Monthly Archives: June 2016

8 Things Fit People Do

Being the yoga instructor, #healthyfoodporn hashtag using Instagram cook, and lifestyle blogger that I am, I often receive a lot of questions about how to get fit and stay fit. Friends, acquaintances, and strangers come to me for my advice on how they can achieve greater health. I offer my tips and tricks like in the blog post here, and I always always always stand firm with my belief that being fit is about creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself that you can sustain over a long period of time rather than a quick fix diet or work out program. Also important, I always remind that a pant/dress size or scale number does not equivocate good health, but rather an overall feeling of wellness and ability.

All that being said, people still want to know how us-in-shape-people do it. I know lots of in shape people, and most of us have several things in common with the way we live our lives. So, I will share those with you now so that maybe you can see what we do and if those things appear to be ones you can do in your own life.

1. We prepare much of our own food

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Fit people still go out, fit people still get take out; but fit people also buy whole food ingredients and cook/prep many to the majority of our own meals. By purchasing quality ingredients and handling the preparation of them, we are able to control the amounts of fat, sodium, sugar, etc. in our food as well as manage our portions. It’s just an integral part of the lifestyle. It means carving out time to shop for the groceries, cook, and pack the food; it means hella Tupperware and a messy kitchen, but you feel great, often saves money, and it can be more flavorful too!

I have looked into the flames….

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…And I see Rubbermaid in your future!

tupperware

2. We make exercise a priority –

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It’s true; fit people make getting in movement an absolute priority in our day. I hear a lot of excuses along the lines of “I just don’t have time,” and that very well may be if you are just hoping for a random hour to open up in your day so you can fit a sweat in. The fact is, no matter how busy fit people are, they schedule the time for exercise in and rarely negotiate about it. It sometimes means getting up an hour earlier to make it to a before sunrise yoga or aerobics class or having lunch at your desk so you can squeeze in a gym sesh or spin class over your lunch break, but fit people will make it happen no matter what. Why? Because it makes us feel strong, it makes us feel good, and it makes us healthier and happier the rest of the time! The sacrifice of an hour is well worth it.

3. We drink tons of water –

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We are very blessed in the Western world to have access to clean running water. As much fun as water slides are, a much better use for all that water is using it for hydration! Hydration comes with many various health benefits including aiding digestion, purifying internally, releasing water retention and bloating, and even revving up metabolism. Fit people end up sweating a lot, and so we need a lot of water to replenish, and when we get it, our bodies are the happiest!

4. We sleep –

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Fit people make sure to get ample rest and sleep; when you’re active, it is important to allow your body to recuperate on the daily. A lot of us might be considered grandmas in that we choose to turn in early so that we can catch a full 7-8 hours, but here again, we make it a priority and it feels so good!

5. We are active in our free time –

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A lot of fit people choose hobbies and activities in their free time that involve getting outdoors and moving, and they genuinely enjoy it. Here again, it is all part of the lifestyle! For me, I enjoy taking my dog to the park after work or going on a Saturday hike, some people enjoy surfing in the mornings or playing football in the park on a weekend afternoon. These are all activities enjoyed in addition to normal exercise and movement that we simply find fun and fulfillment in while also being active and getting fresh air.

6. We eat, a lot –

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Yes, we prepare much of our own food, yes we control our portion sizes, but that doesn’t mean we are eating just kale and orange segments. Healthy people eat every few hours and make sure to get plenty of good foods with lots of nutrition. Starving yourself for 10 hours straight does not equal health, feeding yourself nutritionally rich foods every 2-4 hours usually does. Which would you choose?

7. We say no –

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Sad Panda, but sometimes we have to say no. Sometimes we turn down the slice of cake if we’ve been having too much sugar or we opt for the chicken and vegetables rather than the burger if we’ve been going to town on the carbs and salt. This is NOT to say you can never have the cake or the burger, but you have to check in with yourself and see what is going to make you FEEL the best, and sometimes that means saying no.

