Kelsey Creates a New Lifestyle: New Year, New Beginnings

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Hello friends, Happy January.  I have to apologize for my lack of recipe sharing – I have a few reasons for that.  To be completely honest, I’ve been avoiding you.  Why? Well. Do you ever feel completely and incredibly overwhelmed?  Like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what you need to do, while still been able to do what you want to do?  Before Christmas I was seriously doubting whether or not I would make it through the holidays.  With school on top of working 40 hours a week plus trying to get all my baking/shopping/meal preparing/party-planning/all-the-unnecessary-holiday-stresses-we-put-on-ourselves-every-year stuff, I got tired, I took on too much, neglected myself and didn’t take anytime to relax – I didn’t take any me time.  I was exhausted, stressed and grumpy.  I won’t lie – there were a few times that I cried a little.  Any I know, I was being crazy – I know this due to the look on my poor boyfriend’s face after I burst into tears while putting up Christmas lights because half of them were burned out.  I’m talking major crocodile tears, a little sobbing – it was all very dramatic.  Perhaps it was because I was under so much pressure with studying for my upcoming finals, that I felt my head was going to pop off, or because I’m a perfectionist and things, well, weren’t perfect, or maybe it was even because as an only child, I like things to go my way and have a tendency to have a temper tantrum when they don’t.  Either way, I was a complete basket case and needed to find a way to figure my shit out – for my own good, and everyone else’s.  I was a stress ball, a stress-y McStresserton, a flipping grump.  It’s like I ate a big giant batch of frownies (I wish I could take credit for that last one).

SO one morning, after Christmas and after about ten people’s worth of food in just a few short days, I was laying in bed – and I had an epiphany.  Okay, not really… I had this epiphany a long time ago, I just refused to realize it until now.  Let’s jump back a little bit.  When I was young… I was a little chubby.  And, by chubby, I mean I was really overweight.  My mother (god bless her soul) called it baby fat and told me I was big boned.  And, I believed her for a very long time.  I believed that, in time, I would be a normal sized little girl, just like my other classmates, and that my size had nothing to do with the bags of Doritoz or Ice Cream Sandwiches that I would devour on a regular basis, or the high sugar fruit punch I was obsessed with, or…any of the other sugar packed, high fructose corn syrup infused boxes of pre-packaged poison that I ingested every single day.  I was young, I didn’t know any better, and honestly, neither did my mom.

I’ve struggled with my weight all my life.  I’m a yo-yo dieter.  A diet whore.  I have been around my friends, like REALLY been around, I have tried them all and let me tell you, they all failed.  I will calorically starve my body, and then binge on whatever form of sustenance is in my kitchen – from stale pita bread to half a brick of cheese.  I’m a stress eater, a food lover and, well as my blog indicates, I love everything that has to do with cake batter, icing sugar and sprinkles.  I am always looking for a quick way to lose weight – but I’ve never actually said, hey, why don’t I cut the crap and make a commitment to be healthy instead of trying every fad diet I can get for free on the internet.  And when I say failed, I don’t mean I didn’t lose weight, of course I lost weight you silly geese I was likely consuming under 1000 calories a day, drinking my college freshman face off, AND (dare I say it) controlling my appetite by smoking cigarettes (don’t worry friends, I kicked that nasty habit 1 year and 5 months ago).  But of course, I would also yo-yo on right back up to an uncomfortable weight because, after a while, I just didn’t feel like depriving myself of all the yummy treats I was missing out on (and like… you know, real food, not plain cottage cheese and cucumber pita sandwiches).

In the past two years I have not bothered to make a serious effort to live a healthy lifestyle, and in all honesty it’s making me tired, and sick, and fat, and I hate it.  I don’t feel like me.  Every year I make a new years resolution to get skinny, well this year I want to get healthy.

A few confessions:
1. I don’t like it when people tell me that I don’t need to lose weight because I am skinny enough – I have gained 20 pounds in the last year and a half and I get winded walking up a flight of stairs… if that’s not the picture of health I don’t know what is.

