Category Archives: teaching

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos + Homemade Taco Seasoning

Good morning! 😀

I hadn’t planned to blog this morning, but I couldn’t sleep in any. I was going to try sleeping in until…get this…6:30am! I know, what an exciting life I lead. Yesterday’s commutes were much better than expected and I was in the car just under 3 hours all day. That sounds insane, but considering the mileage and the snow, that’s not bad at all!! When I expect the worst, I end up early…go figure 😉

Last night was another successful class. We talked about carbohydrates and the dangers of low-carb diets. I think I have them all convinced that carbs are good…especially the ones that contain fiber and are healthiest! 😀 I feel like they are so engaged and interested in the topics we talk about, it really makes for a fun, engaging class. I hope they feel the same way, ha!

So yes, I couldn’t sleep in but maybe that’s because I was so anxious to share a new crock pot recipe with you all! As I had planned, the old crock has been getting some use and the results have been scrumptious! Not always pretty, but healthy and good! 😉 Oh, and time-efficient, too!!

[source]

Homemade Taco Seasoning from Sweet Life Kitchen as seen on Bean Town Baker

3 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried onion flakes
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp black pepper

Directions:

Mix it all together! The mix can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year! 2 1/2 tablespoons = 1 store-bought packet.

 

Crockpot Chicken Tacos from Sweet Life Kitchen as seen on Bean Town Baker

2 1/2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix (recipe above) or 1 packet of store-bought
15 oz low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes and liquid
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 ounces each)
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce + 2 Tbsp adobo sauce
Your favorite taco fixins (lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, etc.)*

Directions:

In a large bowl or measuring cup pour the chicken broth in, and use a fork to whisk in the taco seasoning mixture.

Spray the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Open the diced tomato can and pour all contents over the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay the chicken breasts on top of the tomatoes and pour the broth, seasoning, and adobo peppers and sauce over that. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-10 hours. The chicken should fork apart easily in the crock pot. Serve. Yield: 5 servings (4-ounces each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 146 calories; 2.8 g. fat; 65 mg. sodium; 460 mg. sodium; 5.8 g. carbohydrate; 1.6 g. fiber; 24.2 g. protein

Result: Ohhh my goodness! These were OUT of this world! Personally, I think the chipotle peppers in the adobo sauce are what made this taco meat so flavorful, but I’m probably a little biased since I made that addition to the original recipe. There is plenty of liquid to let this cook as long as you need to without drying out, and the meat just flakes apart with the touch of a fork. Reheats beautifully, too! *Nutrition information is for the meat only – tortilla and taco fixin’s are not accounted for. Enjoy!

Question: Hard shell or soft shell tacos?

I always do soft corn shells…so much flavor and healthier, too!

I’m off to work and then leaving for Chicago! My 15-hour work day yesterday more than makes up for a 3-day relaxing weekend with my family!! 😀 Cannot wait!! I also can’t wait to get in a good workout…my last workout was shoveling on Tuesday. My parent’s gym will be seeing plenty of me!

“See” you in the Windy City!

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Filed under carb-controlled, carbohydrates, crock pot, dinner, exercise, guilt-free, healthy cooking, low-carb, protein, recipe, teaching, travel, work

Creamy Parmesan Spinach Dip

Happy Wednesday!

It’s snowing just about everywhere in the US it seems! When I walked out of work yesterday (in ballet flats!) a good 4″ of snow had fallen. Needless to say, the 20 steps to my car lead to near frost bite. Brrrrr!!! But despite this weather, the show must go on. I have lab rounds at a clinic that’s 50 miles north of home and then I will double back to go teach tonight. It’s probably fair to say I’ll be commuting most of the day. Fabulous.

Though, sitting in the car sounds okay right about now. I decided to shovel for my workout last night. I went out with intentions of just just do the sidewalks, but that only took about 10 minutes. So I decided to shovel the DRIVEWAY! Yep, you read that correctly. And the best part: we have a brand new snow blower! I’m walking like a hunch-back today, and sore is the understatement of the century, but it was a KILLER workout! I wonder what the neighbors are saying… 😉

On to a lightened up classic! This recipe contains light mayonnaise, which I must admit, I love. I know a lot of people don’t like mayonnaise, but I love the stuff (Hellmann’s mayonnaise, please! And no Miracle Whip! Ew!). It’s not like I use it often, but I love it in recipes where it belongs: chicken salad, tuna salad, dips, etc. I recall several years ago brainstorming summer job options with my sister-in-law — one of her requirements for a job was that it didn’t involve mayonnaise!! We had a good laugh over that one. I have a terrible memory, but I’ll never forget it! 😉

Creamy Parmesan Spinach Dip from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess liquid squeezed out
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 cup scallion, chopped
fresh pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Can be made one day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Yield: 2 cups (8 servings, 1/4 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per 1/4 cup): 84 calories; 6.1 g. fat; 16 mg. cholesterol; 172 mg. sodium; 2.4 g. carbohydrate; 0.3 g. fiber; 4.4 g. protein

Result: DELICIOUS! I ate this cold with crackers and veggies, Mr. P heated it up and ate it on chips. It is versatile and scrumptious! It’s perfect to take in lunches to doll-up raw veggies, or as an appetizer at a dinner party. And the portion size is generous for the nutrition stats! Enjoy! 😀

Off for a crazy day! Why do I have a feeling dinner is going to be a Larabar and clementines? Going prepared!

