Body Reboost Salad

I don’t know about you but I had a wonderful holiday week.  Actually, it is going to continue a bit this weekend with a little New Year’s celebration.

Admittedly, I overindulged.  I knew what I was doing and I was okay with it at the time.  Generally speaking, I eat very well.  I enjoy eating healthy but also enjoy a little sweetness in my daily routine.  However, I ate a lot and I ate a lot of some not so healthy foods last week.  It was fun.  But now I feel a bit puffy and sluggish.

Nothing feels better after a little overindulging, than to get back on the healthy bandwagon.  One thing that is great for your body and belly is beans.  Beans are a powerhouse of nutritional goodness.

When we walked in the door from a week away, we had very few things in the refrigerator or cupboard.  However, anytime I got to the grocery store and they have a sale on canned goods, I stock up.  Mary loves chili and I love that she is a fan of beans.

I quickly went to town making this “salad.”  I knew she would gobble it up. I also knew that it would fill the rest of us up and leave our bellies feeling a little better.  One thing that happens when I eat a bit differently than normal is that I get horrible heart burn.  Giving your belly a little “reboost” can help to reset your body.

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This recipe is super simple and likely already in your kitchen.  Here are a few benefits of this fun “salad.”

Black beans: are packed full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and folate.  They are low in cholesterol and heart healthy.

Garbanzo beans:  are high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron.  They are low in fat and calories and again are really great for your heart healthy lifestyle.

Kidney beans: are high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, maganese, Vitamin B1, and folate.

Corn: is also high in fiber, and a wonderful antioxidant.  Antioxidants help repair damage from cancer causing agents in our bodies.  Chemicals in this vegetable also help improve vision.

Red onions: continue on our healthy eating plan by packing in calcium, folate, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins C, K  and B6.

Our bodies rely on a variety of these minerals and vitamins.  Getting an abundance helps to ensure that we keep our bodies functioning and healthy.

So how do we make this super simple salad?  

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:

Drain all of the canned vegetables and rinse in a colander.  Chop the red onion and add all ingredients to a bowl.  Toss with EVOO.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add a little balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar to give a little kick.

I love adding this on top of my green salads.  It also tastes delicious with a little salsa and a dash of cheese.  This is a great one to make a big batch and add to other dishes throughout the week.

Cooking Inspiration and Recipe Revamp

Happy Friday!  The weekend is almost upon us and it might just snow here tomorrow.   While I am not ready for that, I do love cooking and baking when the cold weather rolls around.

Fall and winter inspire me to turn on the oven and start trying out new recipes.  Today I want to share a few of my favorite websites to visit for recipe inspirations:

Cooking Light:  I have been a subscriber of Cooking Light since I was in high school.  I even recall having all of my friends come over for lunch one day and try out a loaded potato soup that I made.  Even back then, I loved finding healthier versions of my favorite foods.  This site is easy to search.

This Brownie Cheesecake Torte from a 1997 issue is still one of my favorite treats to make!

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Six Sisters Stuff:  This is my absolute favorite website for searching recipes.  I honestly have never had a failed recipe from these ladies.  I love their slow cooker options and this is the first place I go to when I want to try a new soup.  Perfect place to visit for winter weather!

Their Nacho Grande Soup is a huge hit with our family and friends.  You can make it in the slow cooker or on the stove.  I make it with either beef or turkey and it always comes out just right.  I like to add a can of kidney beans and black beans to give it a bit more substance.

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Skinny Taste:  This is a great resource for healthy eating.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert ideas can all be found here.  I love being able to search the under 30 minute meals.  Having access to quick dinners keeps the excuses for takeout away.

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Foot Network:  Another magazine that I love to subscribe to is Food Network.  I love the variety of chefs and great ideas that come out of this magazine.  When I am not sure what to make for a party or special dinner, I turn to this site.  There are so many different types of recipes, you are bound to find something you like.

For the holidays, I love making these Peppermint Cream’s.  They are so simple and delicious.  These are the perfect gifts to share with family and friends.

