Roasted Greek-Style Chicken & Vegetables

Spring is all about rebirth. On Easter Sunday, I couldn’t help but think about fresh starts and changing some of my behaviors. Lately, I’ve been barely running and my diet has been off. With my own wedding quickly approaching this fall (!!!), I’ve got some weight to lose.

I decided that I need to get back into a grocery shopping and meal prep routine and that I’m going to make a new recipe (or one I haven’t made in a long time) each week. Let’s be honest- I’ve hit the Hy-Vee salad bar a bit too frequently and haven’t been cooking.

So what HAVE I been doing? Wedding planning and working. Between the two, there hasn’t been any much time for other things.

Yesterday,I decided to make a recipe that I saved from Weight Watchers a while back. I had ripped it out of one of the Weekly collateral pieces and saved it in my “recipe folder.”

While I had every intention to follow the recipe, I got home to realize I had purchased a cucumber instead of zucchini. Just my luck! So, I tossed in some green and red bell peppers and called it a day. It was delicious and so easy to make (small steps).

ChickenGreek-Style Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
4 servings, 4 SmartPoints/serving

Chicken breasts, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and zucchini are seasoned with fresh lemon, oregano, garlic and olive oil and then roasted all at once.

Ingredients
2 spray(s)cooking spray
5 tsp olive oil, extra virgin, divided
3 clove(s)garlic clove(s), chopped
1 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest, divided
1⁄2 tsp table salt, or to taste
1⁄4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
2 small uncooked zucchini, or 1 large, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cup(s)grape tomatoes, halved
14 oz canned artichoke hearts without oil, drained well and halved
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s)

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Coat a large nonstick baking pan with cooking spray.
Step 2
In a large bowl, combine 4 teaspoons oil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon zest, salt and pepper; add vegetables and toss to coat. Lift vegetables out of bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving some oil mixture in bowl. Place vegetables in an even layer on one side of prepared pan, leaving room for chicken. Add chicken to bowl and turn to coat; place on empty side of pan.
Step 3
Roast until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, stirring vegetables once, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drizzle vegetables with remaining 1 teaspoon each oil and zest; toss to coat. Drizzle chicken with any pan juices. Yields about 3 ounces chicken and 1 cup vegetables per serving.

Additionally, I’m trying to refresh my half-marathon training plan. I have three half-marathons coming up and with only a few longer run under my belt, I’ve got some work to do. I’ve been dreading just about every run lately and hating it more with every stride.

Remember when I use to crave a long run? Remember when those runs were my alone time and time to reflect? While I’m not feeling that way right now, I’m determined to force myself back into the swing of things.

I’ve got a great running community near where I live and those group runs are the only thing getting me through. Yesterday was a start. 5 miles in the morning along with lifting and another 6 miles in the evening. I’ll do another 4-5 miles tonight and lift again and hopefully get a long run in tomorrow.

I’m determined to fuel my body correctly and get my mind and spirit back to a healthy place. Easter was just the fresh start I needed.

 

 

The long run that wasn’t meant to be

My alarm sounded at 4:30 this morning. I turned it off. Again, it went off at 4:45 AM… which meant it was time to get ready for my 23-miler in preparation for the Chicago Marathon. I crawled out of bed and went thorough my Saturday morning routine. Bathroom, wash face, brush teeth, change into the clothes I laid out the night before, deodorant, Body Glide, fix the rats nest (my hair) and grab a yogurt with fruit. It’s nearly the same routine every Saturday during training season.

This morning did feel a little different though. Besides starting in the dark, I was sore all over from my Thursday night at the gym. RIPPED and yoga gave me more of a workout than I realized at the time. Arms, chest, quads, and glutes were all on fire!

Mentally, I had prepared and was ready to rock. At 7 miles I began to feel pain in my foot. Plantar WON’T GO AWAY. At 10 miles it was very painful and at 11 miles, it was apparent that 23 miles wasn’t in my future. I began overcompensating and started to feel the pain in my hip from the awkward run/limp thing I was doing just to get by.

