Friday, April 13, 2012

I AM IN THE ZONE! >> What I'm Cooking (Recipes Galore) + Week 4 P90X Results

For now, I'm taking my blog in slightly a different direction, not that I think anyone really cares AND not like my blog has ever really had FOCUS.  It's my blog and I'll write what I want to (I kinda just sang that in my head).  I'm going to continue to write about the usual stuff (my adventures dining out in Indy, my family/friends, home improvements, etc) but I'm also going to chronicle my journey into living healthy and the trials and tribulations associated with getting into shape.  I, by no means, specialize in nutrition or exercise so consult with an expert and take whatever you want from my little blog - the little nook I've carved out in the wonderful world of the internet.

I've had such positive energy lately which has translated into creativity and motivation.  There is renewed life in our beautiful kitchen (no cob-webs up in here).  I haven't bought a cute outfit in ages but our fridge and pantry has been stocked with fresh produce and health-conscious staples.  I see that as an investment with better pay off.  I'd hate to waste a paycheck on an outfit when my muffin top is raging or my saddle bags are rearing their ugly face.  Eating right and exercising doesn't really provide the instant gratification that retail therapy has in the past but I never feel the buyer's remorse either.  Although I moan and whine before and during a hard workout, I've never looked back and thought "Geez, that was a mistake."   I've also cut back on the alcohol, significantly.  I really don't have the room in my diet nutrition plan for the empty calories and it's been wonderful not having the bloat from all the carbonation.  That doesn't mean I don't enjoy a beer or glass of wine when out socially but otherwise, I don't see any need for it.  A solid workout has become my de-stresser after a long day of work.

My workouts over the past 4 weeks consisted of following the Classic P90X schedule which goes as follows:

  • Day 1: Chest & Back + Ab Ripper X
  • Day 2: Plyometrics
  • Day 3: Shoulder & Arms + Ab Ripper X
  • Day 4: Yoga X
  • Day 5: Legs & Back + Ab Ripper X
  • Day 6: Kenpo X
  • Day 7: Rest or X Stretch

I didn't follow this schedule down to a T but I tried my best.  Week 4 was supposed to be a rest week but I didn't want to!  A couple days I added a 30 minute jog or did a Tone It Up workout instead.  D refuses to do Yoga X with me so I do it by myself on a day off, like today.  We are missing a couple of the DVDs which I hope to get soon because Week 5 mixes it up and add some new workouts.

I definitely can't give all the credit to working out.  A HUGE portion of it has been my adjustments to my eating habits.  I mentioned this in my previous post but I'm going to say it again: MyFitnessPal for iPhone (and I'm assuming Android) can be your best friend.  I know it sounds tedious and completely anal to record everything you eat but I think it is essential.  It is downright scary, to me, to think of how many weekend benders I've had in the past where I ate/drank probably 3000+ calories a day.  Quite frankly, I should be obese.  By carefully monitoring what you eat, you have the ultimate control.  I try and keep my calorie consumption under 1500.  Because I've incorporated physical activity, I've added 300 more calories from the usual 1200 I would aim for prior to starting up P90X.  I can safely say that there hasn't been a single night that I've gone to bed hungry.  I eat nutritionally dense foods, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables.  I tend to stick with poultry for my meats (occasionally I will eat red meat).  I also find a great source of protein from beans, tofu, eggs, etc.; not to mention, the delicious protein shakes post workout.

Below are some recipes of the meals I've made over the past couple weeks as well as some of my go-to items.

On days that I work, I typically go for a smoothie that I can quickly blend up and take with me as I rush out the door.  My 20 minute drive is perfect for me to easily and conveniently drink a smoothie down while listening to my favorite sports-radio channels.

SKINNY GREEN MONSTER (makes 1 serving)

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 1 TBSP creamy peanut butter
Combine all ingredients in a blender.

PEACH BANANA SMOOTHIE (makes 2 servings)
  • 2 cups frozen peaches
  • 1 banana
  • 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 2 TBSP creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
Combine all ingredients in a blender.
Not too much difficulty with the smoothies.  Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are a great option too.  Beware of seeds!

I also want to recommend Nature's Path Organic Flax Plus Cereals.  I've tried the Red Berry Crunch and the Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola.  They are so delicious, a great source of Omega-3 and not loaded with sugar.
Nature's Path Organic (Flax Plus) Red Berry Crunch in a empty jar of peanut butter.
Giving it one last hoorah  before heading to the trash.

Here's what I had this morning:
Whole wheat English muffin with 1 TBSP Olivio Coconut Spread, 1/2
fresh grapefruit, low fat cottage cheese with a handful of fresh raspberries
Nothing super special but at right around 320 calories, it did the trick!  I have to take a minute to thank my friend *Fefe for accidentally leaving my a container of Olivio Coconut Spread because I'm obsessed.  I use it with everything! 

For lunch and dinner ideas, I've scoured the internet looking for great, easy recipes, especially soups that make a large enough batch for dinner and then again the following day, work lunches for both D and I.  