2. I love everything deep fried and everything sugar packed, I just don’t like how I feel after eating it.

3. I have never committed to a fitness plan for more than a month (and in that month I am likely not consistent), because, like, I hate sweating n’ stuff.

4. I hate meat in my salads.  Try me – I will attempt them all.  But in the end, chicken, or beef, or some form of meat on my wonderfully leafy and fresh greens? Heck no.

5. I am a Monday diet starter and a procrastinator.  I like excuses, especially if that excuse allows me to skip a workout.

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Promises I am making to myself (and my readers!)
1. I promise I will not turn this in to a crazy, body building health nut blog – I mean, I’m committed but not THAT committed.  Like, I’d kill for six pack but I won’t give up carbs or try to suffocate my sweet tooth.

2. I promise not to whine, pout or complain about having to go to the gym instead of playing Xbox, or skipping dessert… well, I’ll try.

3. I promise to fill your life with salads, leafy greens, healthy snacks, skinny treats and homemade everything.

4. I promise to search high and low for healthy pizza crust, sugar free muffins, and low calorie cupcakes.

5. I promise this will be fun – not boring, bland or depressing. This will be an adventure.  Kelsey’s super cool healthy food search adventure! Orrrrr Kelsey’s wicked awesome adventure of incredibly tasty and nutritious food! Pick one.. it’ll grow on you.

I was on a three week blogging hiatus – and for that, I’m sorry, but I needed to, like I mentioned earlier, figure out my shit, and decide what was important to me.  I wasn’t making myself, or my health a priority, and I feel awful.  Eat like shit feel like shit.  You are what you eat. “Insert healthy eating quote here.”

It’s on like DONKEY KONG!

Chicken Fajitas with Homemade Flour Tortillas

It’s Monday (BOOO!!!). My least favourite day of the week.  I don’t mean to make this post a whiny one, but I can’t help but be grumpy on Mondays.  I always wake up extra tired and I avoid all conversation until I get at least one cup of coffee in.  Luckily, thanks to my current career choice as an administrative assistant, I rarely have to commit to any type of conversation before 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, and based on the reactions of my co-workers, I’m sure they don’t care either way.  My job has it’s ups and downs.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to like my job (when it’s so slow that I feel I have to create work for myself….it’s brutal and super boring), but other times I love my job (when it’s so busy that I barely have time to sit for lunch), either way, it’s a pretty good place to work and I get to work alongside a bunch of really great people.  Another great part about my job is that I get to be a part of my office’s social committee, meaning I get to plan a lot of really great events, such as the Friday afternoon beer tasting with our local brewery Stack Brewing.  It was tones of fun and we got to try four of their wonderful (and preservative free) beer.  As an organizer, I got to take home one full unopened beer, which given their large bottles was the equivalent of almost three beers, as well as any opened beers (I picked up an almost full bottle of a very dark been that I thought my boyfriend would really like).

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Ken and I spent most of our weekend at home.  I’ve been increasingly finding myself huddled up on my couch as the colder weather is starting to set in.  It was a rainy, gloomy weekend so I pretty well hibernated.  Weekends are often when I will make any new recipes, and despite my hibernation, I did attempt one new real food recipe that I would like to share.  Chicken Fajitas with Homemade Flour Tortillas.  I got the fajita recipe from Pamela Salzman and the Flour Tortilla Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food.  I was VERY happy with how everything turned out, and was pretty proud of my self for successfully making flour tortillas with only 3 ingredients (it was easy-ish, getting the tortilla shape was the biggest challenge, and some of my tortillas were…well let’s just say there were other shapes aside from circles).

The first step was to make the marinade for the Chicken:

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small chunks

Mix all ingredients together in a non-reactive container (like glass).  Add chicken, cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Since I’m barbecue-less, I opted to cook my chicken in a skillet.  Cooke the chicken for a few minutes on each side on medium heat, then cover to ensure the chicken cooks through.  I let the chicken cook on medium for about eight minutes.

