Thursday, December 29, 2011

Nut So Fried Chicken

As you well know, I am from the south. And in the south, we eat fried chicken. In fact, we consider good fried chicken to be a form of art! And I happened to grow up with the cookin-est southern momma you can imagine. So we frequently ate fried chicken. I happen to believe hers is the best you can find anywhere and I’d place that bet for any amount of money on any day. We gamble in the south too….you’ve probably heard of the Kentucky Derby! That said, I must admit that I absolutely looooove fried chicken. Well, let me amend that. I love my momma’s fried chicken. This chicken and waffle trend up here in New England is fine, but the chicken just aint the same!

The problem is that…oh yeah….it’s FRIED CHICKEN! And besides the fact that I won’t make it because it’ll never taste like my momma’s, its just BAD BAD BAD for your heart, no matter how good it may be for your soul! So I’m regularly thinking of making yummy oven baked “fried” chicken. Unfortunately, I usually feel pretty luke warm about the end result and I’m so partial to the grill that I usually just don’t bother.

However, last week in my organics box, I added some locally grown pecans! I’m a nut freak so there you go. And what we ended up with friends was a spectacular, yes, spectacular oven “fried” chicken BREAST. Finally!

Here’s the breakdown:

½ cup pecans
¼ cup bread crumbs
*toast some wheat bread to make them
¼ tsp crushed red peppers
zest of one Clementine
½ tsp salt

2 chicken breasts
1 egg white
2 Tbsp water
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Put the first 5 ingredients into a food processor and process it until it is thin. Pour into a pie pan or something similar. Mix the egg white and water also into a pie pan. Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally to make two thin pieces. Dip the chicken in the egg mix and then the pecan mix. Spray a cookie sheet with olive oil spray, place the chicken on the cookie sheet and spray a little of the olive oil on top of the chicken. Bake for 20 minutes flipping them half way through.

I also received in this box some locally grown baby brussel sprouts. If they are big sprouts, I usually cut them in half, but not the babies. I typically roast my brussel sprouts with olive oil and a little s&p. I adore them and can pretty much eat them anyway you wanna serve them to me. Josh on the other hand, does not like my recipe! Don’t kill him friends, he eats them anyway because of my insistence that they’re super good for you. However, my friend Gregory fed them to him one night and he came home raving. Ok Gregory, what did you do? The secret….herbs de provence. Gregory lets them sit in olive oil, s&p and herbs de provence for a while before he roasts them. Well that’s easy, please and thank you!

So that’s what I did and booooy was Josh right. They were so amazing! If you think you don’t like brussel sprouts, I challenge you to try these and not like them! Rule of thumb, roast ALL vegetables at 425 degrees for 18 minutes! The will ALWAYS come out perfect. Promise! So this works out perfectly, just put them in at the same time as the chicken. I also served this with a bit of greens. 

Now let me push the brussel sprouts to you for another reason. They are GOOD FOR YOU!

Brussels sprouts are high in protein, accounting for more than a quarter of their calories. They are loaded with vitamin A, folacin, potassium, and calcium. They are high in fiber making them one of those foods that will fill you up and keep you trim. Brussels sprouts are also rich in vitamin C, an anti-cancer agent.

One of My Fab Christmas Presents!
So eat ‘em up friends and buy them locally if you can!  

Monday, December 26, 2011

All Aboard the Breakfast Train

Breathe in…..haaaaaaaa! If you yoga, you know this sound! If you don’t, get to yoga, this sound will make you happy! That’s how I feel friends. I am done with the super cleanse. Feeling great and eating stuff I can share with you! I hear cheers from the peanut gallery! Or maybe it’s just in my head! Either way, I’m blogging today to pass along my new found respect for breakfast and give you a yummy suggestion.

So as I said in my cleanse blogs, I’ve learned by doing that breakfast is indeed, the most important meal of the day. I have also learned from my trainer’s constant reiteration and from doing the cleanse, that carbs in the morning may be the best time to eat them (and around your workouts). And I do like the idea of carbs in the morning. Whole carbs that is, not white bread toast or donuts!

