Recipe: Grilled Chicken Wrap with Homemade Honey Mustard Sauce

Last weekend we bought a bag of avocados and while I am all for eating half an avocado with a meal, I’ve also wanted to find some new recipes. I found a number that looked intriguing, but many were salads. I’m not anti-salad, I freaking love salad, but I also really love sandwiches and this seemed like the perfect summer dinner.

This idea is a combination of a few sandwiches I came across. I picked what I liked from each and married what I thought would pair well together: bacon, avocado, honey mustard, grilled chicken.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • dash of salt
  • 8 ounces of chicken breast
  • Sliced avocado
  • Sliced tomato
  • Slice of bacon (I used peppered bacon)
  • Joseph’s lavish bread or Flatout wraps

Directions:  Honey Mustard

1. In a small bowl combine stone ground mustard and honey.

2. Add lime juice a quarter tablespoon at a time. I ended up using about a tablespoon, but it’ll depend on your tastes.

3. Add a splash of red vinegar and a dash of salt.

4. Set aside to cook bacon and chicken.

Directions: Baked Bacon

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut bacon strips in half with kitchen scissors then place on a baking sheet. You can use a standard sheet for cooking or a sheet that has a wire rack set inside. Either would be fine.

3. Bake bacon for 7 to 10 minutes or until desired crispness.

4. Remove bacon from baking sheet and place on a plate with paper toweling to remove any excess grease.

*Let baking sheet cool down before removing grease. The grease will solidify and you can easily wipe it up with a paper towel.

Directions: Grilled Chicken

1. Trim excess fat off and season if desired, I left the chicken plain.

2. Grill chicken until fully cooked, then cut into strips/slices. I grilled it on a George Foreman because it was raining – this took only a few minutes. I would suggest avoiding charring the chicken because that will change the taste.

Directions: Plating 

In the middle of a lavish bread, make a layer of sliced avocado and sliced tomato. Then place grilled chicken breast in the middle of the first layer. Top with honey mustard sauce and roll up.

Depending on the wraps you use, adding lettuce and onion could be really good with this wrap. If you’re going to add onion, consider the taste – a red onion may be more bold than a yellow onion, which is more sweet.

 

IMG_7399IMG_7401IMG_7402

 

 

Advertisements

Recipe: Paleo-ish Zucchini Bread

I feel like many people who utilize Pinterest and other platforms to get inspiration for recipes there will never truly be enough days to have time to make them all. As someone who also appreciates fitness and living a healthy lifestyle, it can also be hard to find a way to balance the competing ideas.

Two stories.

Years ago, I tried paleo. There were things I liked: bacon, learning that food is fuel, flexibility with healthy fats. There were also things I didn’t like: no peanut butter, no grains, expensive (at least for me).

I bought a few books and cookbooks so I didn’t dive in blindly. I picked up a few books that were targeted for kids because I figured that would be a good place to start. I also got a fancy paleo dessert book and sadly I haven’t made anything from it – some of the ingredients aren’t your everyday ingredient and I need to order them. It’s an investment for some of them as well. I followed a few blogs and observed how people adapted. I’ve been following PaleOMG for about six years now and it seems like it was so much longer ago than it was.

When I found her she was much more strict with paleo, but she calls herself paleo-ish, which is something that I appreciate because I love food and while I did try this style of eating years ago – I’ve learn that nutritional protocols that call for unnecessarily elimination don’t do me any good.

Anyway, I love her recipes and have dabbled with a few. I’ve kept some paleo and I’ve changed up some ingredients. Like, are you really a foodie or cook if you don’t fuck around with the recipe?

For her original recipe click here.

But what really inspired me to make this recipe is the CrossFit Games. CrossFit leaves me torn.

I’m not sure I like the idea of doing a WOD. There’s a time and place for being told what to do and with the program I just completed I felt I was able to make some changes if energy or mindset wasn’t where I thought it should be.

