Friday, May 31, 2013

Nutrition Beets! Strawberries!


Y'all I'm really excited today! Want to know why? Tomorrow, June 1, marks the official start of STRAWBERRY SEASON! Strawberries will never taste any better than they do right now, June-August! Here in Madison they're found in abundance at the weekly farmer's market on the capital square. And nothing beats a locally grown, organic strawberry! Although I'm not usually an "all organic" kinda girl, when it comes to berries, I truly believe there is a difference in taste and texture. So go ahead and spend the extra dollar or two on organic berries this season, I guarantee you'll enjoy eating them more and they won't last long enough to rot in your fridge :)

The nutrition on strawberries? They're high in fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and have the sweet flavor of natural sugar. The fructose in strawberries is easily digested by your body because it recognizes it! Along with that, strawberries are rich in nitrate, which can increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles by nearly 7%! This helps prevent muscle fatigue while you are exercising, making it even easier for you to keep working out!

My favorite strawberry recipe is, of course, a smoothie! You can also find my go-to strawberry-Feta Salad Recipe HERE!

Market Fresh Strawberry Protein Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop, or packet, vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk


Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and BLEND. If you need to add more almond milk, do so little by little (1 TBSP at a time).


Enjoy :)
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Creamy Spinach Artichoke Chicken

I'd be lying if I didn't say I've been distracted this week... I found out that I got an interview for something that is so exciting!! I don't want to share more right now, but keep your fingers crossed!

Alas, no matter how distracted I am...food is never out of my mind. All of my recipes as of late have been (mostly) low starch, low fat and as natural as possible. I've found I feel a lot better, suffer from less bloat and don't ever get that stuffed feeling that I used to at mostly ever dinner.

Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken
Recipe Adapted from BusyGirlsEatClean on IG
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 can artichokes, sliced in thirds
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach, cooked
  • 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 3 chicken breasts
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a glass baking dish.
  • Mix yogurt, Dijon mustard and garlic salt together in a medium bowl.
  • Add artichokes and spinach. Stir until well combined.
  • Slice open the tops of the chicken and place in glass baking dish.
  • Stuff the spinach-artichoke mixture inside.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked completely through.
SERIOUS YUM!

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day Menu!

Hi all! And Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Let's take a minute to remember WHY we celebrate this holiday. It's not the sales, the weather or the food...it's our time to remember and honor the military men and women who have served and are still serving in the United States Armed Forces. I like to think that I do this more than just on a holiday weekend, but it's always good to have a reminder. You and I would not be here writing and reading blogs had it not been for those who fought for that freedom. God bless every military member, their family and friends. I know that I have a few specific people on my mind right now, and I hope you do too!

Beyond remembering, this weekend is also about celebrating! Celebrating the freedoms and our friends and family!! I'm far away from family, but close to many friends here in Wisconsin. So, I'm hosting a cookout on Sunday. Let's hope the weather stays nice enough to at least sit beside the pool!

Here are a few recipes I will be making!

Red, White and Blue Sangria

Ingredients:
  • 2 bottles dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good)
  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 1/2 cup berry-flavored vodka
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  •  1/4 cup Truvia
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple chunks

Directions:
  • Combine all ingredients together in a large pitcher or bowl. Allow to sit in refrigerator for at least 5 hours, if not all night. Then, serve in glasses being sure to allow everyone some fruit!
 
Simple Marinated Grilled Chicken

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing
  • Chicken Breasts
Directions:
  • Marinate chicken overnight in dressing.
  • Cook on the grill until done.
I know its super easy, but I can't get enough of this during the summer!! It's so good and reminds me of tailgating for football games!


Tone It Up Peanut Butter Bites

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup Natural Peanut Butter (creamy or smooth) (you can also use almond butter!)
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 1 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1 cup Diced Apricots
  • 1 cup Sliced Almonds

Directions:
  • In medium size pot, on lowest heat warm up the Honey & Peanut Butter until texture is smooth.  Mix in Apricots, Nuts and Oats.
  • Stir until all ingredients are well coated
  • Cool in fridge for at least 45 minutes
  • Roll into small bite sized balls (about 1 tbs)


Enjoy! I'll be posting pics on my Instagram! Check it out: CarpeTheSangria
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Nutrition Beets!