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Finally, I love searching my favorite blogger’s sites for their shared inspiration.  I follow such an awesome variety of people, that my blogroll is full of great ideas.

I wanted to share my newish concoction with you.  These may not qualify as healthy, but they are the perfect occasional splurge.  These Pudgies showed up on my site several years ago.  I have since found a wonderful new twist for this fall season.  Jello-O makes Pumpkin Spice pudding mixes.  Swap the Banana Cream out for Pumpkin Spice and add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to your dry ingredients and you will have an incredibly delicious treat on your hands!  The flavor and consistency of this treat is a favorite around here.

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What is your go-to site for finding delicious recipes?  Do you have a favorite recipe that can’t be missed?

Dining Out And Treating People Well

Happy Wednesday!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend (clearly I’m a little slow this week).  We enjoyed a lovely few days of sunny weather, leaf cleaning, running of course, and some family time.

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Shorts in November is the way to my heart!

As new parents, we have been avoiding going out to dinner.  For awhile, Mary was testing her vocal chords and attempting to see how much attention she could get in public.  These days, she just likes trying out her new words and waving/blowing kisses to everyone.  She’s adorable but also a ticking time bomb.  At any moment, we know everything could turn into a nuclear meltdown.

Just over three years ago, Rock and I got married.  Among the lovely gifts we received was a gift certificate to a restaurant.  That card has survived multiple moves and shifts among different bags and wallets.  We finally decided to go out and use that gift as a family and cross our fingers.

At the perfectly hip hour of 5:00pm on a Friday night we arrived for dinner.  It had been a long time since we had been out for a family meal.  I was looking forward to not cooking or cleaning up and also having a nice big fat steak.  It was going to be my splurge night.

Mary had a blast eating our appetizer and coloring with crayons.  It was great.

The couple across from us ate their dinner and had a pleasant conversation.  Then they asked their server to bring over the manager.  Having once worked in the restaurant business, this always piques my interest.  We run a business where customer service and satisfaction are essential.  We both leaned in a little bit to hear what was going on.

One of the patrons at the other table explained to the manager that while they love this particular restaurant, their entree was overcooked and it was not what they were looking for.  The manager kindly mentioned that they finished the entree and asked how they had asked for their meal to be prepared.  The patron responded that they wanted a steak made medium well.

The manager was gracious and didn’t even bother pointing out that a medium well steak might be tough. They were given a new meal to take home and not charged for that entree. We then overheard the customer hand over a gift certificate for three times the price of their dinner.  They asked if they could tip from the gift card and then stated they would be generous and leave the server $2; less than 10% of the cost of the meal.  Let me also note that they mentioned several times to the manager that they had fantastic service.

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Here is where I have an issue: Why would you eat your entire meal and then flag down a manager after you were finished to let them know that your meal wasn’t satisfactory?

Restaurants are in the customer service business.  It is their job to make sure you are having a great experience.  My first job ever was as a hostess of a very nice Italian restaurant.  I am still forever grateful to that company for taking a leap and hiring me.  The general manager was a wonderful man who taught me so much about customer service.  He graciously showed me how to answer a phone in a pleasant and professional manner, and how to deal with multitasking and “difficult” customers.    It is not a surprise to me to see that he is now a top restaurant manager in Las Vegas for a large corporation.

Here is what I learned:  When you go out to eat, your server basically makes no hourly wage.  It works this way because the industry assumes that you the consumer will compensate by tipping.

I know this infuriates some and you say that the restaurants should compensate the server so that you don’t have to.  That is how it works in Europe and other countries.  While that is a great concept, our government has not made that a law.  Employers can pay servers $2 or $3 per hour, meaning servers rely on your tips.

This works in your favor because most servers want your gratuity.  They are going to do everything in their power to give you a wonderful dining experience.  This also means they are freaking out when the kitchen is working slowly or providing you with subpar food.