Despite the fact that I’m on the bandwagon with this, I am still not a huge fan of atypical breakfast foods. I know people that LOVE breakfast….I think these people are freaks! *wink wink So I wanted to share two breakfasts I’ve recently eaten and pretty much loved. Whaaaaaat? I am a changed woman!

The first one I actually stole from Men’s Health Magazine. It is a breakfast sandwich that I can actually feel working in my body if I eat it just before my workout. They call it apple jacked; I call it delicioso!

Here’s the breakdown:
1 Whole Wheat English Muffin, toasted
2-3 Slices Canadian Bacon, warmed in the skillet
1-2 Tbsp Peanut Butter, Crunchy if you’re me!
*I mean the kind that is ground up peanuts w/out salt or sugar, I use Teddie brand
¼ to ½ green apple sliced 

Stack this up however makes sense to you and enjoy! It sounds weird to you, I know, but trust me…it is crazy delicious. Might even make Elvis proud!

The second breakfast suggestion I have for you is eggs. Now, when I tell you that pre-cleanse, I NEVER ate eggs for breakfast. Maaaaybe once or twice a month. But I’m a believer in the incredible edible egg and I’ve been alternating days of eating eggs.

Here’s the breakdown:
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp Orange Pepper, diced
1 Tsp Onion, diced
1 Handful Grape tomatoes, quartered
2 Slices Canadian Bacon, diced
½ Handful Fresh Cilantro
Olive Oil Spray

2 Small Potatoes, sliced very thin
Borsari Seasoning
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Microwave the potato slices for about 4 minutes to get them cooked. Then place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Spray with a tiny bit of oil spray (DO NOT USE TOO MUCH) and sprinkle with borsari seasoning (reference my 10/20/11 Pork Tenderloin & Apples if you don’t know what it is/looks like/where to get it), pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Roast them for about 30 minutes or until brown. Sauté the orange pepper, onion, tomatoes and Canadian bacon in a smidge of oil spray for about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet. Lightly coat small skillet with oil spray. Over medium-low (more low than medium) cook eggs, pushing sides in and allowing uncooked egg to reach the pan. Flip your omelet, turn off the heat and add your veggie/Canadian bacon mix. Let sit on hot pan for about 2 minutes. Fold egg over mixture and put on plate with fresh cilantro sprinkles on top. Serve with half the potatoes.

All aboard the breakfast train friends! And I’m all ears for suggestions on yummy breakfasts that you love. Email me your faves and if I love them, I’ll totally blog them!

Sleep and wake well all!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spicy Turkey

Well, I’ve rejoined the population of people who choose their own meals. So I’m trying to practice some of the stuff I learned from my cleanse in my everyday! But I’m back in the kitchen and happy as a clam about it. I forgot how much joy cooking and feeding people really gives me!

You can only imagine what my grocery trip was like last weekend. I was picking up anything and everything (health food of course, no blue box mac n cheese)! Blackberries, fish, papayas, apples, carrots, Brussels, carrots, whole wheat English muffins, eggs…should I keep going? Anyway, I really enjoy burgers and turkey burgers and we actually already had some ground turkey in the freezer. So I found a Rachael Ray (don’t judge me) recipe and prepped it a night in advance to give the flavors time to marry. It was for a “jerky turkey burger” so it had jerk flavors in it. I was super excited to have something very spicy in the que! I may not have mentioned, but I’m not a sweets eater. Spicy, however, is my addiction! So Ms. Ray uses jalapenos in her recipe….I replaced it with habanero and I suggest you do the same!

Turkey Burger
1 1/3 package ground turkey breast
1 garlic clove, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 habanero pepper, minced
1” ginger root, grated
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp black pepper
Kosher salt
olive oil
1 ripe lime, juiced
Greens or whole wheat bun

Papaya Salsa
1 large, ripe papaya, seeded, peeled and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 habanero pepper, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
1 navel orange, juiced
Coarse salt

Combine the turkey, garlic, scallions, ginger, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, salt and habanero pepper in a medium bowl. Let this sit overnight. Form mixture into 4 large patties. Drizzle the patties with a touch of oil. Grill patties on screaming hot grill for approximately 6 minutes per side. Squeeze the juice of 1 ripe lime over the patties before removing them from the heat.