 
This is a new venture I'm doing on CarpeTheSangria! I've called it Nutrition Beets, mostly because it was so catchy and I could immediately see the image above. What is it? Every Friday I'm going to post a new Nutrition Beet. I'll be discussing all things food related, give you some nutrition information on it, plus a recipe to try! 
 
Since this weekend is Memorial Day, I wanted to feature something that I myself will be making for friends. And right now there's nothing I love more than JALAPENOS!
 
 
Jalapeno's are rich in Vitamin C, A and E, potassium and folic acid! And even better? They're spicy! The capsaicin in jalapenos is a natural thermogenic product, which means it heats up your body by consuming energy from it. In other words, it will give your overall metabolism a (little) boost, and adds a great flavor punch to your foods. The recipe below is a great way to reap the benefits of a slightly boosted metabolism, whereas consuming a deep fried jalapeno won't be giving you the same benefit.
 
Jalapeno Mango Salsa
Ingredients:
  • 1 mango- peeled and diced
  • 1 avocado - peeled and diced
  • 2 tomatoes - diced
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup red onion
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • (You can also add 1/2 cup fresh cilantro...I just happen to hate cilantro! I know, I'm crazy right?!)
Directions:
  • Mix the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, beans and garlic together(this is where you would add the cilantro too).
  • In a separate bowl, mix lime juice, red onion and olive oil.
  • Pour over mango mix and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let flavors set.
Serve with chips or as a topping to chicken or fish!

Are there any foods you're interested in knowing more about? Comment below and I'll feature it!
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wednesday Thoughts

There's so much I feel like I want to talk about today!!

First off, I was back early from my business trip yesterday so I was able to sleep in  my own bed (okay, futon...we'll fix that someday soon hopefully). That meant I could sleep in a little bit today and fit in a quick 20 minute walk to get my blood pumping this morning!

Second, everyone was so happy at work today. Between vacations, work trips and the pink eye I hadn't seen some of my coworkers in 2 weeks! It was great to catch up and b.s. around the office :) I may or may not have gone on 2 coffee runs as well...and happy hour with everyone. The group of friends I have found at my work are seriously the best. I enjoy every single one of them and feel blessed to have met them. Especially since I was transplanted into Madison without knowing anyone!

Third, have you seen this video? Please watch it. It's 20 minutes and I guarantee you will feel uplifted and inspired. Maybe that's why I had such a good day today? May angels lead you in, Zach. http://www.upworthy.com/this-kid-just-died-what-he-left-behind-is-wondtacular-rip

Fourth, I had an awesome workout. I can really feel my abs getting stronger! I used to shake a lot more when I would do planks and plank variations...but not anymore! It takes at least 2 rounds for my stomach to start twitching. That's a really big win in my book!!

Tryin' to get abs by summer! :)

BONUS: A rundown of my day. I also really want to know how K&K had the courage to start their business. Always been curious about that one.
 Have a great night y'all!
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Power Packed Beans Recipe

I love my friends. One of them emailed me today and said "I'm hungry...where's that Power Packed Beans recipe? You made it but I didn't see it up on the blog." First, I love that she's reading (yes, YOU BE!) And second, I love that she wants my recipes. So, in honor of her...

Power Packed Beans
Recipe originally adapted from Tone It Up.
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey (be sure to buy at least 92% lean turkey)
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Roma tomato
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3/4 can tomato paste (6oz sized can)
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper (I like spice though, so I probably ended up adding a total of 1 tbsp.)
Directions:
  • Cook turkey on medium heat in large pan until it is fully cooked.
  • Add beans, tomato, green pepper and onion. Simmer for 3 minutes. Stir, simmer another 5 minutes.
  • Add seasonings and tomato paste and stir. Allow to simmer 5 minutes.
  •  Serve with brown rice! I use that super easy minute rice and its great!
 
