Water with Super Powers

Water…boring!  Yeah, water is not fun, but whoa man it is so very important!  Here are just a few reasons why you should drink water daily:

  • It could aid weight loss.
  • It hydrates during exercise.
  • It keeps things moving, digestion-wise.
  • It can improve your mood.
  • It may help prevent headaches, naturally.
  • It keeps our kidneys working.
  • It energizes us.
  • It protects our joints and cartilage.

And the list goes on and on and on….

So how can I make drinking a TON of water every day a little more bearable??  I infuse yummy goodness into it!  I have tried a lot of varieties like strawberry-cucumber, mixed berries, and cucumber-lemon, but this one is a little extra special so I wanted to share it with you all.

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     Grab your ingredients:

     – 8 – 9 cups of water

     – 1 medium cucumber (peeled and sliced)

     – 1 medium lemon (sliced)

     – 12 mint leaves

     – 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root

Mix everything together in a pitcher (don’t      you just love this one that my sister-in-law brought me back from her trip to Poland?!).  Let the water sit overnight in the fridge so that the flavors can infuse the water.  Drink a whole pitcher of this water every day to reap the best benefits!

 

So how about I tell you what’s so special about this water:

1 – Cucumber – It is good for your muscles (cucumbers contain silica which is necessary to keep connective tissue healthy).  It is good for your skin (the silica and antioxidants help your skin stay clear and supple).  It is low calorie (an entire cucumber averages 45 calories, so a few slices in your water is not adding many additional calories).

2 – Lemon – The health benefits of lemons are due to its many nourishing elements like vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin A, folate, niacin thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, copper, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and protein.  Lemon is a fruit that contains flavanoids, which are composites that contain antioxidant and cancer fighting properties.  It helps to prevent diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, fever, indigestion and many other problems, as well as improving the skin, hair, and teeth!

3 – Mint – Mint is a great appetizer or palate cleanser, and it promotes digestion. It also soothes stomachs in cases of indigestion or inflammation. The aroma of mint activates the salivary glands in our mouth as well as glands which secrete digestive enzymes, thereby facilitating digestion. Mint is a naturally soothing substance, so it can alleviate the inflammation and temperature rise that is often associated with headaches and migraines.  Mint is a natural stimulant, and the smell alone can be enough to charge your batteries and get your brain functioning on a high level again.

and finally…

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4 – Ginger Root – Historically, ginger has a long tradition of being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. In herbal medicine, ginger is regarded as an excellent carminative (a substance which promotes the elimination of intestinal gas) and intestinal spasmolytic (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects.

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I mean with all those amazing health benefits you couldn’t call this water anything other than super powered!  Go ahead and whip up a batch, enjoy the refreshing flavor and all the health benefits!

Resources:

http://lajollamom.com/drink-cucumber-water-health/

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-lemon.html 

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/health-benefits-of-mint.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

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Snack Hack

While we were in Florida this past week, my mom introduced Hubs to these Sargento Balanced Breaks Snack Packs.  He loved them!  And I loved that he was getting a serving of fruit, protein, and dairy all in one simple energy packed snack!

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What I didn’t love so much about these snack packs was the price!  The suggested retail price is $3.69 for a 3-pack.  But never fear, mom to the rescue!  She mentioned that sometimes she just buys the pieces and makes up her own little snack packs.  Sometimes when I try this technique it ends up costing me the same amount of money, but more effort…ugh.  But I thought I would give it a try anyways…plus I could cater the snack packs to meet the finicky taste buds of my hubs.

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So today we picked up a block of colby-jack cheese, a container of unsalted mixed nuts, and a package of dried berries.  The total cost for all the ingredients $9.17….yikes!  So after I put together our own Balanced Snack Packs, I sat down to crunch the numbers…was it worth it?