I do however, love some of the lifts and the fire in these athletes. Like, some of these women are just bust deadlifts three times their bodyweight. THAT’S NUTS. 

So while I don’t want to start CrossFit I do following a few YouTubers and blogs of those who do CrossFit as well as powerlifters. It’s just a different kind of mindset towards working out and raising the bar on what you’re capabilities.

Want to be mind blown? Google some of these names:

  • Lea Malo
  • Sara Sigmundsdottir
  • Laura Horvath

One of the I was watching followed around Mat Fraser – he’s the “fittest man on Earth” – two years in a row. He’s competing this year again in the CrossFit games with the hopes to take the title again. His girlfriend, Sammy, cooks for him and in the video they captured footage of her cooking and taking photos of the food. They showed her cooking Instagram, which is public, called Feeding The Frasers. This led me to the Facebook page by the same name where she reshares those photos of food and recipes.

She gave me the push for the zucchini bread. She took PaleOMG’s recipe and made a change – almond flour instead of coconut flour.

I made two changes – peanut butter instead of sunflower butter and decreased honey.

What You’ll Need

1 medium zucchini, shredded (equal to 1.5 cups shredded zucchini)

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter*
  • 1/4 cup honey*
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons Almond flour*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • baking pan
  • parchment paper
  • cheesecloth

*Original recipe called for sunflower butter, peanut butter has a similar consistency. Just be mindful that almond butter may bake a bit different because of the consistency.

*I used less honey because while I do love my sweets, I always try to see if I can get away with decreasing sugar content. I thought it was perfectly sweet with a little less honey.

*The original recipe called for coconut flour, and the

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.Peel and shred zucchini into a bowl covered with a cheesecloth. Gather up the cheesecloth and tightly twist it closed. You want to squeeze as much water out as possible. In the original recipe, she used paper towels, however, I find cheesecloth to be a lot easier to work with and you get less waste.

 

IMG_7322
IMG_7330

IMG_7332.JPG

3. Once you’ve drained as much water out as possible, discard liquid and pour shredded zucchini back into the bowl.

4. Add all other ingredients to the bowl and mix well.

IMG_7342.JPG

IMG_7350

IMG_7355

5. Place a large piece of parchment in a standard bread pan. I prefer this because the bread is going to be moist and can be hard to get out of the pan without falling apart.

IMG_7356

6. Pour batter into pan and bake. Keep an eye on your oven. The original recipe said to bake it for between 20-25 minutes, so I set a timer for 20 minutes to check on it. I set two additional 5 minute timers and took it out at 30 minutes.

7. Remove from baking pan and place on cooling rack. After a few minutes peel parchment paper down from the bread loaf.

IMG_7373

This was super easy to make and was ridiculously moist – which is why I think I had a hard time determine how cooked with was. It may have been able to be in a for a few minutes less, but rather safe than sorry because the top still jiggled a bit at the 20 minute mark. The peanut butter flavor was pretty strong, so I’d be interested to see how another nut butter is in it and see if the chocolate could shine through more.

This recipe is naturally gluten-free, but I would check some of the ingredients (like cocoa because you never know).
IMG_7378

 

Recipe: Shredded Steak Tostadas

As warmer weather is approaching, we’re shifting how often we use the oven. It doesn’t matter if you have air conditioning, the oven turned on in the late spring and summer makes for a really warm kitchen. We cook a lot of things stove top, use our George Foreman or go outside and grill.

For this recipe, all you need is pots and pans and some tongs.

As we’re getting back into our routine of having dinner together again since the semester is over, I’ve been trying to incorporate meals that take a little longer or utilize entrees that may have a little assembly. I don’t need to rush dinner or have it in a Tupperware anymore, so this is a perfect opportunity to use corn tortillas.

I’ve made BBQ chicken tostadas before and since I had shaved steak I looked to see if there was a recipe that would be similar that I could check out.

Here’s what my Pinterest search looked like.

Pinterest steak tostada

So I skimmed through a few recipes and then decided to throw my own thing together.