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Here is what you get:  When you dine at a restaurant, you are paying for the experience.  You are paying to view a menu and choose what sounds good at that moment.  You are paying for someone to call in your order, bring the food to you, clean up, and make sure your drinks are full.  You don’t have to cook, clean, or do the dishes.

There is also a full staff working with your server.  Bartenders, bussers, and assistants delivering food to your table are all part of the team.  Your server often has to share a portion of their tips with all of these people.   So when you stiff their tip, everyone is getting slighted.

Please be patient and considerate when things aren’t perfect.  Sometimes we get bad service.  When this happens, it is important to sit back for a moment and look around.  Does your server have 10 tables and everyone is asking for something or waiting for their meals too?  Is the meal taking a long time?  Remember that your server doesn’t have control over a slow kitchen.  Keep in mind that sometimes a hostess can get a bit hasty and seat too many people in your server’s section at once and they are bogged down or overwhelmed.

I honestly believe that most people are good and they want to do well at their jobs.  Your server is likely not trying to provide you with a poor experience.   They want your tips and want to do well by you.

If you see that they are trying but  very busy, maybe new, or perhaps the kitchen is at fault, please don’t discount the tip.  These people are working very hard and rely on your gratuity.

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My golden rule for going out to dinner is that if we are going to afford paying for drinks and food, we walk in knowing that we are also paying for the gratuity.  If we can’t afford to properly tip, we shouldn’t be dining out.

How do you feel about tipping or dining out?  Have you ever worked at a restaurant?  Do you have a toddler (or other family member…haha) that you fear will erupt at the dinner table?

Simple Brie and Herb Sticks

It’s cooling off and that means I’m spending more time in the kitchen baking and cooking.  Last night we popped a big tray of spaghetti pie out of the freezer and into the oven for a delicious leftover treat.

We rarely do spaghetti or any other pasta, but when we do we like to go for it.  Nothing goes better with a pasta dinner than some garlic bread.

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However, I have been craving a treat that I used to enjoy back in college.  This randomly came to mind the other day and I looked to see if the Silver Moon Bakery was still in operation on the Upper West Side of NYC and sure enough, it is!  When I was in my early college years and living on a pretty tight budget, I would walk by the Silver Moon with envy on weekends as I trudged to work.  Everyone would be sitting outside sipping coffee and eating pastries.  I couldn’t wait for a day when I didn’t have to work weekends and had some spare cash to dine out.

When I graduated and had a bit more free time, I would swing in after church on Sundays.  This was when I discovered their amazing brie and herb breadsticks.  I would base what I made for dinner that night to pair perfectly with these delicious treats.

Yesterday I wasn’t quite in the mood to actually bake bread.  So while I was at the store, I opted for a speedy version of this delicious treat.  While these are super simple, they taste like you toiled in the kitchen all afternoon.  Perfect with a pasta dinner but also great with any entree.  Make these ahead of time and impress your family or guests.  Or just horde them for yourself.

Ingredients:

2 tubes of crescent rolls

1 triangle of brie cheese

Herbs de Provence

Optional: Peppermill

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Unroll the crescent crust but keep flat and do not separate.  Keep 2 triangles of crust together to form a rectangle.  Lay flat on an ungreased baking sheet.  Slice a thin piece of brie and lay down the length of crust.  Sprinkle generously with Herbs de Provence.  A little fresh pepper can add a great zest too.

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Place another rectangle of crust on top.  Repeat until you have used all of the crust.  Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.  Slice diagonally to make sticks.

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Enjoy!

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These were a hit with Mary.  She kept asking for more.

Where is your favorite bakery?   What is your favorite bakery purchase?

Super Easy Turkey Chili

Fall has me craving warm, simple meals.  I love something that I can pull together while Mary naps and then let simmer on the stove all day.  Soups are one of my favorite fall treats, especially on a chilly afternoon.

Last Sunday Mary and I got up nice and early and took a crisp run together with the jogging stroller.  Mary was going as candy corn the next day for Halloween and she kept trying to put her costume on.  So we popped her costume on her and she spent the day amusing everyone on our run and then later at the grocery store.