Question: Is it snowing where you are? Do you like mayonnaise?

Drive safe! Stay warm!


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Filed under condiments, fruits and vegetables, Gina's WW Recipes, hors d'oeuvres, low-carb, physical activity, recipe, reduced-calorie, teaching, travel, Uncategorized, vegetarian, work

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Alfredo

Happy Saturday! I am still in my PJ’s, just as I had wished! I don’t know that I’ll make it until 6pm or later – I want to get in some lesson planning and a good workout before the day is done 😉

This meal started out in a humorous way.

Mr P: What’s for dinner?
Me: Spaghetti squash alfredo.
Mr. P: What is spaghetti squash?
Me: Spaghetti squash is spaghetti squash.
Mr. P: Well what is it then, spaghetti or squash?
Me: Both! Squash that looks like spaghetti.
Mr. P: Okay, whatever.

Clearly even those who are married to dietitians are not always well-versed on the varieties of fruits and vegetables out there. And it’s not like I haven’t made spaghetti squash before…Mr. P just probably took a pass at the dinner table! His loss!

Spaghetti Squash Shrimp Alfredo adapted from Healthy Food for Living

1 small large spaghetti squash
1/2 2 Tbsp 50/50 Smart Balance Butter Blend
1 4 small shallots, minced
1 4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 2 Tbsp flour
1/2 2 cups milk (I used organic 1%)
1 4 oz (2 Tbsp 1/2 cup) neufchatel 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Slice squash in half length-wise. Scrape out seeds and place cut-side down in a 9×13 pan lined with tin foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Cook 1 hour.  Once cooked, use a fork to pull the stringy, spaghetti-like squash from the skin. Place into a large bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add in the flour and whisk it into the butter for 30 seconds, or until the mixture is well-combined and foamy.

Pour in the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink and cooked through. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the neufchatel and Parmesan cheeses until the sauce is thick and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top spaghetti squash with alfredo sauce. Yield: 4 servings (approx. 1 1/2 cups spaghetti squash with 4 ounces shrimp and 3/4 cup sauce).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 409 calories; 20.3 g. fat; 213 mg. cholesterol; 720 mg. sodium; 30 g. carbohydrate; 3.3 g. fiber; 32.3 g. protein

Result: I really liked this! Even if you’re not into spaghetti squash, the sauce is well worth making for a traditional pasta. Mr. Prevention said it was very light, and liked the sauce and shrimp — he’s not spaghetti squash’s #1 fan. Be sure to add a bit of salt and pepper to the sauce — it really does need it. Enjoy a lighter shrimp alfredo!

Question: Have you ever had spaghetti squash? Do you like it?

Happy weekend, folks! Off to the coffee shop to lesson plan!

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Filed under butter, carb-controlled, coffee, dinner, fiber, fruits and vegetables, garlic, guilt-free, healthy cooking, recipe, reduced-calorie, salad, teaching, Uncategorized

Epic breakfast…for dinner

Just for fun, here are just a FEW questions my students have asked in our first 2 classes:

  • How often should you have a bowel movement?
  • Is high-fructose corn syrup really worse than sugar?
  • Is stevia safe?
  • Why does the Atkins diet help people lose weight?
  • How many calories do I need to gain weight?
  • Do carbohydrates make you fat?
  • Why does the government subsidize corn  if the MyPyramid is aiming to reduce high-fructose corn syrup consumption?

Do I have some smart, inquisitive pupils or what? I guess I should now mention that the first 2 chapters we’ve gone over have nothing to do with any of those questions (and those were just a FEW), but the class discussion is priceless. And some of the false information floating around out there is just plain’ol SCARY!

So while teaching is going well, a 6pm start time has caused dinners to be very…rushed. And that is quite the understatement.

Let me preface this next part by saying that I am notoriously late, always. Not a lot, but a little. And when you’re the teacher, that just doesn’t fly. So I’m really trying to be ON TIME…if only to class.

Monday night I shoveled down a bowl of cereal and a banana before jetting off to class. Last night, I made an epic breakfast for dinner that I had to eat in, literally, 2 minutes. Of course, had I not taken the time to photograph this lovely meal, I would’ve had 4 minutes or so, but I had to do this French toast justice. Because I very well know that pretty pictures make you more likely to believe my rave reviews…riiiight?