At 12 miles I was back home and got a pep talk from my running partner. It sucks! Logically, I knew it was time to quit instead of force injury upon myself but I wanted that last long run more than you know. For some reason, training this go around has seemed difficult and I just wanted to kill this 23-miler. Ugh.

The good news is that really, the rest of my training has been on track and I have a massage scheduled for tomorrow. I have complete confidence that with Carrie’s help and  a little rest, I’ll be ready for race day. I am, however, second guessing my sub 4-hour marathon goal. I want it- BAD. I may have to incorporate some additional speed work after Chicago and shoot for sub-4 in Memphis this December, instead.

Why does it feel like I HAVE to PR? Why can’t I just go to Chicago, have a heck of a time with my bestie, and be PROUD for finishing another marathon?! Anymore, it doesn’t seem like finishing is enough. I need to work on my mindset. That’s the real goal for the next three weeks leading up to Chicago.

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you… (ok, honestly, it’s been a while since I cooked something other than popcorn for dinner). So I thought I’d do just that. I knew I’d be at the gym late on Thursday and it’s never fun to have to find something at 8:30 PM so I decided to break out my CrockPot. I threw these items (below) in along with some seasonings and BINGO- dinner.

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A close up of some of the items I used.

salsachicken

I put this “salsa chicken” as I like to call it over rice on Thursday, ate it plain on Friday and will have it on a salad probably tomorrow. For those of you that follow Weight Watchers- all of these items are Simply Filling!

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Yummy in my tummy: salsa chicken on brown rice

Yummy in my tummy: salsa chicken on brown rice

Baked Apple Breakfast Deliciousness

Baked apple, oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt= the best breakfast ever (besides pancakes–they are still my favorite). My boyfriend watched Bobby Flay make this on the Food Network and surprised me by making breakfast. Though, it wasn’t too much of a surprise because he told me he needed to buy Greek yogurt while we were at the store… those who know my bf, know that it does not under any circumstance eat yogurt so I knew something was up. He even made it healthier (and easier) than the original- gosh, he’s getting good at this. I have a rule about the number of ingredients a recipe can have– too many, and I become uninterested so we’ve cut a few things– don’t worry it’s still delicious.

Baked Apple

Makes 1 baked apple

Ingredients:
1 Gala or Fuji apple, bottom sliced so it stands upright
1/8 cup apple cider/juice
Few squirts spray butter
Ground cinnamon and sugar substitute
1/2 cup quick oatmeal prepared (I use Weight Watchers Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal.)
Low-fat Greek yogurt (I highly recommend the Yoplait Greek 100 Apple Pie)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the top third off each apple and carve a large “bowl” including the core. Place in baking pan. Pour the apple cider over the apple. Add a few squirts of spray butter, cinnamon and sugar substitute. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Place apple on platter and add prepared oatmeal to the center of the apple. Add a dollop of the Greek yogurt and if you want to make it look pretty, a raspberry and blueberry will do it! A drizzle of sugar-free caramel would do the trick too!

I figured this to be about 3PPV, for one apple for those of you who do WW.

The apples make a great breakfast or dessert!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

I haven’t had acorn squash since I was a kid (and HATED it) so I decided to give it another try after finding this recipe from EmilyBites. She describes it as tasting like fall and it totally does. It’s a great mix of autumn flavors and I’ll totally be making it again in the near future! Apples, squash, celery, and turkey sausage–does it get any better?! I think not!

AcornSquash

Check out Emily’s photos here. Her photos look so much better!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Source: EmilyBites

Ingredients:
1 acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon light butter, melted
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon rubbed (or ground) sage, divided
4 oz turkey or chicken sausage, removed from casing
¼ cup chopped onion
½ a celery rib, finely chopped
2 oz mushrooms, chopped
½ cup peeled and chopped apple
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large egg white, beaten

Directions:
1.    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the squash halves cut side up on the baking sheet. In a small dish, combine the melted butter, minced garlic and 1/8 teaspoon of the rubbed sage. Using a silicone pastry brush, brush the butter mixture onto the inside and outside of each squash half. Roast in the oven for 50-60 minutes until tender.
2.    Bring a large skillet over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook, breaking up with a spoon, until meat is cooked through. Remove meat to a mixing bowl and place the pan back on the burner. Add the onion, celery and mushrooms to the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the apples and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn off the burner and add the onion mixture to the sausage in the mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of sage, the panko crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the egg white and stir until well combined.
3.    When the squash halves are finished roasting, evenly pile the sausage stuffing into the two halves. Return to the oven and cook for an additional 18-20 minutes.