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I had just arrived back from NYC the night before and our fridge was bare.  So we took a quick swing through the store to load up.  I wasn’t sure what to do for dinner but as we moseyed around, I decided to wing it with a nice warm turkey chili.

In a means to make this chili both healthy and filling, I opted for a variety of beans.  High in fiber and protein, they are the perfect choice.  Next I opted for lean ground turkey over beef (mind you, I am still a fan of beef).

Everything came together in less than 20 minutes and then I covered it up and let it simmer all afternoon.  It was the perfect fall dinner and we had several days worth of delicious leftovers.

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I prefer to do a double recipe when I make soup so that I have plenty of leftovers for both the fridge and the freezer.  Nothing is better than not knowing what to make for dinner and pulling one of these out and warming it up on a busy night.

Ingredients:

2 pounds lean ground turkey

1 white onion (diced)

1 can red kidney beans

1 can light kidney beans

1 can black beans

1 can garbanzo beans

2 cans minced tomatoes

1 can tomato sauce

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

Directions:

In a large pot, begin browning your ground turkey (about 10 minutes).  It should be lean enough that you likely won’t need to drain it.  Add in the diced onion and simmer (about 5 minutes).  Add in spices and stir.  Drain all of the cans of beans and add to pot.  Add tomatoes and sauce.  Cover and turn to low.  Simmer until ready to eat.  I recommend at least 1 hour before serving.

If you are looking for a meatless option, this would be delicious with quinoa or rice too!

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How do you like your chili?

Healthy Through The Holidays

Can you believe it is already November?!  Halloween has left us in it’s dust and we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving.  I keep seeing posts on Facebook pointing out that there are only a few weekends left until Christmas.  Where is time going?!

As a health and running coach, I read a lot about holiday weight gain.  To be quite honest, most of it drives me crazy.  It is true that many of us will put on a few pounds during the holidays.  We will all likely over indulge at some point on holiday treats or drinks at a party.  Most of us will overload our plates at Thanksgiving and again at Christmas (and probably a few other parties along the way).

What drives me nuts is how the fitness industry preys on this fear.  It’s almost like they lurk in the background waiting for us to feel guilty about our overindulging.  They wait until that guilt has set in and we approach the New Year ready to make resolutions.

There is no reason to approach the holidays with fear!

Gyms are just waiting for you to come in on January 1st, all giddy to lose weight and ready to fork over money not only for a gym membership but also initiation fees.  They know that the majority of people who come in with New Year’s resolutions, will quickly abandon them by February.

If you have a gym membership you know exactly how this goes.  Come January, the gym is packed.  You can’t find a treadmill or an elliptical.  You look around and wonder what the heck happened to your normal routine.  Then a few weeks later, the gym is back to it’s quite self and you can hop on just about any piece of cardio equipment your heart desires.

We all have best intentions in the New Year.  We want to make changes. We feel the pressure to make  these changes.  You think now is the time to lose that weight.  Now is the time to get healthy after a wild holiday season.

But what if we turned the tables?  What if we approached the holidays with a different mindset?  Take the notion of diets out of the picture.  If we stopped thinking that to be healthy we need to eliminate certain “bad” foods from our diet, and instead work to find a healthy balance, could we approach the holiday season from a different angle?  

Being healthy is a year round approach with splurge days along the way.  Food and drinks shouldn’t be “off limits,” but instead enjoyed in moderation.  Goals should lead us toward a life of happiness instead of a period of deprivation followed by a temporary phase where we feel “skinny” and accepted.

This holiday season, I am taking a healthy approach to exercise, eating, and well being.  I am going to enjoy exercise in moderation because it is a part of my life and it keeps me healthy.  I am going to focus on healthy eating and plan for some fun holiday celebrations along the way.

I have a special offer for you to join me in staying healthy and fit through the holidays.  Avoid the guilt from over indulgence.  Learn how to make small changes that lead to healthy results.  My Healthy Through the Holidays Plan is a 13 week program that begins next week and lasts through the first week of February.HealthyHolidayAd.jpg

Together we will explore simple ways to make moderate lifestyle changes that allow for both healthy eating and holiday indulgences.  We will practice ways to prepare for obstacles during parties and celebrations.  Learn how to prep meals to survive the holiday season a little easier.