Lightened Up Crème Brûlée French Toast from Skinny Taste

1 cup unpacked brown sugar
1/4 cup water
cooking spray
10 oz Challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick
2 large eggs
1 cup egg substitute
1-1/2 cups 1% milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Meyers rum (optional) – I omitted
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

In a small heavy saucepan melt brown sugar and water over moderate-low heat, stirring, until smooth and melted, about 1 minute, then pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, egg substitute, milk, vanilla, rum, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350° F and bring bread to room temperature. Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 40 to 50 minutes. Top with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 342 calories; 4.5 g. fat; 84 mg. cholesterol; 378 mg. sodium; 64.6 g. carbohydrate; 1 g. fiber; 12.2 g. protein

Result: YUM-O! When I saw Renee rave about this recipe on her blog, I knew I had to try it. As if the title of the recipe wasn’t tempting enough. I made this in the morning and we had it for supper, but you could just as easily, and more traditionally, make it at night to serve the following morning. Super simple, absolutely delicious!

I want to continue making nutritious meals on Monday and Wednesday nights, but I think 1) I need to utilize the crock pot on these nights (or eat leftovers), and 2) I may need to go lighter on lunch and have a small, early dinner (4:30ish) before class and a snack afterward. I did the later last night — one piece of French toast before class and a fresh strawberry and banana smoothie for afterward. It worked well. 🙂

I am looking forward to a long workout and another healthy, homemade meal tonight. Lily is going to daycare so that after work I can get in a long run not feel guilty about it. Plus, she could use the exercise, too! 😉

Question: What’s your favorite quick and easy meal? Or a meal that can be prepped ahead of time?

P.S. Last chance to enter the LARABAR Giveaway! It ends TONIGHT!

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Filed under Atkins, breakfast, carbohydrates, crock pot, dinner, dog, exercise, fruits and vegetables, Gina's WW Recipes, Giveaway, high-fructose corn syrup, pets, physical activity, recipe, running, snack, teaching, vegetarian

Dinner Bucket List

Happy Hump Day!

Thank you so much for your votes of confidence in my new teaching adventure. I’m pumped for class #2 tonight. Yesterday as I was sitting at a local university’s cafe preparing my lesson plan, iPod blasting tunes, skim latte in reach — I had flash backs to being a student myself. Can I just say that I miss it? A lot. Those were the days…

My new schedule has me utilizing every free second of the day. I worked out yesterday morning (40 minutes on the elliptical) so that I could lesson plan after work. And because Lily is spoiled ROTTEN demanding, I went straight to the cafe rather than even TRYING to be productive at home. Rattling off a blog post is enough “neglect” to send the dog into a complete meltdown…I shudder to think what a lesson plan would lead to.

After my lesson planning and latte, I made a quick dinner before running off to Weight Watchers. I will write a full, in-depth review of the new POINTS Plus program after I become acquainted with it. I was less than impressed with the leader, but the members were very fun to talk with and get to know. But more on this next week — Monday or Tuesday, promise!

On to dinner.

Last night’s dinner was on my Bucket List of meals to make. Am I the only one with a Bucket List that revolves 100% around cooking? Don’t answer that, actually. I’ve seen lasagna roll-ups on lots of blogs, in cookbooks, on the internet…everywhere! They are just one of those meals that you can’t wait to dig into. Picture perfect, even. And just…ingenious. Says the girl who loves “cute” food. Without further adieu, lasagna roll-ups!

Lasagna Roll-Ups adapted from Homemade by Holman

8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 pound lean ground turkey (93/7 or leaner)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 egg
1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 3 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 3 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Heat a large pot of water to boiling over high heat.  When it reaches a boil,  add a pinch of salt, and drop in the noodles.  Stir occasionally and cook to just al dente.  Drain noodles and set aside.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add turkey and brown.  When almost cooked through, add tomatoes and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add 1/2 the basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg.  Add ricotta, Parmesan and remaining basil and oregano and stir together.  Spray pan lightly with cooking spray.  Add enough sauce to lightly cover the bottom of the pan.  To assemble, on a drained noodle, add a spoonful of ricotta mixture.  Top with a spoonful of meat sauce and roll up.  Place seam side down in pan.  Continue until you’ve used all the noodles.  Top each with a little more meat sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining crushed red pepper flakes.  Bake approximately 20 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Serves 4 (2 roll-ups per serving).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 387 calories; 14.5 g. fat; 119 mg. cholesterol; 579 mg. sodium; 38.3 g. carbohydrate; 8 g. fiber; 7.5 g. sugar; 30.3 g. protein