Here’s a sad Panda for you

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8. We say YES!

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Living a life of strict eating patterns that never permits a little indulgence is not fun or sustainable. It is important to enjoy what life puts on the plate for you, and sometimes that is a big pizza or brownie Sunday. Don’t be afraid to indulge and enjoy: make sure to treat yourself! Complete deprivation is not the goal here, its balance. Your dessert Monday through Thursday might’ve been a small piece of dark chocolate, but on Friday go ahead and have the Pizookie! You are golden! I live by an 80%/20% rule: 80% of the time I eat those traditionally healthier choices, 20% of the time I eat whatever the hell I want without apologies! So eat up me hearties yo-ho!

So, those are some of the things us “fit” people do. But remember, even if you are starting a new fitness journey, be kind to yourself and love yourself as you are now and along every step of the way!

Bleu BBQ Chicken Pizza

We all love pizza. We all love BBQ. Thus, it makes sense to combine these two marvelous genres of foods, right?? Right! Almost every American-style pizza place (alla BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse and California Pizza Kitchen) has some sort of BBQ Chicken Pizza these days, and it fantastic; you really can’t go wrong with ordering one. I and many of my friends love BBQ chicken pizza so much that we have taken to making these BBQ flavored pies in our own homes because it really is so simple to make something so good and so beloved.

My dear friend and former blogging partner from my Confessions of Two College Foodies days, Nicole, first taught me how to make BBQ Chicken Pizza. Her and her family made a version very similar to that of California Pizza Kitchen and it was phenomenal; it quickly became a staple in my own household; for that recipe click here. Since then, however, I have sought to make a recipe that is unique to me so that I am not thieving!

Classic BBQ Pizza

Here is a throwback to the classic version, sans bleu cheese and peppers.

When developing this new recipe, I thought about some of the ingredients and flavors I like to add to more traditional BBQ dishes. When it comes to BBQ burgers, my favorite cheese is bleu cheese; the pungent tang of the bleu plays perfectly off of the sweet richness of BBQ sauce. I also enjoy adding the freshness of red and yellow bell peppers to BBQ dishes as they seem to really brighten up a thick BBQ feast. So, I have added those few ingredients to my friend’s original BBQ Chicken Pizza recipe to make this unique Bleu BBQ Chicken Pizza.

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The new Bleu BBQ Chicken Pizza! Could you resist???

This pizza is insanely easy to make, rather inexpensive, and completely delectable. This recipe is perfect for the summer months for those times when you need the texture and ease of a pizza but still want that summery, smokey BBQ flavor. I hope you enjoy!

Bleu BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound store bought pizza dough, plain or wheat (I like Trader Joe’s dough)
  • 3/4 cup store bought BBQ sauce
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, chopped into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup bleu cheese crumbles
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • ½ yellow bell pepper sliced into strips
  • ¼ cup parsley or cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Preheat the oven to according the directions on your store bough pizza dough.

Roll out the dough into a thin, oblong shape and place on an oiled baking sheet. (Pro-tip: sprinkle course cornmeal on the baking sheet to help prevent the pizza dough from sticking)

Pour half the BBQ sauce on the surface of the dough and spread with the back of a spoon or a pastry brush in an even layer right up to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella and bleu cheese crumbles evenly over the pizza.

In a medium bowl, toss the cooked chicken in the remaining BBQ sauce and distribute evenly across the surface of the pizza. Arrange the sliced red onion and bell peppers all over the pizza.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the dough is cooked golden and the cheese is melted and bubbling. In the last few minutes of cooking, sprinkle with the parsley or cilantro.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Cut into rustic squares and serve!

 

Food for Life Baking Company Review

Today I am here to talk to you about bread. Yes, bread. Who doesn’t love it? Bread is awesome; the best! There’s even an quote that says, “All sorrows are less with bread,” and that is so true, whoever said that was onto something.

