June 28, 2012

10 Ways To Choose The Right Healthy Foods

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Being an advocate for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, I am always looking for new ways to learn and share information that I find useful to me.

Today I was given the opportunity to express a topic that I was passionate about and wanted to share with my readers and the group over at Guest Post U wrote for me and did just that. I have my own set of food rules as you all know, so I wanted them to embellish on my rules and healthy tips to live by with sharing their 10 ways to choose the right healthy foods to be a healthier you.

Take it away....

10 Ways To Choose The Right Healthy Foods

Living a healthy life begins with eating a healthy diet. To maintain optimum health, you can exercise and cut back on junk food, but no health regimen is complete without a well balanced diet full of the right kinds of foods. If you want to provide your body with the types of foods it needs to look and feel good, here are 10 ways to help you choose the right healthy foods.

1. Eliminate Processed Foods. Although microwave meals can be an easy and convenient meal choice, most microwavable meals are heavily processed and full of unhealthy ingredients. Cutting down on the amount of processed food you eat can greatly improve your overall health.

2. Eat Fresh. Whenever possible, try to include plenty of fresh foods in your diet. Not only will fresh fruits and vegetables taste better than canned ones, but fresh fruits and vegetables also have more healthy nutrients needed for a well balanced, healthy diet.

3. Choose Good Fats. There are a wide variety of fat free food products, but sometimes those foods are missing the good fats you need to maintain optimum health. Instead of choosing to eat only fat free foods, opt for foods that are high in good fats like omega-3.

4. Get Your Protein. Protein is an essential nutrient needed to build muscle and maintain hormonal balance, so it is important that you include plenty of protein rich foods in your diet if you want to stay healthy.

5. Include Fiber. In order for your digestive system to stay healthy, your diet needs to include plenty of foods that are high in fiber. According to a startling statistic, the average person only gets a small amount of the recommended daily amount of fiber he or she needs to maintain good health. Don't be a part of this statistic by including plenty of fiber into your diet.

6. Vitamins and Minerals. Getting the daily required amount of vitamins and minerals is one of the most important parts of a healthy diet. Be sure to eat foods that are rich in calcium and other important vitamins and minerals if you want your body to be in healthy shape.

7. Good Sugar. All sugars are not created equal. For example, healthy sugars like those found in fresh fruit are important to the healthy balance of your body. Be sure to always read the labels on food before you buy it because many healthy foods that you wouldn't think contain sugar actually do.

8. Limit Sodium Intake. Although sodium is an important mineral the body needs, too much of it can be a bad thing. Too much sodium is not healthy, especially for people with high blood pressure.

9. Watch Your Calories. Depending on your body type, there is a daily recommended amount of calories you need to keep trim while maintaining your health. When you go beyond your daily recommended calorie intake you risk gaining weight and endangering your health.

10. Limit Cholesterol. All animal products, like meat and dairy products, contain cholesterol. Having too much cholesterol can harm your heart so it is important that you keep your daily cholesterol intake low if you want to stay healthy.

If keeping in good health is important to you, you need to adjust your diet in the 10 above listed ways. It is not hard to stay healthy if you know how to eat right, so improve your health by incorporating these dietary changes into your life.

Gracie Cordery loves to cook and to write about cooking. She is a contributing author at http://www.healthinsurancequotes.org/

So much of everything said is what I believe in and such great and valuable information. As I always say... shop your farmers markets first, around the outsides of the grocrey store where all your fresh 'real' foods are second, and portion yourself and what you eat.

Food is a means to live, and we all want to live as the healthiest versions of ourself but you do not have to sacrifice good taste and great food. If you plan your meals ahead, shop for real foods that will make your body perform at it's best and leave you happy and satisfied, then you are on the right path for a leaner, happier and healthier YOU!!!

And dont forget, we all have something we love or food we crave... but that doesnt mean you should de-rail all together. Find a better, healthier version of what you love, portion yourself to one serving or two depending on the treat, and save it for a special occation.
Last Post: Celery and Apple Salad

Have a great week lovies!!

June 25, 2012

Celery and Apple Salad {SRC}

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Monday, Monday, Monday. I don't want Monday to come.
I cant believe the weekend is gone already, but you also know what that means... it's Secret Recipe Club reveal day!!!
Today I am really excited to introduce to you Sally from Bewitching Kitchen. Sally's blog has recently turned 3 years old so you can only imagine the delicious and wide variety of recipes that I had to choose from. There were so many authentic Brazilian dishes, being that is where Sally was born and raised but she also has had the opportunity to live in Paris as well as here in the state for many years and her recipe index truely reflects her different tastes.
I had a tricky time trying to choose what I would post for my SRC reveal for two reasons, first obviously being that some of Sally's recipes hooked me and had me drooling. Secondly, I just started weight watchers to shed those extra pounds before wedding day, which scarily is only 3 months away... time flys when you only have 4 months to plan a wedding, move and have your newly husby deploy, yikes.
So being that I am counting those points and watching extra carefully what goes in my belly, I wanted to choose a recipe that I could make a heaping batch of to have for dinner and maybe for lunch during the week. This is how I finally landed on Sally's Celery and Apple Salad. Yum.