Result: Mr. Prevention loved this dish, and so did I. He says, “It was really good…I ate like all of it.” Which, he did eat 2 servings worth, but that’s pretty much on par for Mr. P and his appetite. The roll-ups were less labor-intensive than I would’ve imagined. The dinner came together in about 35 minutes and then baked for 20 minutes, which I find very reasonable. The roll-ups, conveniently, can be made ahead of time and heated later. I love that the calorie content is low and there’s lots of fiber and protein — very filling, and it pairs perfectly with a light tossed salad. Enjoy! 😀

A quick lesson in ricotta. There is low-fat and part-skim ricotta. Low-fat is 60 calories/serving while part-skim is 80 calories/serving. I am ashamed to admit that I have never paid close enough attention to the fact that both of these lower-fat options exist. Alas,  paying attention saved me some calories and saturated fat this time and in the future!

Question: What’s on your “dinner bucket list”?

Don’t forget to enter my LARABAR Giveaway! TEN winners!!!

Be well, Eat well.

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Filed under coffee, dinner, exercise, fiber, garlic, Giveaway, grocery store, healthy cooking, herbs, recipe, reduced-calorie, saturated fat, teaching, Weight Watchers

Teacher, teacher!

I am officially a college instructor! I taught my first nutrition course last night and it went really, really, really well! My class only has one open spot and all of the students seem eager to learn and cooperative. Oh, and VERY talkative. I feel like they asked wonderful questions and I can tell they are all fully engaged. Or at least most of them 😉 It should be a busy, fun quarter! I think I will learn just as much about myself and teaching as my students will about nutrition…or at least that’s my hope! Thank you for all of your kind comments and emails of encouragement – muah! I never imagined being so nervous about teaching a subject I am so educated and passionate about, but my anxiety just melted away as the lecture went on and I felt completely comfortable leading the class; with one class behind me, I am feeling much more at ease. And I will feel even more at easy when I have the next 2 chapters read and ready to lecture on for Wednesday’s class 😉

Anyhoodles, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend ringing in 2011. I enjoyed some Prosecco – delicious! It is going to take a long time for me to quit signing the date as 2010, how about you? I think I finally got over signing ’09 by ohhh…September 😉

Mr. Prevention and I had a very relaxing weekend. I stayed in my PJ’s until 5pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. Now THAT is what I call a weekend! While in my PJ’s, I was rather productive, however. The Christmas decorations are down and packed away, I meal planned for the busy week ahead, I made breakfast for the week, I made bread for a new co-worker of Mr. P’s, I developed my course syllabus and class schedule, etc…productive! 😀 And on a less productive note, The Fighter was fabulous — love, love, loved it!

The breakfast I made for the week was probably the highlight of my PJ time. It was so impressive that I made the same recipe for Mr. P to give to his new co-worker who just moved to town. Yep, impressive recipe it was!

Oatmeal Banana Nut Bread adapted from Joy the Baker, as seen on The Healthy Apron

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
2 medium egg whites, beaten
4 medium over-ripe bananas
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven 350° F and spray 1 loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine all dry ingredients including the oats and cinnamon. Mash bananas in a separate bowl, adding the oil and eggs. Mix thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients into the dry flour mixture; mix until combined (do not over-mix). Fold in chopped walnuts last. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 45-50 mins. Allow to cool 5 minutes and then flip out onto a wire rack. Yield: 10 slices.

Nutrition Information (1/10th of loaf): 208 calories; 4.9 g. fat; 22 mg. cholesterol; 179 mg. sodium; 37.6 g. carbohydrate; 3.8 g. fiber; 15.5 g. sugar; 3.3 g. protein

Result: This was deeeelicious! I love the addition of oats for added fiber and the use of LOTS of bananas makes the wet ingredients lighter than lots of oil, butter, milk, eggs, etc. Erin described this bread as one of her favorite recipes in 2009 and that sealed the deal and I had to make it. Very glad I did — you will love this bread, too. I also simplified the directions…by not reading them — oops! The original recipe called for a hand mixer and beating the egg whites to peaks and folding them in to the mixture. I simply mixed the wet ingredients: eggs, bananas, and oil together and combined with the dry ingredients. The bread was not overly dense and so I saw no reason for the added steps and kitchen mess 😉 Sometimes not following directions ends up in disaster, sometimes it’s a time saver! Enjoy!

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And because my readers love Lily and she was so darn cute this weekend…

What dog spends so much time flat on her back creating endless funny photo ops? LILY!

Question: What’s something you want to accomplish in 2011? Health-related or otherwise!

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the LARABAR giveaway I’m hosting! It ends Thursday! There will be TEN lucky winners!!!

Lots of love,

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Filed under breakfast, dog, fiber, healthy cooking, movie, pets, recipe, reduced-calorie, teaching, vegetarian