Once the chicken was done, I placed it in the over at about 200F degrees to keep it warm.  Then, I moved on to the Flour Tortillas.

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Homemade Flour Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water (heat in the microwave for 1 min)

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer set with a dough hook, pour in the flour, oil and salt. Beat until crumbly, about 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the sides as needed.
  2. With the mixer running, gradually add the warm water and continue mixing until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Take out the dough and divide it into 12 equal sized pieces. You can do this by making the dough into a big log shape that is about 8 – 10 inches long. Then cut it in the middle and then  each of those pieces in the middle and so on until you have 12 pieces.  I found this part difficult as the dough was really sticky.  So I added a lot of flour on my counter and hands in order to divide the dough.
  4. Using the palms of your hand roll each piece into a round ball and flatten it out on a baking tray or board. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes or up to one hour.
  5. Heat a skillet over med-high heat. The pan should be fairly hot before you begin cooking the tortillas.
  6. On a lightly floured board or counter top, use a rolling pin to turn each ball into a 8 to 10 inch flat circle (measure against your recipe if printed on a 8.5X11 sheet of paper). Be careful not to use more than a teaspoon or two of flour when rolling out each ball into a tortilla because too much excess flour will burn in the pan.  I don’t think I actually ever got any of my balls of dough this big. they were still a little sticky and I wasn’t able to roll them out this big, but I averaged about 6 inches.
  7. Grease the pan with a touch of oil and then carefully transfer each tortilla, one at a time, to the pan and cook until puffy and slightly brown, about 30 to 45 seconds per side.  Use very little oil as it will be absorbed into the tortilla.  Set aside on a plate to cool slightly. Eat within an hour, refrigerate or freeze

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While the tortillas were sitting for their 15 minutes, I sauteed some sliced red peppers, onion, mushrooms, and jalapenos in a skillet with a little bit of oil.  I also made some homemade guacamole by crushing up an avocado and adding some lime juice and fresh cilantro into a bowl.  Along with the Sauteed veggies and guacamole, I served the Fajitas with fresh spinach, some hot sauce, and then topped it off with shredded cheese.

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The fajitas were amazing.  I think Ken and I will be doing this once a week for sure.  It doesn’t take much time and the result is extremely satisfying. I’m actually pretty proud of myself for making the flour tortillas.  They tasted really really really good and only about a half hour of my time from start to finish.  So, try it! It’s fantastic! Happy Baking.

Healthy Seven Bean Chili

104Hello! Happy Hump Day! I had a fantastic vacation.  It was literally a week of swimming, laying in the sun, snuggling, saunas, and…you guesses it… EATING. Why is it that camping and vacations so often revolve around food? They always do for me. It’s like all my inhibitions go out the window and I’m like, yes, let’s buy those super duper high calorie burgers, and that extra rack of ribs with the super delicious but salty sauce, oh and chips? well yes we NEVER buy these, but let’s get four bags and eat them all. Yikes. That was my week in a nut shell, and while I have no regrets, because I enjoyed every bite of that burger and every rib from that rack, it’s September, Summer is over and it’s time to start eating clean again…to an extent of course. I vow to make as many healthy bakes as humanly possible, but I found some pretty tasty recipes over the last few months and I will eventually have to make them, and they are NOT diet friendly. Oh well, I gotta live a little, right?  I officially started eating clean yesterday, and while I know I will have a little extra treat here and there, I have to stick to it.  I’m going to a wedding in the Dominican in May – huge motivator – and I also have a wedding in April, and one in September (assuming I’m invited to both my cousin’s wedding…which I mean, come on, I will be…).  So, my goal is to lose 32 pounds by Christmas Eve (that’s only 2 pounds a week) by eating clean and increasing my physical activity. I am PUMPED and after one day I am already feeling fantastic.