Yields 2 servings. WW P+:  9 per serving (P+ calculated using the recipe builder on weightwatchers.com)
Nutrition Information per ½ cup serving from myfitnesspal.com: 292 calories, 39 g carbs, 9 g fat, 16 g protein, 6 g fiber

Sausage, Kale and Tortellini Soup

Fall is here! Saturday after my long run, it was rainy and dreary so I decided to try a new soup recipe and it was FABULOUS!

It was hearty, delicious and nutritious!

Tortellini SoupSausage, Kale & Tortellini Soup
Leave the vegetables a little chunkier than I usually would for this stew since it cooks for a while. Otherwise, you are left with mushy vegetables.

Ingredients:
2 onions
3-4 (or more) cloves garlic minced
1 lb Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey
Crushed red pepper flakes
4-5 large carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 (or more) large zucchini, cut into slices or bite-sized pieces
1 can diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 can tomato sauce
Fresh basil
Fresh oregano (this is a MUST)
1 box chicken stock
1 box beef stock
3 cups water
1 package dried cheese tortellini
1 bag kale or 1-2 bunches

Instructions: In a dutch oven, cook the sausage until browned. Drain/rinse and take the sausage out of the pan. Add in the onions and red pepper flakes. Cook until they are pretty soft (several minutes) and add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, cooked sausage and broth – season with a healthy amount of salt and black pepper. Add in the fresh basil and oregano. Simmer for a bit (maybe 10-15 minutes) and then add in the zucchini and the package of tortellini and enough chicken stock, beef stock and water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tortellini is about done. Add kale and simmer a few more minutes.

Makes around 12– 1.5 cup servings. 4 PP+/serving

Tortellini Soup

I separated out half of the batch before adding the tortellini. I froze half with out the tortellini so I can add it in later on. (Though it was delicious, I didn’t feel like eating soup for weeks.) I even took a large container to my boyfriend (the non-soup eater) to try and he loved it!

Finding I like fish

I’ve hated fish since I was kid. Tuna and shrimp were on the OK list. Let me tell you, growing up Catholic, Lent was rough! I’ve always liked my mom’s tuna and noodles so that’s what I lived off of during Lent (along with mac and cheese and occasional accidental meat). This year, I made it through Lent with the discovery of sushi. Recently, I tried fish tacos for the first time and fell in love. Since then I’ve been ordering other types of fish: tilapia, seared ahi, and salmon.

This week I decided to cook some tilapia. I don’t like fishy tasting fish so I decided to marinate it with a Weber’s seasoning. I tried the Citrus Herb first, which was my favorite. You just mix in a 1/2 cup of orange juice with the seasoning and let the fish marinate in it for a few hours or over night. This one would be awesome on shrimp!

I liked it so much, I decided to try another one. I also tried the Lemon Pepper one this week but didn’t like it as well.

Lemon Pepper Tilapia & Brussels Sprouts

Lemon Pepper Tilapia & Brussels Sprouts

If you haven’t tried the Weber’s Seasonings, I’d recommend them! I’ll keep you updated as I explore more fish options. If you have a favorite way to prepare fish or a recipe you’d like to share, please do!!

Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers and onions always sound good this time of year so I finally made some and threw in some tomatoes, too! Super yummy and perfect for a dinner side dish or potluck.

cucumber-salad

Ingredients
2 cucumbers, diced
Cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
6 green onions, diced
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons Equal (or other sugar substitute)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions
Combine all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 7 days.