Here’s what you receive for 13 weeks of Healthy Through the Holidays training:

Weekly newsletters and worksheets focusing on topics that will help keep you on track.

•Weekly personalized check-in e-mails from a Certified Health Coach to discuss your  personal nutrition and exercise needs.

•Simple, short, customized workouts that can be done throughout the day to fit your personal schedule.

•24/7 access to e-mail, phone and text to address all of your needs.

•Guilt free living to get you through the holiday season for 13 full weeks.  No need to make any resolutions!  My goal is for you to independently follow your healthy lifestyle after 13 short weeks.

•Nutrition, fitness, and behavioral approaches to ensure that we focus on the whole you; mind and body.

•Virtual training with unlimited phone calls, e-mails, and texts.

•Local participants can join me for a night of cocktails and weekly meal prep tutorial.  Stick around and dine!

Special holiday pricing of $150 for 13 weeks of Health Coaching and Training.

Sound like fun?  Reach out to me through my e-mail address or phone number on the website sidebar.

What is your best approach to surviving the holidays?   Do you tend to make resolutions?

 

Blue Apron For The Win

Happy Monday and congrats to all of the runners who had big races this weekend.  I had a blast tracking so many people at multiple marathons.  You guys are all rockstars!

A few weeks ago I saw a coupon code on Facebook (are you following me @runonhealthy?) for $40 off of your first order on Blue Apron.  I had read a few reviews on various blogs and I did a little Googling to see what other’s had to say.  I couldn’t find a bad review, so I decided to give it a try.

How it works:  I simply signed up online and gave them my credit card info plus my $40 coupon code.  Each week that you choose to use Blue Apron, you pick 3 meals to be delivered to you.  Each meal costs $9.99 per person for a total of $59.94 per week for 3 meals for two adults.  Meals are delivered at your door in an ice packed box every Friday.

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Inside the box you will find cards with directions and pictures.  All of the ingredients are also provided except for olive oil, salt, pepper, and water.  Otherwise you receive “knick knack” bags that include all spices and other essentials.

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You can skip weeks or put your orders on hold.  You also can earn free meals to share with friends.

What we got:  The first week we received 3 meals and I gave one of my meals to my brother and sister-in-law to try because we had a busy schedule and couldn’t make everything.  We received the Paprika Shrimp and Cheddar Grits, Spicy Hoisin Chicken Stir-Fry and Sloppy Joe’s.  We shared the Sloppy Joe’s and made the other two meals.

How it went:  The ingredients we received were of excellent quality.  Fresh corn on the cob, beautiful and plentiful shrimp, and perfectly picked produce were stocked in our refrigerator.  I’ve never used tomatillos before and had a blast trying new ingredients and spices.

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The directions were spot on and we were both pleasantly surprised by how delicious the meals were.  Both meals took about 20-30 minutes from prep to finish.  The cards we were provided with had excellent directions along with estimated cooking times and calorie content.

I wouldn’t regularly make grits but having made this once, I will absolutely recreate it again.  I love that we received meals and ingredients we typically wouldn’t make or try.  The stir fry was also of restaurant quality and we saved both recipe cards for later.

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Shrimp and Cheddar Grits

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Spicy Hoisin Stir Fry (you control the spice).

We made a second order:  The first time went so well that I made another order a few weeks later.  This time we received Pork Chops with Spicy Chow Chow, Seared Chicken with Caramelized Vegetables, and Basque-Style Cod.  This time we had three major winners!

I loved the Basque-Style Cod and enjoyed the chance to try freekeh (essentially a young wheat loaded with protein and fiber) for the first time.  The cod was topped with a delicious relish made of chopped parsley, garlic paste, olive oil, and chopped almonds.  The combination of flavors were new for me to use with a fish.  But I will be repeating this one again for sure.