  Nuts Cheese Fruit Total Sargento
Calories 170 200 33 403 190
Fat 15 16 0 31 13
Sodium 0 340 0 340 180
Protein 6 14 1 21 7

Wait a minute!!  Something can’t be right!  How in the world are my nutritional facts almost DOUBLE what we would be getting from the Sargento Packs?!  So I went back and checked the serving sizes.  Found it!  The Sargento serving size is 43 grams and I had created 80 gram packs!  So my servings were actually 2 per pack!  When I look at the nutritional facts that way (per serving), it looks more like this:

  Homemade Sargento
Calories 201.5 190
Fat 15.5 13
Sodium 170 180
Protein 10.5 7

Well that’s more like it!  I see that as almost identical!  So now that I am satisfied with the nutritional content, lets go back to the price….

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Sargento works out to $1.23 per serving…or if you get a $0.75 coupon, you are looking at $0.98 per serving.  Not bad…but let’s see how it looks on our end.  Was it worth the 15 minutes it took me to put the packs together?

I would say so!!  My personal balanced snack packs work out to $0.92 per serving (if you look at the double serving).  BUT, if you take serving size into account, it is only $0.46 per serving!!  WOWZA!  That was totally worth it to put together a healthy, balanced snack that the Hubs will actually eat!!  Try it out my friends!!

Post-Run Smoothie

After I run, I am not in the mood to eat a big meal, but I know it is super important to start recovering my muscles pronto!  So I have been hunting for some delicious, easy smoothies – with TONS of health benefits! 

The Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie is packed full of the good stuff!  The best part is that it is only 3 ingredients, so it is quick and easy to whip one up after a run!

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Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorous. In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1.

Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K as well as providing a good dose of fiber, folic acid, manganese and potassium. They also contain significant amounts of phytonutrients and flavanoids which makes strawberries bright red. They have been used throughout history in a medicinal context to help with digestive ailments, teeth whitening and skin irritations. Their fiber and fructose content may help regulate blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and the fiber is thought to have a satiating effect. Leaves can be eaten raw, cooked or used to make tea.  The vibrant red color of strawberries is due to large amounts of anthocyanidin, which also means they contain powerful antioxidants and are thought to protect against inflammation, cancer and heart disease.

Soy milk, which is made from soaking, grinding and boiling soy beans with water, is a very nutritious drink. Soy is naturally high in essential fatty acids, proteins, fiber, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients provide energy and keep your body functioning at its optimum level.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: super easy
  • Print
Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup tofuIMG_1918
  • 1 cup strawberries 
  • 2 cups chocolate milk

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to the blender. 
  2. Blend until very smooth. 
  3. Add a straw and Enjoy!

My New Favorite Snack

I am going to be honest when I say that I have never given guacamole a real chance…my bad!  I tried a twist on a recipe for homemade, fresh guacamole and whoa baby….I am so glad I did!!!  Try it out – even if you haven’t really liked guacamole before – I promise, it’s delish!

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Fresh & Fast Homemade Guacamole

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: super easy
  • Print
Ingredients:  

  • 1 ripe avacadoIMG_1827
  • 1 roma tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Optional:  a splash of lime juice (I leave this out personally)

Directions:

  1. Rough cut the avacado, then slightly mash with a fork.IMG_1828.jpg
  2. Add in the diced tomato, onion, and garlic.  Mix with a fork.
  3. Continue to mash slightly until you reach a texture and consistency you are happy with.
  4. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

A lighter Ranch

I HATE cottage cheese!  Sorry cottage cheese, but just saying that out loud makes me gag.  It is just so watery and chunky and ewwww.  Let’s not talk about it anymore – deal? 

With that being said, you will be shocked that I LOVE LOVE LOVE this lightened up ranch dip.  It is just down right perfect for dipping carrot sticks!!

It-which-must-not-be-named Ranch Veggie Dip

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   1.5 cups 1% cottage cheese

   2 Tbsp 1% milk

   1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

   1 package dry ranch dip mix

 

Mix all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor – um, love my Ninja blender! – and you are done!  This makes four 1/2 cup servings of a lighter veggie dip!  And the best part is you can’t even tell that it-which-must-not-be-named is in the mix!