Combine the papaya, red bell pepper, red onion, habanero pepper, cilantro and orange juice in a bowl. Season salsa with salt, to your taste. This can sit overnight as well if you want a super quick meal the next night!

So in my attempt to rethink when, what and how I eat carbs, I decided to have this turkey burger on a bed of greens instead of a bun. Josh ate the bun. Stack them up anyway you want, either way it was delicious! Put lots of the salsa on top of your burger! It’ll burn so good! The meal was fabulously spicy and I felt great afterwards.

My Dinner
Josh's dinner

Salud friends! Yay Food!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The New Meags....Day 21!

When I began Bryen Pinkard’s 21 Day Cleanse, I was only a couple pounds over the weight I wanted to be. I am lucky enough to have loads of friends and loved ones that regularly tell me I’m beautiful. So in my mind, I wanted to tone up, get healthy and be a happier me! But when I decided to commit to this, I had NO IDEA that the results would be what they were. I’ve said before that I have an abnormal amount of self esteem, but now….FUGETABOUTIT! I’m elated with my results and my new body!

So let me first break it down a bit since I think it would be helpful for anyone thinking about improving their health and body to know exactly what you’re in for.

As I said before, the first week of the cleanse was the most physically challenging for me. I was eating so much over and over that the gag reflex kicked in early and a few of those meals I was literally choking down. Not because they tasted bad, but because I had eaten them the day before and the day before. So when you go into Week 1, know this and be prepared physically to eat…and I mean a lot of chewing too! You’ll know why when you purchase the Cleanse yourself.

Week 2 was better for me. It was less food. Still enough food, but not so much and a “special brew” that was really delightful for me. I’d say Week 2 was the easiest week. I had all my energy and then some and was not so bored with food. Plus the results at the end of Week 2 had me REVVED UP! I could see my body taking a different shape.

Week 3 was a completely different type of challenge. Mentally, Week 3 is killer. DON’T MISTAKE WHAT I’M SAYING….it is totally doable! Remember, I’m a foodie! I love to eat and I love food! However, mentally you have to get yourself around a lot in Week 3. I can’t give too much away about what I was eating, but suffice to say it was far less than what I normally eat. BUT…I wasn’t hungry. That was the most baffling thing for me. When I got hungry, there was a remedy and I was fine. But I was third party to a mind against body battle! My head was telling me something totally different from my body. Which I find very interesting…my mind needed to be retrained.

I continued through my workouts in Week 3. My awesome trainer, Anthony Ortiz, modified my workouts a bit to match my energy levels in Week 3, but as far as I’m concerned, we both did a great job! P.S. If you live in the Boston area and are interested in getting in better shape, you definitely need to get in touch with him. I did not do any yoga in Week 3. Partly because my new job made it tough to find time for workouts and yoga and partly because I do yoga in a 90 degree room, and I didn’t want to push it too much in that kind of heat. I probably would have been fine, but…it is what it is.

So how do I feel three weeks later? I feel happy, I feel healthy, I feel TERRIFIC! Seriously. My body feels, for lack of better word, cleansed. I actually feel healthier, my energy levels are high and my focus is much better. I’m thinking more clearly and I’m effin happy! So how’s that for results?

So what am I going to do now? Honestly, it’s a scary to be back to choosing my own food besides the fact that I’m ready to eat it. I know I need to change my eating a bit to keep my body feeling and looking this good. So what have I learned and how will I apply it? The first and most important thing is that motivation and determination always breed success! Period. No one will ever convince me otherwise. I have reached a goal I didn’t even know was possible. The other thing I’ve learned is that I’m not eating a proper breakfast. I always thought, for reasons unknown, that breakfast was supposed to be small. On average, I was consuming around 150 calorie breakfasts. I’m over that. I learned by doing that having your calories and carbs in the morning fuels you for your day. In addition to that, you burn those calories all day rather than right before you go to bed! I would not be telling you this if my body did not just prove the benefits of a proper breakfast. I realize this seems like common sense, but you ask 10 people what they eat for breakfast and I bet most people are either not eating enough or are choosing unhealthy breakfast foods.