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The Seared Chicken may have been my surprise favorite.  I absolutely loved the homemade, simple mashed potatoes topped with caramelized onion and fennel.  This is the perfect simple dinner to make for family and friends on a winter evening.

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Seared Chicken with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

I mentioned the spicy sweet potatoes that I loved with the pork chops in an earlier post.  You can find the recipe here.  I have made this quick and delicious side several times and love making extra for adding the leftovers to my salads.

The low down:  For about $60 a week you can receive restaurant quality meals delivered to your door.  I believe that for the price of food and delivery, you receive a great deal.  For the moment I have my orders on hold but will continue to order from time to time.

I was not contacted by Blue Apron.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this post.  If you would like to try this service out for yourself they are currently offering 3 meals free on your first order.

Have you ever tried Blue Apron or another meal delivery service?  

Accidentally Delicious Asparagus

I love asparagus.  It’s delicious when prepared properly and so incredibly good for you.  Needless to say, we eat it at many meals.  I am so glad my husband and daughter like it too.

This past Saturday we were getting ready to head out to the lake and Mary and I took off for a quick trip to the grocery store.  The plan was to keep it simple.  The idea was to do easy dinners on the grill and not buy a ton of ingredients or spend a lot of money.

I came across beautiful pork chops that were pre-seasoned and quickly gave my mom a call to see if my parents would like to join us.  The chops were on sale, seven for around $7.00.  All we needed to do was add a few quick sides.  I grabbed a salad kit (I love the chopped kale and brussels sprouts with pepitas and dried cranberries), and some asparagus.  Perfectly simple dinner.

While Rock was grilling the pork chops, I pulled out the asparagus, washed, and then chopped it.  You need to cut the stems off because they are hard and inedible.  Miss that step and you have a huge asparagus fail on your hands!

I looked in the cupboard and realized we didn’t have any spices at the house.  I typically love to throw a few spices with garlic and finish with some shaved parmesan.  But we were out of luck.  I once tried a recipe that called for maple syrup, but we both agreed that we didn’t like the finish of the flavors.

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So I threw something new in the pan and gave it a go.  My mom later told me that when she saw me making this, she was afraid she wouldn’t like it.  But everyone agreed that this was a winner.  This is such a simple and easy side that you can add to any meal.  The best part is that we had a little bit left over to throw on top of salads the next day for lunch.  The combination of vinegar and honey gives a tart and sweet finish all at once and the honey gives a nice caramelized finish to the veggies.

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus (rinsed and stems cut off)

Olive oil

1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 tablespoon Honey

Salt (to taste)

Directions:

In a pan, add the asparagus and a small amount of olive oil.  Begin to cook on medium high.  After 2-3 minutes, add in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of honey.  Toss to coat and allow to simmer.  The vinegar and honey will begin to caramelize, creating a beautifully sticky coating on the veggies.  Simmer until done (3-5 minutes).  Don’t let it go too long or it will go quickly from caramelized to charred.  Add a touch of salt to taste if you prefer.

Do you like asparagus?  What is your favorite way to prepare it?

A Perfectly Light Margarita

Last week I left you with a burrito bowl for the weekend.  This time I am leaving you with a perfect cocktail to round out that meal.  This drink has been requested by my husband, myself, and a few family members lately.  It is so easy, simple, and about as light as you can get with a margarita.  I just know you are going to love it!

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Ingredients:

2 ounces Tequila

1 ounce Triple Sec

Minute Maid 15 calorie lemonade

Lemon or Lime LaCroix (or other sparkling water)

Directions:

I’m a lazy bartender and that makes things easier for me.  I usually just fill a stemless wineglass with 4-5 cubes of ice.  Then count to four as you pour tequila in (I am a fan of a heavy pour when it comes to any drink).  Add two counts of triple sec.  Or you can simply do 2 parts tequila to 1 part triple sec.  Fill most of the remainder of your glass with lemonade and then add a splash of sparkling water.