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There is, however, a downside to bread; SO. MANY. CARBS. The sad truth is that we do have to watch our intake of bread because of the carbs it packs on. Part of watching that intake, is choosing the best kinds of breads for your body to eat on a normal basis. This is not to say that you can’t enjoy a big, warm sourdough roll or a baguette every so often; but on a day to day basis, it is advised to opt for the whole grain, full fiber, etc etc incarnations of breads. And sometimes, that is sad.

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Panda is sad about the carbs.

But fear not my friends, I bring you tidings of great joy; there is a baking company out there that brings you absurdly delicious breads with tons and tons of nutrition:

FOOD FOR LIFE BREAD

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Continue reading

Chicken Bellagio

Years ago when I was a teenager, the cool thing to do for us youngsters was to go to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before catching a movie. A favorite dish of my friends and I was their Chicken Bellagio; pesto spaghetti, breaded chicken, prosciutto, and a lemon arugula salad – simple yet completely delectable! It is so simple, in fact, that one night while scarfing down the dish before running off to an 8 o’clock film, I had a culinary epiphany: I could totally make this at home for probably less money and for more people. And so, two days later I called on my Italian ancestors to guide me and I created a Copycat Chicken Bellagio Recipe that is to this day a friend and family favorite!

When I was the co-author of my first foodie blog, Confessions of Two College Foodies, this copycat recipe was by far our most popular and most well-read; we even made it on a local access cooking show (which I will not link to here because the 20 year old incarnation of me is much more tragic than the 25 year old one). Anyway, people love this recipe because it is so tasteful and quite elegant despite utilizing simple ingredients.

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Chicken Bellagio is a meal that gives you everything you need on one plate: carbs, protein, and greens. Rich and fresh pesto spaghetti is topped with a piece of tender and crunchy breaded chicken, which is then topped with slice of salty and delicate Prosciutto, which is then finished with a tangy and peppery arugula salad. All of these flavor profiles – the herbal freshness from the pesto and the arugula, the saltiness from the prosciutto, and the tanginess from lemon – make this such a magnificently balanced dish.

It is a little bit of work to time everything and get it all assembled, but once you’ve got the meal plated, it is really delightful and presents so beautifully. Furthermore, you can make this very elegant meal for friends and family for about $25-$35 for 4-6 people, which would easily run you over $100 when going out to eat; make this a winner in not only flavor, but in price.

This is going to be your new go-to when craving a restaurant quality meal, right in your own home!

Chicken Bellagio

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders or cutlets
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cream or half & half
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus another 2 tablespoons
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1-1/2 cups store bought or homemade pesto (click here for a reliable homemade pesto recipe)
  • 4 slices Prosciutto
  • 3 cups arugula
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

For the Chicken –

Pound the chicken breast tenders or cutlets until very thin. Season both sides with about a ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper each.

Create a breading station using 3 bowls. In the 1st bowl, mix the flour, garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper each. In the 2nd bowl, beat the eggs with the cream or half & half till completely mixed. In the 3rd bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. One by one, dip the chicken cutlets on both sides in the flour making sure to shake off excess, then the egg mixture making sure to let excess drain off, then in the breadcrumb mixture being sure to coat completely.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the breaded chicken cutlets. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the breading is golden brown.

For the Pasta –

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Reserve a cup of the pasta water. Drain the pasta. Place pasta in a large bowl and add the remaining 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese and the pesto. Toss to coat, adding pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce and make sure all noodles are perfectly coated in the pesto.

For the Arugula Salad –

Add the arugula to a salad bowl. Zest 1 lemon directly onto the lettuce. Mix the juice of the 2 lemons, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Pour over the arugula and toss.

To assemble –

Place 1 serving (about 1/8th to ¼ of the total) of spaghetti into a wide pasta bowl or onto a plate. Place 1 piece of chicken atop the post. Lay 1 piece of the Prosciutto over the chicken. Top the chicken and Prosciutto with a ¼ cup or so of the arugula salad. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and serve.