September means that Summer is pretty well over. Not like we had much of a Summer this year anyway.  It was quite cold aside from a few major heat waves.  But i’m fine with it.  I prefer the slightly cooler weather and I love, love LOVE fall. It’s my favourite season.  I love the fashion, the cool weather, the pretty leaves, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and, yes, the cooking.  Fall bakes are fun.  They are filled with pumpkin spice and cinnamon, apples and brown sugar, cranberries even.  But the cooking is great.  When I think fall, I think comfort. I think soup, and stew, and chili.
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So this recipe I’m sharing today is one that I received from a friend.  I believe this was borrowed from The Eat-Clean Diet, and you can find the original recipe here.  I am all about finding healthy, easy recipes. This one takes the cake.  So the biggest difference between my recipe and the one from the Eat Clean Diet, is that I used beef rather than turkey.  To me, chili means ground beef, not ground turkey.  Yes, you may use turkey. It will definitely cut the fat, but I really do not enjoy the taste of ground turkey, so I opted for the beef.  I upped the amount of onion, using an entire white onion rather than the 1/2 cup.  I omitted the salt and added a tbsp of red pepper flakes rather than the optional adobo sauce.  I love spicy, so sometimes I add more depending on my mood.  I often even omit the red pepper flakes altogether, especially if I am cooking for someone who does not or cannot eat spicy food.  In that case I’ll just top mine with little hot sauce.  One other thing I associate with fall? Slow cookers. I love mine.  It makes things super easy and taste amazing.  The original recipe is cooked stove top, but to me, Chili means a slow cooker.  So, its simple.  Brown Beef. Add to slow cooker.  Add rest of ingredients to slow cooker in no particular order.  Turn on slow cooker and cook for 10 hours on low. Bam. Done. I often eat this topped with a little cheese, and then make myself some homemade garlic toast as a side. There’s two easy ways you can do this: 1. mix 2 tsp. of margarine with garlic powder and dried basil flakes, butter bread of your choice (I use Ezekial Bread) on both sides, then broil until toasted, flip and toast other side, done; or 2. Butter your bread on both sides (i mix basil into the margarine), broil both sides until almost done, and then remove from oven, cut a garlic glove in half, and then rub the toast with the clove.  The second option makes for a less garlicy flavour, but still just as good.

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This chili has seven different types of beans! All protein packed and full of fiber.  Each batch contains bunches of black beans, chickpeas, dark red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, white kidney beans, romano beans and baby lima beans.  This recipe serves about 10, and is approximately 400 calories per serving.  A nice filling supper, full of protein and very little salt.  Again, if you want to cut calories, by using 2.5 lbs of turkey, you are cutting your calories in half.  The ezekial bread and margarine is about another 115 calories. Considering how light my breakfast and lunch are I enjoy having a hearty dinner. Yummy.

Healthy Seven Bean Chili

Serves 10. 400 calories per serving.

Ingedients

  • 2.5 lbs. (40 oz) extra lean ground beef or 2.5 lbs of ground turkey for a lower calorie option
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 – 4 oz. cans of diced green chilies
  • 1 – 15 oz. can Six Bean Medley (low sodium), drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 15 oz. can Black Beans (low sodium), drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 28 oz. can Diced Tomatoes (low sodium) do not drain
  • 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar Blend (from Splenda or Stevia)
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder (I used 2 tsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. regular yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. dried or fresh cilantro

Cooking Instructions

  1. Brown beef in a skillet on medium heat.  Drain all excess fat.
  2. Add all ingredients, including browned beef, into your slow cooker.  With a large stirring spoon, mix all ingredients together.
  3. Once all ingredients are well mixed, turn slow cooker to low and cook for 10 hours.  Serve hot and sprinkle with cheese if desired.

Pretty simple right? I am open to suggestions if anyone has any other great skinny slow cooker recipes. I am DYING to try more.  Next week’s healthy bake will be really really really good.  I have it narrowed down between two recipes: one involves chocolate and peanut butter, and the other involves raspberries and cheesecake.  I’m a total sucker for cheesecake, but there’s just something amazing about chocolate and peanut butter….it’s like they belong together. Anyways I hope you enjoyed this recipe. Remember to check out the Eat Clean Diet for more healthy, clean recipes.  Happy Baking!