I managed to get a pretty good workout in today, and ate dinner on my bed. But only because there's literally no where else to eat in this hotel room! For the rest of the week I plan on day dreaming about the pool at the apartment complex and how I am longing to drink sangria beside it... ahh, soon enough I suppose.
 
 
 
I grew up by the pool, it's only natural that I feel this way!!
 
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Touché Target, Touché

Have you seen this commercial? It literally makes me cry.
 

Okay, so it doesn’t make me cry anymore. But it does tug at my heart. The raw video of kids at the mailbox, or sitting in front of their email remind me of what it was like. What it felt like when I was 18 and found out I had been accepted to my dream school, Penn State MAIN CAMPUS for Nutritional Sciences. Sure, I wasn’t the first kid to go to college in my family--but that didn’t make it any less awesome. What you may not know, is that my entrance to PSU wasn’t as glamorous as you think.
 
I originally applied to Penn State as a business major (yah, no idea what I was thinking!). The first acceptance packet I received was from a BRANCH CAMPUS. I went to the mailbox, saw the return address was NOT from my main campus dream, opened it up, and collapsed to the floor when I read I had been accepted, to the branch location. “WHAT??” is all I could think. How could this happen? I was in the top 10% of my class, got a pretty decent SAT score, and applied super early... so I did what any girl would do. Cried for 15 minutes, then called my brother sobbing. My brother is Mr. Perfect and always does things right the first time. I’m the 2nd, not so perfect, learn from a ton of mistakes child. I asked him what I should do. And he said, “Jess, do you really want to major in business?" Of course I said no. By this time I had already shadowed a dietitian and decided I would be switching my major to nutrition immediately. He then gave me the best advice ever. Re-apply. It was quick and painless since they already had all of my transcripts and essays. Within 1 week of that day, I was accepted to Penn State Main Campus. That time at the mailbox was A LOT more enjoyable than the first.

Being weird with my brother.
Maybe that’s why Target’s commercial really hits home for me. It’s not that I went to college. It’s that I fought my way into the college of my dreams. I didn’t let the word no stop me. Looking back, it was a great lesson to learn at the age of 18 and something that has changed the way I approach my life. If I always listened to the word no, I would not be where I am today. I would have believed that student advisor of mine when she told me that I would never get an internship. I would have never been accepted to the PSU program, and I would not be a dietitian. I wouldn’t live in Wisconsin with my boyfriend and have these great dreams of doing something that matters in the world. So you see, being told no doesn’t mean that’s it. It means you have to fight for what you want and prove you are worth every chance someone will take on you.
 
If you’re not-so-perfect like me, it means you have scars to prove you fought your way to where you are. And you’ll keep fighting to get what you want.

Enjoy your weekend!
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why I LOVE Hampton Inn's

Joe-Joe made me promise not to watch Scandal without him, so here I sit, watching a re-run of NCIS on USA instead of my obsession. Ah, the compromises of relationships.

Anyhow, today was another productive yet boring day all rolled into one. Traveling for work means a lot of down time in the hotel room where I check email and try to be productive, only to find there's nothing to work on. So, I decided to workout instead.

Actually, I started my day the way all normal people do...by getting the free hotel breakfast and stealing a second cup of coffee to take up to my room while I watched Kelly and Michael. #YOLO.


Next, I did my work! And traveled further up north in Wisconsin. I'm staying at a Hampton Inn, and man, they have a really good workout room too. Combined with their bedding, it's why I always choose Hampton Inn's...wait, they have free breakfast in the morning too! With some awesome oatmeal! Okay, so I just love Hampton Inn's in general. For all of the above reasons and their delicious cookies they put out by the front desk (whoops, I'll pay for that cookie tomorrow!).


After working out in the fitness center I decided I needed some vitamin D in my life, so I took it outside to lunge it out. I'm really enjoying seeing my legs get more muscle and less fat. It's pretty awesome.


And after that, I soaked my toes in the pool and talked to my mom and dad on the telephone.