It just sounds delicious doesn't it, nice and crunchy and perfect for these miserably hot days? (I hear thunderstorms are coming in tomorrow so hopefully it will break up this muggy heat).
This salad absolutly held up to it's expectation. It was light, refreshing, and being that there are really only two major ingredients and I bought them fresh... the salad had such a crisp taste, it was fabulous. I decided to add freshly grated peppercorn romano instead of the black sesame seeds purely for personal preference but try a bunch of toppings and see what you like. Thanks Sally for showing me this salad and letting me poke around this month at all your delicious goodies.
Celery and Apple Salad

1 small shallot, finely minced
1/2 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Champagne vinegar
6 tbsp good quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 green apples, grated
3/4 cup celery, sliced very thin
1 T freshly grated peppercorn romano cheese (or black sesame seeds)

Make the dressing by adding the minced shallot, mustard and vinegar to the serving bowl. Mix well and slowly add the olive oil, constantly whisking to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper, then taste the dressing and adjust seasoning as needed.

Grate the apples and add them to the dressing, mix well. Add the celery, mix, and shred romano cheese on top just before serving.

Recipe adapted by Bewitching Kitchen

Please stop by Sally's blog and show her some love on all the wonderful and delicious recipes she has and make sure to let her know I sent you.

Click here for more of my SRC reveal posts!

June 21, 2012

Hummus-Stuffed Sweet Baby Pepper Bites

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I am not quite sure how it's come about but for the last two weeks my future husby and I have been getting home later than normal, which in turn means having dinner much later than our tummies expect. 

Sometimes everything works out and we throw together dinner in minutes, like our Cucumber Buttermilk Soup or White Cheddar and Asparagus Mac n' Cheese but sometimes dinner takes a little more time and I start to snack. Now, snacking as we all know isn't the best but when your not home till 7pm and you need to fire up the grill... snacking is a must.
 Snacking doesn't always have to be unhealthy or take forever for good taste... just a quick trip to the grocery store for under $7. This snack was something brought out at a work party and I have been making it ever since. It's quick, easy, delicious and a HEALTHY taste everyone will love.

And everyone loves a healthy delicious snack or appetizer.
 I made these as an appetizer a few weeks ago for my girlfriends and they were a huge hit. We got home late again this week so out came the stuffed peppers to save the day before dinner came off the grill. 

These bites are sweet with the flavor combination of whatever hummus you decide to stuff them with. Jalapeño and garlic are two other hummus flavors that I am absolutely planning on trying with these bites soon as well.

These snacks are so easy to throw together and keep in your fridge for a quick one-two appetizer when you have guests over and believe me, this is no skimpy snack. Our bites were great, held me over till dinner and I was a happy girl.
Hummus-Stuffed Sweet Baby Pepper Bites
Servings: 4-6 people

1 pint sweet baby peppers (all red or mixed colors)
1 container classic hummus

freshly cracked black pepper

Drain baby peppers to remove most of the marinated oil.

Spoon hummus into each little pepper opening or pipe with a icing tip for a more decretive look. Sprinkle cracked black pepper over bites and serve chilled.

Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 


June 20, 2012

Spinach Salad with Sautéed Mushrooms and Shrimp

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Hi my loves!!

Oh, I am so sorry it has taken me so long to get back in the groove and into my kitchen. But no worries, I am back. Life has been so crazy lately and I can't believe how much time has gone by.

I have had a lot on my plate these days but mainly, any down-time I have at work has been consumed with these two (very vital) interests:
Yes, my life has been consumed with the obsessively talked about best seller Fifty Shades of Grey and of course, planning planning planning for our wedding in only 4 months.


This past weekend we also drove up to Lake Placid, home of the future winter Olympics, for our friends Jen and Dan's wedding weekend. Start to finish it was blast. Beers down by the lake, rehearsal dinner barbecues, late night bonfire chats, a tear jerking beautiful wedding, a hell of a crazy reception and popping champagne with the gang and DJ Big John till 3am... needless to say it was an awesome weekend and one we won't forget.
 Then Monday came.

Ever have the best weekend ever and follow it by a 6am wake-up call to go to work...? It's the worst. My body still hasn't caught up on sleep and I am drinking more green tea and coffee than normal but it was still all worth it.