Curried Carrot Soup (makes 6 servings) Adapted from Eating Well

  •  3 TBSP canola oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper
1.  Cook oil and curry powder in large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until fragrant (1-2 minutes).  Stir in carrots, celery and onions; toss to coat in oil.  Cook, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.  Stir in broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. 
2.  Using an emulsion blender (or regular blender in batches), blend until it's a smooth, pureed consistency.  Pour into bowls.  Season with fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt and pepper.  

Chicken Enchilada Soup (makes 6 servings) Adapted from Skinny Taste

  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tsp chipotle chili in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 8-oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Optional: scallions, shredded cheese, fat-free sour cream, avocado, lime wedges, tortilla chips
1.  Heat oil in dutch oven (or crock pot) over medium-low heat.  Add onion and garlic and saute until soft (3-4 minutes).  Slowly add chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil.
2.  Add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, chipotle powder, and oregano, and stir.  Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
3.  Remove chicken and shred with 2 forks.  Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste.  Serve in bowls and top with sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), scallions, cilantro, avocado and lime.

Turkey Chili Blanc (makes 4 servings) Adapted from Better Homes and Garden

  •  12 oz uncooked ground turkey (extra lean)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 12-oz can/bottle beer
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tsp instant beef bouillon cubes
  • 1-1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sauce from chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2 15.5-oz cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1TBSP lime juice
  • Optional: sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), cilantro, lime wedges, ground chipotle chili powder
1.  In a large saucepan, cook turkey and onion over medium-high heat until turkey is no longer pink and onions are tender; drain.
2.  Return to saucepan and stir in beer, water, broth, jalapenos, bouillon cubes, chili powder, cumin and adobo sauce.   Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 20 mins, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the drained beans and lime juice; heat through.
3.  Mash half of the beans to thicken chili; stir and ladle into bowl.  If desired, garnish with sour cream, cilantro, lime wedges and chipotle chili powder.

Chicken and Avocado Soup (makes 4 servings)  Adapted from Skinny Taste

  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups shredded chicken breast (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • 1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups scallions, chopped fine
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
  • 4 lime wedges
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch cumin
  • pinch chipotle chile powder
1.  In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add 1 cup of scallions and garlic.  Saute about 2 minutes then add tomatoes and saute another minute, until soft.  
2.  Add chicken stock, cumin and chile powder and bring to a boil.  Simmer, covered on low for about 15-20 minutes.
3.  In each bowl, fill with 1/2 cup chicken, 1/2 avocado, scallions and cilantro. Ladle 1 cup chicken broth over the chicken and serve with a lime wedge.

Lately, I've also been on a major salad kick!

Mixed Green Salad with Grapefruit and Cranberries (makes 6 servings) Adapted from Eating Well

  • 2 red grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2 TBSP minced scallions
  • 1 TBSP white-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups torn red leaf lettuce
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups baby spinach
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1.  Remove the skin and white pith from grapefruit with a sharp knife.  Working over a bowl, cut the segments from their surrounding membranes.  Cut the segments in half on a cutting board and transfer to a large salad bowl.  Squeeze the grapefruit peel and membranes over the original bowl to extract 1/4 cup grapefruit juice.
2.  Whisk oil scallions, vinegar, salt and pepper into the bowl with the grapefruit juice.
3.  Add lettuce, spinach and artichoke hearts  to the salad bowl with the grapefruit segments.  Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing until well coated.  Sprinkle cranberries and pine nuts on top.

Tuna and Avocado Spinach Salad (serves 1)

I tossed this delicious salad together the other night so ingredient measurements may not be precise.
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup red leaf lettuce
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup red onion
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1 can chunk light tuna in water
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • juice of 1 lemon wedge
  • dash of lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 TBSP Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette
1.  In a small bowl, mix tuna, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and lemon pepper seasoning.
2.  In a medium salad bowl, combine spinach, red leaf lettuce, red bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado and craisins, and toss.  
3.  Top with the tuna and drizzle the Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette dressing.

For the past 2 days, I've made the same exact thing for lunch.  I am on a sweet potato kick.  It is an entree and a dessert all in one (especially topped with coconut spread and a dash of cinnamon).  I also improvised this simple, yet totally scrumptious salad.

Citrus Salad (makes 1 serving) 
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup red leaf lettuce
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup scallions
  • 1 TBSP craisins
  • 1/2 medium orange, diced
  • 1/4 orange, juiced
  • 1 TBSP Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette
1.  Start building the salad with the spinach and lettuce, cherry tomatoes, scallions, craisins, and diced orange segments.
2.  In a small ramekin, add garlic vinaigrette and orange juice.  Give quick whisk and pour over salad.

So what are the results?...drum roll....

I've dropped 3 pounds on the scale.  Not really the numbers I wanted to see but the actual physical ones are the best!  See for yourself:

It may not seem like a lot but to me, it's fantastic.  By far, my stomach and hips have always been my trouble spots and they are shrinking every week.  My clothes are fitting looser.  My hips aren't flaring out as much as they used to.  The thought of pools opening up in about a month in a half doesn't seem as daunting; in fact, I'm excited.


  1. Go you! Great job. Those recipes look so delicious.

  2. wow you look so good and your doing it the healthy way... awesome! Plus that food looks so good!

  3. Wow! Congrats on getting fit and healthy! I was getting hungry from reading this post...make me want to try all of these recipes!