So Mr. Pinkard, I believe you’ve got a winning, fail proof way to get healthy and bring your fitness to another level. I think you are undercharging for the product you have. (Just $19.99 on ) Here’s my problem with your system. After the 3 weeks, I have a new and improved body and a new attitude, but no idea why it worked. I don’t know what foods are doing what to my body and why. I don’t really know the concept behind it, which would allow me to carry on in my regular life. So my challenge to you Bryen Pinkard, is to charge an extra $5.00 and give your customers an explanation of what the foods are doing for them and why. Tell us how to continue in our lives and help create a cult of people dedicated to getting and STAYING in top shape and health!

So back to me! It’s confidence, not cockiness! I weighed in at the end of 21 days at 108 pounds. My body fat percentage came in at 20.3 and my body mass index at 20.5. If you remember from my first blog, I weighed 117 with a body fat percentage of 24.2 and a body mass index of 22.1. Let me do this math for you. That comes out to:

Weight loss:          9 pounds
Body fat loss:        3.9%
BMI reduction:     1.6

HELLO! I lost almost 4% of my body fat in THREE WEEKS!

So here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. Before & After Pics. Click on them for bigger images. You’ll notice my change in sports bra. This is because the white one is now so big it completely defeats the purpose of a SPORTS bra!

Before Front

After Front

Before Back

After Back

Before Side

After Side

So thank you to everyone who supported me through this. Josh my husband, who supported me through the challenges and was my personal cheerleader. Bryen, for coming up with this amazing tool that I’ll use for the rest of my life. Anthony Ortiz, who pushed me physically to be my best even when I whole-heartedly resisted! And thanks to everyone who gave me encouraging words. If you plan to do this cleanse, get yourself a support system in place…IT JUST WORKS!

I’m happy as a clam and why shouldn’t I be?

And good luck to all you future 21 Day Cleansers! If you’re not sold by now, you never will be!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cleanse Day 15

I’m on my way to the seamstress I normally avoid like the plague due to her constant yelling at me with regards to my desired pant length! You’re probably asking yourself why I would willingly do this to myself. Two weeks and one day ago I bought a gorgeous lace teal dress for the holiday party I’m attending on December 17. Today it does not fit!

I have just completed Week Two and I’m totally fired up. I weighed myself this morning and I’m down 8 pounds total weighing in at a whopping 109! Today I am celebrating this figure. Partly because it’s a total loss of 2 pounds for the week and not quite as daunting as the 6 I lost last week!

There have been some major challenges this week. You may not know this about me, but I’m pretty social. Typically that presents itself as drinks or dinner out with friends or drinks and some kind of activity. Drinks and dinner is really no longer an option, so last Saturday I was dying to get out of the house. I suggested bowling at this fabulous candlepin bowling alley that also makes terrific flatbread pizza. I looked at their menu and they had a raw veggie salad that I could eat. Josh and I invited our friend Ray and it was done and done. We get there and take a seat at the bar. Josh has a beer, I have a water. Josh orders a pizza, I order a salad. Mentally I’m fine until the point that Josh leans over and proceeds to moan and tell me how delicious his pizza is! Oooooook well that sucked! But I didn’t give in knowing that I was going to have some fun as soon as we got to the bowling! And it was fine. Then on Monday I started my new job with the American Cancer Society. They all wanted to take me out to lunch and what a sweet gesture: I could not turn them down. So I thought about it and had a raw salad even though that was supposed to be my dinner. I ended up just having the lunch food for dinner. Then on Friday my office had their holiday party. They had Chinese food and a cookie swap. I had my regularly scheduled lunch. But since I work with the most fabulous people they were very supportive and inquired about the cleanse. Which was super helpful and I consider myself lucky to have been in their company circumstances as they were! I did partake in the cookie swap, but I just bundled my cookies up real tight and I’ll have a few of them post-cleanse!