Now I know I just mentioned I have also been planning our wedding the past couple of weeks but we've finally set a date for this October and I am screaming with excitement. Finding a venue to host one of the best days of your life is a nightmare, and even more so when you are looking to throw it all together in only 4 months. But God smiled down and found us the most amazing place. No more stresses or worries, we're making it happen.
 So now that we actually have a wedding date and plans are all underway, Paul and I looked at each other wide-eyed and said 'we need to start making a plan to lose weight for the big day'. Ughhhh, the dreaded weight loss. Luckily we both eat pretty healthy (with the exception of long weekend weddings in Lake Placid) so as long as we kicked up the workouts and leaned out the heavy carbs, we will be in pretty good shape. 
 Last night I made one of my favorite salads with a few twists. We came home from the wedding with very little in our fridge but I knew this could work with what was in the house.

Grilled or sautéed shrimp is good in any salad. You could probably put shrimp on iceberg lettuce with no dressing and it would be delicious (not that you ever should) but tonight I wanted a spinach salad with the delicious mini bella mushrooms, light and tasty.

This salad is light, refreshing and filled with flavors. The capers in the salad dressing pair perfectly with the sautéed mushrooms. Top with creamy crumbled goat cheese and shrimp...and you have yourself a quick and easy dinner. You can always add more shrimp for the hungry-man's appetite but this filled us up and made me smile. Healthy happy dinners made at home and in only 15 minutes. Now that's what I am talking about.
Spinach Salad with Sautéed Mushrooms and Shrimp 
Servings: 2


3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chopped capers
1 tsp honey
10 cups spinach
1/2 lb  jumbo cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 lb sliced fresh baby bella mushrooms
1/2 small onion, halved and sliced
2 oz package goat cheese, crumbled

kosher salt and black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, oil, capers, honey, salt and cracked pepper.

In a saucepan, saute onions and mushrooms however you would like. I chose to add a drop of olive oil and a few shakes of a balsamic and garlic vinaigrette to fragrance and brown the veggies nicely.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach, shrimp, mushroom and onion blend and crumbles goat cheese with the vinaigrette until coated evenly.

Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 


June 13, 2012

Pita Bread Salad with Cucumber, Mint and Feta

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It's potluck season!!!

I dont know about you all but for me this time of year means end-of year celebrations and pot luck dinners. I cant tell you how many different recipes that I have come across and different tastes at pot lucks but that is the fun and mystery of it all.
I always try to bring something different each time I go, and with 4 pot luck dinners just this month I had to start getting creative outside the traditional potato salad.

I saw this recipe some time ago and I just loved it. I served it up on Mother's Day at our family brunch at my Momma's house and it went over beautifully. The presentation is so nice and the crip taste of the salad and nutty cheese is wonderful.
Salads are a staple for pot lucks, especially when there are a lot of women. They are light, refreshing and easy on the calories so they make for a very appealing option. Salads are perfect for brunches and holidays as well because you can cater to your guest list what you will put into the salad and change up the flavors to your liking. 
Personally, the flavors in this salad were fabulous for my Mother's Day brunch and I knew it needed to make a repeat appearance for my pot luck dinner last week. My one recipe was no match for a room full of ladies but those that had it truely enjoyed it.
The mint and cucumber was so light and refreshing to add to salad and then nutty feta cheese and crispy whole wheat pita crutons truely balanced out this recipe and made for an outstanding fork-full.

I actually didn't get to eat much of my own dish at the pot luck because I was too busy gawking over all the other fabulous dishes. I will just have to make this again for dinner this week and possibly throw a few grilled shrimp on top for a well rounded meal.
Sounds perfect.
Pita Bread Salad with Cucumber, Mint and Feta
Servings: 6

2 small whole wheat pita breads, cut into 1-inch squares
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cucumber, line-peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 bunch fresh mint, trimmed and thinly slices
1/2 bunch watercress, trimmed
6 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pita squares on a baking sheet and bake until they are nice and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and olive oil, and season with salt.

In a medium salad bowl, combine toasted pita bread, celery and cucumber. Add vinegar mixture, and toss well to combine. Just before serving, add mint and watercress and gently toss again. Sprinkle feta cheese over the top and season with pepper.

Recipe adopted by Eat Yourself Skinny

Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Calories: 159

Fat: 11 g
Carbs: 8.6 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 6.3 g
Points+: 4 pts
Last Post: Zucchini Oven Chips


June 08, 2012

Fresh Zucchini Oven Chips

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Life has been so crazy lately what with it being the end of the year wrap-up for work, putting a summer event together for 260+ soldiers and their families and, or course, planning a wedding in 4 months. Ahh I still can't believe I am getting married. This all comes at a time where we're also re-organizing our home and putting in new rugs.