What You’ll Need

  • Vegetables to saute (whatever you like, onions and peppers are perfect with this)
    • Red onion
    • White onion
    • Tomatoes
    • Bell Pepper
    • Mushrooms
  • 8 ounces shaved steak (I used Trader Joe’s because it’s lean and reasonably priced)
  • Jerk seasoning
  • 4 corn tortillas (I used Goya)
  • ~1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • ~2T Mozzarella cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions

1. Wash and chop vegetables into small pieces. They don’t need to be minced, but should be close to bite size.

2. Spray a medium sized pot with cooking spray and add vegetables. Put on medium heat. Stir occasionally as vegetables sweat.

3. In a separate pan, add shaved steak and seasoning blend. I used Jerk seasoning, but you could use something smokey or spicy for this recipe. Put on medium heat so you don’t burn the meat.

4. In a small pan, spray cooking spray or use a little bit of olive oil (with a paper towel) to lightly coat the bottom. Put on high heat to get pan to temperature, then decrease heat to medium/medium-high. Place a corn tortilla until you see air pockets form and the bottom side of the tortilla is browned. This should take a few minutes if the pan isn’t warmed up yet, then flip and let second side to brown. Repeat this for all corn tortillas. You may need to spray or wipe olive oil in between tortillas.

5. For plating, place a corn tortilla on a plate and spread plain Greek yogurt, I used a spoonful. Since this recipe makes two, I used half the steak for both tortillas, then added vegetables followed by shredded mozzarella cheese. Many recipes called for mozzarella, but you could use cheddar or a blend – whatever you prefer.

Nutritional estimates: ~350 calories, 11F/36C/32P

As always, nutrition will change based on brands and cuts of meat. If you use a different cut of meat, it may has more fat and therefore more calories. If you use more or less vegetables, etc.

If you want to check out the recipe that had inspired my BBQ chicken tostadas a while back, here it is!

❤ Cristina

A week in review – week 3 of the reverse diet

Yesterday marked the last day of my third week reversing my diet since the Cutler Classic. To say this week was easy would be a lie, but to say it was hard would be a stretch too.

At the beginning of the week I was traveling for work. Just like prep, I researched what was around my hotel as far as food options, I looked into a gym facility because getting my workout in even when traveling is important to me. Lastly, I packed snacks and loosely prepared meals i.e. pancakes for Pancake Monday.

I hit the gym like I do every Sunday morning, but it was important that I get in and out and home to pack. My flight took off in the afternoon, just before dinner, so I knew that I needed to have something to eat on the plane. My last meal at home was lunch and knowing that my flight wouldn’t land until 8 with an additional hour of driving in the car, I spread my meals out a little differently.

Lunch was higher in protein and lower in carbs because I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out of food too fast.

Sunday’s lunch: chicken with mushrooms, peppers and onions topped with salsa and jalapenos

For dinner, I essentially packed the same thing I had at lunch, sans jalapenos and I used a different spice blend.I had never been more thankful that dinner didn’t smell as I was when I opened the bag on the plane. No one wants to be that guy.

I also packed some snacks. Sarah sent me S’mores Boom Chica Pop Popcorn and it was a great snack to try on the plane. It says “I can be dessert if you pretend I am.”

And because I know I get hungry at specific times of the day, like 8ish at night when my dessert usually takes place, I packed a protein bar to try on my drive to the hotel. It was a newly released bar and I was so excited to try it. Sadly, this one just didn’t hit the spot an I may have reviewed it on Instagram.

But have no fear, I do eat a lot so I had dessert when i got to the hotel room. I was able to try my 5th Cookie Department Cookie. It’s called Tough Cookie and is their peanut butter cookie. Amazing. Soft and chewy and I mean just amazing. This was really winning and probably the best way to close my macros for the night.

But, my night didn’t end at the hotel. The room had a number of issues, the biggest one being the door wouldn’t shut and close properly. I had no faith in the manager on duty, so I called a different hotel to check on room availability and I left. That was the end of that night.