That brings us to today. Three days this week I added a piece of whole wheat toast and Teddie unsalted peanut butter because I was so worried about the extreme weight loss from the first week. So when I woke up this morning, I fully expected to have gained a pound or two despite the fact that I’m feeling trimmer. Well friends, I was wrong wrong wrong wrong! I had lost two, as mentioned earlier. The results are now what is keeping me motivated and I think Week Three is going to be a BREEEEEEEZE! On the cleanse document, Bryen mentions that week three is the hardest, but in my case I think he’s going to be wrong here! I’m pumped! 

So lets talk about my workouts. I’m still working out as scheduled. And in my workout this morning, I maxed out at 145 pounds in my deadlift. In case you are not great at math, that’s well over 100% of my body weight! I’m getting stronger. Now, part of this has to be attributed to my trainer and his hard work getting me here. But I think my body just feels so great that it’s allowing me to really push myself physically in the gym!

Here’s the other new and most exciting part of this for me! My back fat is gone (in appearance, I have not measured it)! For whatever reason I carry a lot of my body fat in my back, you know where I’m talking ladies. Right where your bra wraps around you! I used to be so embarrassed and self-conscious about this part of my body. I have an abnormal amount of self-esteem, but this was always something challenging for me! Well bye bye back fat! And hello new attitude! I promise to be the sweet and kind person I always was, but there’s definitely a little hitch in my giddy-up!

Well that’s about it! Bring it Week 3!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cleanse Day 7

Welcome back beloved readers to Diary of A Girl on the 21 Day Cleanse! I have just completed DAY 7 and I’m feeling incredible! I have stuck loyally to the cleanse as instructed with a little mustard or salsa (just a teeny bit for taste)! As you know from my last blog entry, I’m tired of eating the same thing. Now, to Bryen Pinkard’s credit, I understand that 21 days of exciting menus is not only difficult but slightly contrary to the point. So I’m taking it in stride, as I typically don’t even eat leftovers the next day, but wait a day to do so!

I have also been loyal to my workout routine. Training regularly with my trainer, doing yoga and I’m doing some cardio on my own on the off/yoga days. Jump roping mostly because I’ve sworn off the BSC and anyway I can jump rope right in my own apartment! Imagine the horror of the neighbors below! Luckily because of all the box jumps I’ve been forced to do since commencing training with a professional, I know how to land like a cat!!

In my first week I noticed some major changes in my life! The first thing would be the way I feel. Unfortunately, its difficult to describe, but generally I feel energized, healthy and I’m not getting hungry! That is the most amazing thing to me. I’m eating the proper calories, according to Bryen, but because the foods are “whole” and therefore, more satisfying. I’m even having to remind myself that its time to eat!

The other thing I’m noticing is my energy levels and ability to continue with my workouts. Initially, I assumed I’d be too tired to carry on as normal. However, I’m doing fine. In fact, in my session yesterday morning it appeared that I am stronger and more focused. I attribute this to breakfast! In the past I would have a greek yogurt and some granola for breakfast. I am now having a much more complete breakfast and apparently it’s giving me the energy I need to perform during my workouts. Who would have thought my trainer and friend (who is also a trainer is Cali) would be right when preaching to me to eat more breakfast! Give me a break! I’m a Spencer, stubbornness runs in my family!

I will say I’m glad to be done with week one. I’m tired of the food and actually looking forward to next week’s schedule. Mostly b/c there’s a variation on breakfast and my favorite thing from week 1’s breakfast is now part of my lunch!

As far as body image goes I’m feeling trimmer and Josh, my husband, is noticing a difference just looking at me. Which is really saying something since he sees me everyday! And regardless of how interested you are in getting healthier, there’s no motivation like seeing your body get sexier!

So I weighed in this morning and I came in at 111 pounds. This is a total of 6 pounds for week one. This is absolutely an incredible result. However, my first reaction was to be a bit concerned that I’m losing more weight than I want to. I have to believe that my body is going to stop losing weight when it needs to, but 111 is one pound less that my original trainer suggested I should weigh. Funny thing is, at that time I weighed 128 pounds and I laughed at him! 

I'm thinking about adding a piece of wheat toast with natural peanut butter to my breakfast a few times this week to add some healthy calories. We'll see, I'll let ya know!