The thing I like about this is that you can be your own bartender.  Do you like your margarita with a bit more kick in it?  Add a touch more tequila and go easy on the lemonade.  Prefer a lighter drink?  Go easy on the tequila and add more lemonade and sparkling water.

The sparkling water gives this a crisp and fresh finish.  And the best part is that you are skipping the margarita mix and tossing out all of those extra and unnecessary sugary additives.  You’ll never even notice!

Make it a mock-tail!  I loved this when I was pregnant because I still felt like I was joining in the summer cocktail fun.  In a stemless wine glass add 4-5 ice cubes.  Pour 2/3 lemon or lime sparkling water and then 1/3 lemonade.  It is almost as good as the real thing!

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Cheers!

Make it a Michigan Margarita!  Up here in Northwest Michigan we are known for cherries.  You may recall that we ran a race at the National Cherry Festival earlier this summer.  A few years ago we went to the most incredible food and wine pairing at the local culinary school.  Local vineyards brought their wines to be paired with various cuisines with cherry products (our favorite ended up being brats topped with cherry sauerkraut).  One vendor did a Michigan Margarita by adding a splash of Cherry liquer.  It was fantastic and a perfect twist.

What is your favorite drink to play bartender with?

Have a wonderful and safe Labor Day holiday in the U.S. and a great weekend wherever you are!

Friday Fiesta: Quick And Delicious Burrito Bowls

We are mostly unpacked and into our new home.  I love our kitchen and am so excited to start cooking again.  As we have been unpacking while chasing after a toddler, (can you believe she is a toddler?!) I wanted to make our first meal in our new home be both delicious and easy.  You might not find Chipotle up here.  But that’s okay.  I made a super fast (less than 30 minutes from start to finish) and rather inexpensive dinner that the entire family loved.  We have lots of leftovers and that is great because if you read down to the bottom, I will share with you a great and healthy way to use the leftovers in a different way.

As with almost all of my recipes, you can add or skip any of the ingredients.  Follow it loosely, or try it my way once, and then switch it up.  You know I love meat.  But this one could easily be done without.

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Ingredients:

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed

1 packet of taco seasoning (or make your own)

Olive oil (I used a lemon flavored one that paired super well with the seasoning)

2 cans low sodium black beans (rinsed and drained)

1 can corn (drained)

1 can garbanzo beans

2 jars salsa (any kind you like)

1 can fat free refried beans

1 package microwave brown rice

4 radishes

1 bunch cilantro

Fat free plain yogurt

Shredded cheddar or other cheese

Avocado

Directions:

Add your chicken, oil, and taco seasoning to a pan over medium high heat.  Cook until done (approximately 5-7 minutes).  Stir occasionally to make sure the meat is coated with seasoning and cooked thoroughly.

In another pan over medium high heat add your black beans, corn, garbanzo beans, and salsa.  Cook until warm (approximately 5 minutes).

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It seriously doesn’t get much easier than this!

Place the refried beans in a bowl and microwave until hot.  Microwave the brown rice.

Clean and slice your radishes and chop the cilantro.

In a bowl, add a layer of brown rice, followed by a layer of refried beans.  Add a layer of the veggie and salsa mixture.  Top with chicken.  Add radishes, cilantro, cheese, and avocado.  Top with a spoonful of yogurt.

This meal couldn’t be easier and there are so many awesome combinations you can create.  Even better, once the meal is done throw the chicken and bean mixture in a container together and refrigerate.

Leftovers!  The next day you can add these to a big bed of mixed greens for a perfect southwest chicken salad.  Throw a little cheese, radish, cilantro, and avocado on top and use salsa as your dressing for a super healthy lunch or dinner.

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Healthy Salad Eating Tip:  We all know that salad dressing is loaded with fat and calories.  But if you order a salad with the dressing on the side and chop it up really well first, you need far less dressing to cover the entire salad.  You will still get all of the flavor in every bite and never miss that extra dressing.   Give it a try and you will be amazed at what a difference it can make.

What would you add to your burrito bowl?  How do you feel about a burrito-less burrito bowl?