Planning a wedding is very exciting but super overwhelming at the same time. We are planning to set our date this weekend for a date in late September or early October of THIS year.

Did you know that when you are planning a wedding in 4 months and look at a wedding checklist... it basically tells you that you needed to get 60% of your wedding planning done like the day after you're engaged. YIKES, not fair!
Thankfully I have two amazing helping hands in my whole wedding process being that I don't have much free time of my own for calls and follow-up. My gf Katie has been wonderful in pulling venues, budgets, caterers, and all things wedding planning and I am so lucky to have her help. My other friend is Pinterest, my loving wedding-bliss board has helped me pull together ideas and really get a feel for what my wedding will look and feel like.

Pinterest is such the idea creater and I love every second of it... for wedding ideas, food recipes, DIY crafts with kids or for around the home, it's just the all around go-to these days. 
So things are slowly moving forward in planning and preparing for the big day with as little stress as I can contain. Nothing has been more comforting than my fiance, my favorite sweats and my get-me-through-the-day snacks.

I am a salty over sweet kind of girl. So show me some double chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of chips and I will sure enough be shoveling those chips one after another. Now I know chips aren't the healthiest of snacks but in a bind and when your tummy's rumbling it's an easy fix to give in and reach for a handful of that salty crunch.

To break this trend I am trying to be more prepared. The better prepared you are with your meals and with your snacking, the better your decisions will be.

I had made apple chips and kale chips before but I had never thought to make zucchini chips. You know just by the sound of them that they would be delicious. Crispy, crunchy and lots of flavor, and for only 61 calories you can totally dig in without any guilt. You want to eat them fresh when they are made. They might get a little sogy if left in a bag overnight but crispy right up again if you put them in the toaster oven.

These zucchini chips let me snack away while still keeping to a healthy diet, and I am a girl that loves her snacks. The parmesan and garlic add such an aromatic smell and taste to these chips that will have everyone reaching for more. Try them at your next summer barbeque or cocktail party, they will be a hit.

Zucchini Oven Chips
Servings: 4


1/4 cup dry whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp low-fat milk (or almond milk)
2 1/2 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices zucchini (about 2 small)
Cooking spray 

Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place milk in a shallow bowl. Dip zucchini slices in milk, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Place coated slices on an ovenproof wire rack coated with cooking spray; place rack on a baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño
Recipe adopted by Cooking Light

Per Serving: 61 calories; 1.9g fat' 3.8g protein; 7.6g carbohydrate; 1g fiber; 5mg cholesterol; 231mg sodium; 87mg calcium


June 04, 2012

Baked Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries {with Garlic Aioli Sauce}

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Ever get that absolute craving for fries?

Wait, who are we kidding??? Everyone gets that craving for fries, at least once and a while. Something about those little crispy potato wedges that send our tastes buds soaring. They are great for big and small and old and young kids alike, and the best part is, you can find them everywhere.
The best place that I have ever had fries was at Thrashers on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. These fries had a rustic crispiness without being drenched in oil. The only downfall, their big 'wow-factor' is putting apple-cider vinegar on your fries.

Well, I am still a plain-jane kinda girl but little did I know that if you didn't like the apple-cider vinegar there was no other flavoring or condiment option. That's right... not even ketchup. 
I bet you (as I did all the girls that I was with for the bachelorette that night) that if I stood about 50ft away from their storefront and sold little ketchup packets for $0.50 each, I would be a millionaire? Well, once I retire and move further down south I will test my theory and let you know. Until then, just food for thought.

Either way, the fries were still delicious all by them selves and we were all smart enough to order our own and as expected, there was not a single fry left to share.
Back to my baked stick fries, I love making my own fries at home. You always have the option to toss the fries in whatever seasoning you want and 9 times out of 10, your going to make a leaner, healthier fry too.

Sweet potato fries are my absolute favorite and Paul's too, so we try to make them about once a week to jazz up a chicken or turkey burger dinner. 
Baked Chipotle Sweet Potato Fries {with Garlic Aioli Sauce}
Servings: 2 (as a side)

Cooking: 40 mins

1 sweet potato, peeled and rustic cut
1 tbsp olive oil
1 egg white
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, egg white, salt, white pepper and chili powder.  Add the sweet potato sticks in the bowl and toss until all the fries are coated in the mixture.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes (20 minutes on each side) or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender but crispy. I like to leave them in a few minutes longer until they get really crispy on the outside.

Garlic Aioli 
1 tbsp mayonnaise

2 tbsp sour cream
3 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt & black pepper

Mix mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe and photos by A Healthy Jalapeño

Featured In: The Berry