I started my Monday off the best way I know how – at the gym. Since I was traveling and knew my options were limited, I snagged a day pass at Planet Fitness. It’s not my favorite place at all, but I figured I could get the job done.

I thought they were kidding when I saw this sign. However, when the “lunk alarm” went off around 6 am I knew they weren’t kidding. I have no idea what set it off because I was in the zone, but it scared the hell out of me and kind of made me uncomfortable. So I got in and our as fast as possible.

The rest of my trip was pretty amazing actually.

Like I said, I packed my pancakes, which always starts my week off right and I was happy to find some whip cream in the eating area of the new hotel.

I had some time and I explored for the beach.This was the first time in about 3 years that I had gone to the beach in a swim suit. I felt pretty awesome and to me, it was meaningful. I also brought Bella along for the sun and she enjoyed it too!

We explored the area a little bit and because I am a planner, I knew where to find a cupcake shop! We picked up a gorgeous chocolate cupcake and had it late Monday night for dessert.

img_5137

Tuesday started of with a beautiful sunrise before we headed back home.We also had a chance to celebrate Taco Tuesday at the airport! #IIFYM

After a flight of binge watching the Food Network, I came home and was prepared to get creative in the kitchen, but only after I hit the gym first.

Egg white and raspberry omelette with cream cheese, topped with blackberry and blueberry reduction sauce

I do love traveling for work, but there is something about grocery shopping and making your own food. I had a ton of fun making meals this week. I also got the latest issue of Food Network Magazine, which only furthers my addiction of getting busy in the kitchen.

Feta and Spinach Salmon burger with sriracha mayo and a glass of sweet red

Breakfast grilled cheese was a thing this week (recipe already posted!)

I tried some new to me foods this week.

Oh Yeah! has other bars that were much better than this one…

Sarah understands my desire for all the peanut butter.

I went to lunch with my coworkers and was able to make some pretty great decisions.Surprisingly, I do really well with eating out. Even through prep this wasn’t an issue, it was just a matter of looking ahead to make sure I had options. I loved what I tried, but I can’t wait to go back see what else this restaurant has to offer.

I celebrated a coworker who recently finished their masters degree. No one knew what snacks would be at the party we were having and I figure it was better to bring something than wish I had. So I made a protein brownie and stuffed it with break and bake chocolate chip cookie dough. There were a number of good decisions made for that dessert to happen. Also, when I got to the party the only healthy item was a bowl of strawberries, there were cakes, brownies and rice crispy treats otherwise. Planning ahead works for me and I’m glad I didn’t wing it.

Try About Time protein brownie with break and bake chocolate chip cookie dough

Even though I had gone out to lunch and had an office party, I had promised myself I would get out of my apartment Thursday night. I’m a part of MeetUp in my area and they had planned a social at a new restaurant in town. I had planned to go to this specific event a few weeks ago and was able to build a beer into my macros, which was an excellent way to finish them off. I also had some great conversations and got a few numbers so I can hang out with other locals outside of MeetUp.Being social locally is something I struggle with because I don’t work in the city I live in and I’m not originally from the city I live in. Going to the gym is easy; it’s my alone time and I don’t have to have a buddy to with, but exploring would be nice with a partner. Also, this gave me an excuse to wear jeans for the first since Sunday.

Friday brought more experimenting in the kitchen.

Egg whites and pumpkin spice Nuts N More on a cinnamon raisin English Muffin

Caramel Turtle Oats for lunch

I had my second pre-op appointment Friday afternoon and I talked about that here. Overall, I’m excited for the surgery. This surgery is necessary for my peace of mind, for me to feel comfortable with myself. I say it all the time, I’ve worked so hard the past few years and I’m so thankful that there’s a permanent way for me to show off the hard work. There are definitely a few things that make me nervous, such as the eating, but that’s why I’ve worked with my coach on a plan. We’ve talked about my macros in relation to recovery and no exercise and will be adjusting them accordingly. JP and I have talked about some things that he can make for me that will be nutrient dense so that I can reach my macro goals or come close to them.

