my husband to come take a look and tell me his thoughts.
He was impressed and thought the floor really did appear to be clean. 
I had an idea...You know how sometimes when you mop the floor and you think it's clean- until you walk all over it in white socks? 
Well, I went to the closet and grabbed a clean, white cloth and began to rub pretty hard on the newly "mopped" floor:

And guess what?
The picture really doesn't do justice, but the rag really had NO trace of dirt on it. 
That was pretty impressive!
So...here's the dilemma. Am I going to suggest that you go out and spend $50 on one of these?
Honestly, I can't tell you to do that, but I hope that I've given you something to think about.
Here's a list of the pro's:
It's fast and easy to use.
You don't have to keep changing mop water.
The floor dries a lot quicker than regular mopping.
It cleans, in my opinion, WAY better than a Swiffer WetJet.

It's a little pricey ($50) and the pads are $6-$9 for 20.
It does not sanitize like mopping chemicals (eg. Pine Sol)
You have to keep the trigger engaged for full steam, which can be a little irritating after a while.
Bottom line: If you want a quicker way to really clean your floors versus traditional mopping and you don't mind the cost, meet your new "mop."
However, if you can't justify spending the money and would rather lug out the mop bucket and Pine Sol,
 I feel you, too.
It's up to you, but now that I have the SteamBoost, I will gladly use it and be satisfied. 
Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Try It Tuesday" Kashi Oatmeal

So, it's been a while, but I'm back with another great review!
 I've always been a fan of oatmeal- even when I was a kid. Except then, it was Quaker's peaches n' cream packets that stole my heart. As a grown-up, my standards are a little higher,
like Kashi's GoLean Truly Vanilla:
I found this stuff by mistake, actually. I was looking for oats to make my Nutella Overnight Oats
and I spotted these. There are 8 packets in the box and they have:
150 calories, 7g fiber, 9g protein and 350mg of Omega-3.
Pretty impressive!
These are really for people on the go! In fact, the box says it's best when made in the microwave, which only takes as little as 2 minutes.
Also, the box touts the ability to help you "stay fuller longer" ...and it actually does!
It's jam packet with whole grains, fiber and protein and this stuff is gooood!
Now, if you are looking for a sugary sweet oatmeal, this won't be your fav, BUT the good thing about this oatmeal is that it is versatile.
You can add a little brown sugar or honey and it would actually complement it quite nicely.
This has a very nice texture and wonderful vanilla undertones, not overwhelming at all.
The next time I fix a bowl, I may add some raisins, slivered almonds or chopped dates, just to change things up a bit, but it really is great the way it is.
Try it. Enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Try It" Tuesday- Special K Nourish Review

Since I was offline last month, I was able to try some new things that I will be sharing with you in the next few weeks. 
Most of the time, I like to share things that I really like.
BUT, if I didn't tell you about the flops, I would be doing you a great disservice. 

I can't wait to try new foods. Not necessarily meals, but small food items like snack bars, cereals, etc.
For example, when I saw this on sale in the grocery store, I was totally excited:
I tossed it in my bag on the way to work and looked forward to a delicious, filling breakfast.
I first suspected trouble when I added the water to the fill line, which is only about 1/3 cup. Being a huge oatmeal fan, I knew there was NO way the oatmeal would expand to fill the cup.

In plain English: Nice packaging, but here's how much oatmeal you really get:
Don't believe me? Here's an actual shot of the prepared oatmeal:
That is a bit depressing, right? What's up with the other 2/3's of the cup?

I tried to convince myself that this is what I get for only 190 calories... I shouldn't really expect for the cup to be full, right?
Still, I couldn't help but think about how McDonald's Fruit and Maple oatmeal has only 50 more calories, but is 2-3 times more of a serving than this!
Maybe it's just me. Maybe it was the quinoa, but this oatmeal was definitely not working for me AT ALL.
There are too many different textures going on and the flavor just falls flat. Literally.
There was hardly any flavor at all, in fact.
I probably ate three bites before I decided it was time to toss the rest and pop open a
protein shake I had on standby- (Thanks, Umas!)

I can't tell you how much I was really wanting to like this stuff.
All I can say is: Kudos to Kellogg's marketing staff...they really build this stuff up in the commercials.
Too bad it falls short in reality (and I actually like Special K stuff!)
I may have been able to get over the tiny portion size if the taste was better, but I just couldn't do it.
I actually like to enjoy my breakfast. 

Guess I'll stick with the old reliable for now...now you know.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Easiest Chicken Pot Pie You'll Ever Make

I'm back with some new recipes and reviews for you! I hadn't initially planned on using this recipe as a blog post, but my husband requested this dish the other day and I realized I haven't made it in a while...but why? It's one of the easiest and tastiest dishes I know of and ANYONE can make it. 

I didn't think it fair to keep it all to myself, so, for this new edition of "Try It" Tuesday, I present to you:

Now this dish has been in my repertoire for many years. It was given to me by a coworker when the hubs and I were dating. It is a favorite in our home and I hope it becomes a new favorite for you. 
It's very simple and can be changed up to suit any palate.

Here's how I make it:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
(you can use a rotisserie chicken if you're short on time)
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
1- 16 oz. can VegAll

For the topping:
1 stick butter (melted)
1 c. flour
1 c. buttermilk

Place the chicken and soup in a slow cooker and season with a little salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 4 hours or until juices run clear.
Mix chicken and soup with a hand mixer on low to shred chicken:

Drain the can of VegAll, fold it in the chicken mixture and pour it in a 9x9 baking dish.

Make the topping:
Mix the melted butter, flour and buttermilk together until well blended. Pour over the chicken mixture:

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the breading is golden brown.

Be sure to let it cool for a bit, because this stuff will burn your face off it's so hot!
As I said, this recipe is so versatile. You can add boiled eggs or chopped onions or any veggies you may have left over in the fridge, but whatever you do, you don't want to mess with the topping!
This stuff is amazing! It tastes just like the best buttermilk biscuit you've ever put in your mouth. 
Too bad it's too runny to make a good biscuit. I'm still working on it, though.