Now, cheers to tomorrow being Friday!!
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Traveling and a Recipe

Hey guys! How are you doing? I'm traveling around Wisconsin over the next 3 days and missing my bed, routine, and pantry. For this trip I packed a couple of meals and snacks, but wasn't planning on 2 overnights, so I'll run out of food tomorrow. Here's what I brought with me:

  • Fresh cut veggies: Carrots, Yellow Pepper, Green Pepper
  • Hummus: Chili Pepper and Jalapeno Cilantro
  • Fruit: Strawberries and Pineapple
  • Salad: Topped with Mushrooms and Roasted Pork Loin
  • Shrimp Stir Fry
  • Muesli Bars
  • Protein Pancake

Now that I typed it all out it seems like so much! Which makes sense, because it took me an hour to prep everything last night.

I worked out this afternoon in the hotel gym where they had the COOLEST machines!! They were touch screen and had the TV playing in them. You could see everything all at once which made the elliptical easy for this ADD runner to do. Yes, I think I have ADD when running. If there's nothing to look at or distract myself I get bored and want to quit. What about you? Is the treadmill challenging for you too?


After I did a mile on the elliptical and 3 on the bike, I did the Tone It Up Thighs routine. Killer workout especially after doing a lot yesterday! I'm not letting my itchy eyes keep me down :)

Heating up dinner in the lobby!

And, it would be mean of me to leave you without this amazing tropical cake recipe...so here you go!

Tropical Lime Cake! (Makes 6-8 Servings)
Ingredients:
  •  1/3 cup (2 packs) Perfect Fit Protein
  •  1 cup Almond Flour
  •  1/4 cup Ground Flax Seed
  •  1 tsp Baking Powder
  •  1/4 cup Truvia (or a Stevia of your choice)
  •  1 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  •  2 Eggs
  •  1/2 cup Lime Juice
  •  1/4 cup Almond Milk
  •  3/4 cup Chopped Fresh Pineapple
Directions:
  •  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  •  Combine all liquid ingredients together in one bowl, and all dry ingredients together in another bowl.
  •  Blend liquid ingredients, then slowly add dry ingredients. Continue until well combined.
  •  Pour into greased glass baking dish. 
  • Cook on 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes.
 
 
Need a topping? Make my Greek Yogurt Frosting by combining 1/2 cup Fat Free Greek Yogurt, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tbsp agave nectar.
 
Enjoy! And head over to Perfect Fit's Facebook page and tell them how much you love it!
 

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Where Have I Been on the Weekends?

Hey guys!! I've been going MIA recently on the weekends and I'm sure you've been wondering where I have been!

Two weekends ago, Joe-Joe and I traveled to Memphis, TN to visit friends. We drove through the night which was less than fun in the never-ending rain! 10 hours later, we arrived in Memphis and immediately took naps. But then other friends arrived and we got up, had fried chicken at Gus's (which is a pretty famous place) and relaxed as we waited for a few more to show up. Friday night we explored Beale Street in the rain. Saturday, we explored it in the sun! I found $200 on the ground that day which made the trip even better!! I bought the BBQ for lunch, since I was now rich, and even let Joe buy some sauce to bring back with us. After that we went home and played some yard games, cooked out and enjoyed hanging out like we used to in college (super nostalgic weekend, made me miss PSU so much!!). Here are some pictures!
Pretending we're still in college!

My love.

Love this pic! Joe and I holding hands walking down Beale.
The view leaving Memphis!
This past weekend my parents, brother and dog came to visit!!! We went camping in Iowa on the Mississippi and it was beautiful! The weather, once again, didn't cooperate. It was so windy which made sitting by the fire hard. But, I was with my family so it was still a great time! I was also able to be with my mom on mother's day...love her! Here are a few pictures!
 
My mom, dad and dog Vinny!

Vinny!!
To end the weekend, I decided why not get pink eye?! Ah, yes. I haven't had pink eye since the 10th grade and I really forget how awful it is. I'm wanting to scratch all day and nobody wants to come close to my face. Joe-Joe warned me to stay away from his pillow or else all through the night. So, while I'm quarantined I've planned my meals for the rest of the week and cleaned the kitchen!