In preparation because I am that planning girl, I have a box of some snacks I want eat through recovery. They include some Cliff bars (carbs), Combat Bars and FitCrunch (protein). There’s a few other bars I’ve added. We have also talked about pancakes and oatmeal as great carbs and protein sources that I can eat without too much effort. One piece of feedback I’ve gotten from a number of women who have had a similar surgery is that eating was a lot of effort and that they felt nauseous. I have been prescribed a medication to help with that, but I also have some small meals planned so I can eat quickly and not worry about the “rocking the boat”feeling.

Saturday brought my last exploration before surgery. I went into Boston with Bella to see the Boston Public Market, Fanueil Hall and to go to lunch. I also had the plan to pick up cupcakes because cupcaking has been something I’ve been enjoying since prep ended.

 

 

Lunch at Durgin Park

Farmer’s Market outside the Public Market

img_5602

August 2012 versus May 2016

Lastly,  while I sent in my progress photos and weight to Alaina in the morning like I do every Saturday, I did my write up for her last night.I’m just as impressed as she is that I’m handing this reverse to well. It’s 3 weeks post show and I’m only up .2 pounds from stage weight. I’m also eating more. Before my check-in I was up 5F and 33C. I knew that with this check-in that we would be increasing something this coming week. Proud to say that my body is loving these increases and we’ve increased fat again by 2g and carbs by another 10g.

Now, please don’t think this is all sunshine and cupcakes. After having focused on losing weight and being in a deficit for so long, increasing my food is hard mentally.  I love food and I think that’s clear by how I get creative in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t get intimidated. I still believe in balance and vegetables and lean meats are a huge part of my diet, but now I can have a little more fun with other foods. That’s why I have been cupcaking about once a week since prep ended. I’m making up for lost cupcakes!

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I am enjoying all aspects of food. I’m using it as fuel for my workouts, but I’m enjoying the experience of having a really great cream cheese frosting. I have grown in so many ways, but the past 3 weeks I haven’t really feared food or been concerned with weight gain like I believe I was early in my journey. Every day has new challenges, but I’m trying to live every day and have some fun. There is more to life than working out and while yes that is a big part of my life, I’m excited that I am enjoying all the other labels I am – cook, girlfriend, lifter, competitor, writer, movie lover.

It’s going to be an interesting summer, but let’s get through this week first.

Surgery is in 4 days. The countdown is real.

❤ Cristina

 

 

Recipe: sweet pumpkin spice butternut squash

Sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash are essentially relatives, so why not treat them similarly? I understand that many squashes have distinct flavors such as acorn squash being a little more nutty, but butternut squash I believe has a lot of diversity.

I’m going out on a limb to say that I think there are two main ways to cook butternut squash, boil it or roast it. I typically roast it. Tonight it was cubed before roasting. Many times, I halve it, de-seed it and lay it face down on a baking sheet to cook with a little salt. Tonight, I did something similar by using a baking sheet, but I guess I have pie on my mind.

What you’ll need

  • Butternut squash
  • Olive oil
  • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Splenda
  • Sharp kitchen knife (or a knife that will cut through squash)
  • Mixing bowl
  • Cooking spray
  • Baking sheet
  • Oven

Directions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Start cutting your squash by halving it. Once you have it cut in half, de-seed it. I like to use and ice cream scoop because it pulls all the seeds and strings out easily.
  3. After you’ve de-seed your squash, start cutting it into cubes. To remove the skin, I cut it off, trying to keep as much of the meat as possible.
  4. Once your squash is cubed add it to your mixing bowl and sprinkle with a little olive oil. I use about 1 tablespoon. You may need to adjust this depending on how much squash you have in your bowl.
  5. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Even though you tossed the squash in olive oil it an still stick to the baking sheet.
  6. Dump squash onto baking sheet and spread evenly so that no pieces are on top of each other.
  7. Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice over squash. Use as generously as you would like. You can also use just cinnamon if you don’t like the other spices in the blend.
  8. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Splenda over the squash.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly crispy.