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Calories:  104   Fat:  1g   Carbs:  9   Fiber:  2g   Protein:  14g  (2 WW+points per serving)

Trying Out a New Snack

I am always on the lookout for a new snack to help satisfy my hunger when I get home from work.  For some reason I always feel like I am starving, then have to start dinner.  So instead of munching along while I cook, I try to eat something I know is good for me to keep my hunger down until dinner time.  This one was a super huge success for me because not only is it filling, it is super YUMMO!  It even has a hint of sweetness which my sweet tooth thanks me for daily!

Yogurt Fruit Granola Bars

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      •    2 cups FF vanilla greek  yogurt
      •    1 cup chopper strawberries
      •    1 small banana, chopped
      •    1/4 cup chopped almonds
      •    3/4 cup low fat granola

 

Mix the yogurt, strawberries, banana, almonds, and granola in a bowl.  Look at all that freshness – YUMMO!

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Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil and and spread the mixture into the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight.

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Remove from the freezer and let thaw for 5 minutes (this is very important – they are hard as rocks if you don’t let thaw!).  Cut into 6 bars.  Store them in an airtight container in the freezer (I went ahead and put them in individual sandwich bags).  They are not great for lunch boxes because they get super mushy if they thaw out too much.  But they are PERFECT for an after-school snack.  I grab one from the freezer when I come in, walk the dogs, get the mail, unpack my lunch box, and then it is thawed out perfectly to chow down on!  Delish!

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Calories:  150     Fat:  3.1g    Carbs:  22g   Fiber:  2.8g   Protein:  9.7g  (4 ww+ points each)

Lightening up a Restaurant Favorite

Appetizers are my weakness, especially the fried ones! Winking smile  I especially like the fried Southwestern Egg Rolls are Chilies.  The definitely make the top of my list. BUT….lets look at the nutritional information for this favorite treat of mine:

Chili’s Southwestern Egg Rolls:  800 Calories, 41g fat, 82g carbs, 9g fiber, 21g protein – yikes…that’s a lot of calories!

So why not lighten them up a little, so I can still enjoy this yummy southwest treat, with a third of the calories!?

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Ingredients:

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  • 1/2 lb cooked and shredded chicken (I cooked mine in the crockpot with my Chicken Noodle Soup)
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 (15 oz) can reduced sodium black beans
  • 2 cups shredded 2% sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz) can fire roasted green chilies, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium taco seasoning (1 package)
  • 24 egg roll wrappers

Preheat the oven to 4250.  Lightly mist two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.  Drain and rinse your black beans.

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In a small bowl, combine green chilies, taco seasoning, and ground red pepper.

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In an extra-large bowl, combine corn, black beans, cheddar cheese, spinach, chicken, and onions.  Stir to combine, then add the green chili mixture.

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Pour some water in a small dish and set aside.  On a flat surface, place an egg roll wrapper, corner facing towards you (like a diamond).

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Place 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture on the center of the wrapper.

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Spread the mixture in a horizontal line from the left corner to the right corner of the egg roll wrapper.  Leave a 1/2 inch empty space on each side.

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Fold the bottom corner closest to you up over the ingredients and give it a 90 degree roll.

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Fold the side corners in and tuck them as you give the filled section another 90 degree roll.

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Dip your finger in the dish of water and lightly wet the edges of the remaining top corner of the wrapper.  Finish rolling the filled egg roll over the wet corner so that it adheres.

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Place wrapped egg roll onto the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

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When all of the egg rolls are wrapped and on the baking sheets, lightly mist the tops with cooking spray.  Bake for 7 minutes, flip them over, and bake 8 more minutes, until the wrappers are golden brown.  Serve with cilantro ranch dip (I will show you how to make that tomorrow).

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Serving Size:  4 Eggrolls, 216 calories, 5g fat, 37g carbs, 4g fiber, 19g protein

Wow!  1/3 the calories and 36 LESS grams of fat!  And they taste simply amazing!