I’ve heard of people using honey to sweeten up squash, what ways do you like to prepare and cook yours?

❤ Cristina

 

 

Adventures with spaghetti squash

I can’t remember the last time that I actively bought a box of pasta and had an Italian night in. Even when I go out, I stay away from pasta. It’s not that I eat low carb or don’t like pasta, but I don’t feel satisfied when I eat it. I do feel full when I eat it, but within 30 minutes I’m staving again; this could be because a serving size isn’t very big or that there isn’t much nutritional value in pasta. Regardless, I’ve sought out alternatives that are lower carb and higher volume so I can stay fuller longer. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that I’ve used multiple times with a variety of ingredients to keep it interesting and provide a similar taste to my favorite pasta dishes.

Basic how-do cook spaghetti squash

What You’ll Need:

  • large pot
  • water
  • spaghetti squash
  • ice cream scoop

Directions:

  1. Fill a large pot about 75% of the way with water and set to get it boiling.
  2. Wash the outer skin of your spaghetti squash and pat dry with a towel.
  3. With a large and sharp knife cut the squash down the middle, length wise.
  4. With an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop out the seeds.
  5. Place the squash in the pot and cook until tender. Depending on the size of the squash this could take 20-30 minutes.
  6. Once it’s full cooked, drain the squash and with a fork scrap out the meat of the squash. it’ll cook out in strains, which is where it gets its name from.

Buffalo Chicken Bake

What You’ll Need:

  • cooked spaghetti squash
  • Frank’s Red Hot
  • cream cheese
  • shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • cooked chicken
  • casserole dish

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray casserole dish with a little bit of cooking spray. I used a mini bread loaf pan because I was making this for one serving, but you can use any size that you believe will fit all of your ingredients.
  3. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. I used left over chicken that I had already baked. *Make sure your chicken is already cooked.
  4. In a bowl weigh out your spaghetti squash. Since this was one serving, I used 100 grams of squash.
  5. Mix in each ingredient one at a time so they are all fully mixed.
  6. Add in Frank’s Red Hot to taste. I used 3 tablespoons because I like the kick.
  7. Add cream cheese. I used 1 table spoon of fat free cream cheese just a store brand.
  8. Add shredded cheese. I used Mexican cheese blend, but you could use cheddar or Monterrey Jack.
  9. Pour mixed into casserole pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350.

 

Italian Style Spaghetti Squash

What You’ll Need:

  • cooked spaghetti squash
  • Newman’s Own pasta sauce
  • cooked ground turkey
  • shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • small pot

Directions:

This recipe is for one serving so adjust the ingredients as you feel is necessary to make a larger quantity.

  1. In a medium pot  heat up 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta sauce. I used Newman’s Own because it has less sugar than a lot of other brands and therefore less carbohydrates.
  2. Add 150g of cooked spaghetti squash to the sauce and mix. Make sure that the squash is completely covered.
  3. Add in 4 ounces of cooked ground turkey. I cook my ground turkey like I do for Sloppy Joes, nice and crumbly. Also, make sure to drain the grease.
  4. Lastly, add in shredded cheese and mix so the it melts and is stringy.

I add spices to this recipes like basil or oregano. I also will add cooked onions, peppers and mushrooms too if I want more volume. Obviously, it doesn’t fully replace spaghetti, but the flavor is pretty darn close.


I’ve also tried Alfredo sauce and spinach with spaghetti squash, but I wasn’t that big of a fan. These are definitely my top two ways to cook it. It’s also good plain with a little bit of salt as a side too.

I love playing with alternatives and veggies. I hope you get inspired by these two combinations and get creative in the kitchen to think of your own!

 

❤ Cristina