Hope you guys have a great week!! 
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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Things I'm Loving Right Now...

For lack of a better post, today I'm going to share some of the things I'm obsessed with on a daily basis!! I'd love for you to share some of your favorites too!
  • Chapstick - and more specifically, the eos brand from Target! Sweet mint is on my desk at work, in my purse and by my bed. I can't help it, I love well nourished lips!

  • Truvia - this is a no-brainer. I talk about it all the time and I store it like a grandma in all of my bags.
  • Bronzer - I'm loving my Bare Minerals Splendor Pack that I got a month or so ago. It blends the perfect amount of dark with gold shimmer on my cheeks....now if the sun would come tan me already maybe I wouldn't need to use so much!

  • Van's Gluten-Free Waffles - it's the perfect option for a light breakfast bread. I don't like to feel sluggish at my desk, and these don't do this. Slap on some almond butter, or an egg white and I am golden!

  • EnergyBITS - ENERGYYYY.  I get my energy every afternoon no problem-o from these bad boys.

  • Tone It Up - They're so motivating, and I'm really excited for everything the #bikiniseries is doing for me!

  • This Blog - What can I say? I love hearing from y'all and reading your posts too!! When someone says that they enjoy my recipes I'm more than excited!!

What are you loving??

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Monday, May 6, 2013

On Splenda and Why It Makes You Fat

My last post led to some real excitement about my Splenda knowledge, so here I am, and I'm going to tell you why people say "Splenda makes you fat."

Splenda, and all artificial non-nutritive sweeteners (0 calorie sweeteners not made from a natural source), are created to be more sweet than natural sugar. This is the precise reason why it makes you "fat." Consuming artificially created non-nutritive sweeteners increases your taste buds tolerance of sweetness. Essentially you get a really big rush of sweetness whenever you consume these products. Then, when you eat something that contains natural sugar you don't get that same rush. In turn you eat MORE because your taste buds are craving that fake-sugar high that it gets when you choose diet or sugar-free options. Repeated exposure to artificial sweeteners trains your flavor preference and encourages sugar cravings and dependence.

Luckily, sugar dependence is just like salt dependence...YOU have the power to kick the habit. It takes an average of 30 days to train your taste buds to enjoy different flavors. I always tell clients who have high blood pressure or heart disease that they can learn to unlike salt, and in the same way, you can learn to unlike artificial sweeteners. Make the effort by clearing out your cupboard of all the fake stuff and replacing it with natural alternatives. My favorite natural alternative is Stevia (Truvia is my favorite brand). Although this is a non-nutritive sweetener (meaning no calories), it is made from a natural source. It doesn't "blow out" your taste buds like the artificial products do. And, if you're not afraid of the calories, replace your Splenda habit with a teaspoon of sugar. It will take a few days, and maybe even up to 30 for your taste buds to realize that the teaspoon of sugar is sweet...but it will be worth it!

Craving something sweet tonight?  Try my super easy recipe for strawberry ice cream!

This is not my photo, but its the same color of how mine turned out!
Ingredients:
3 cups Frozen Strawberries, Sliced
1/2 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
1 scoop Perfect Fit Protein
 
Directions:
Blend all ingredients together in your blender. If the 1/2 cup Almond Milk isn't enough to get the strawberries blending, add more, just a little bit at a time. After you have blended the mixture, put in a container and freeze for at least 1 hour before scooping!
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Road Trip Tips

Hi guys! How are you doing? Great I hope!! I know I'm doing awesome...over the past week I've lost 4.5 inches (between my waist, hips and thighs) and 5 pounds all because of the Bikini Series and ACTUALLY eating clean. Check out my last post for the best tips I have put together on How To Eat Clean!

Anywho, Joe and I are driving down to Memphis, TN today!! I am so excited to meet up with our college friends and to explore a new city. Anyone ever been to Memphis??

Because it's the Bikini Series, I plan on eating as clean as possible and as close to the TIU Nutrition Plan as I can. I have already packed our snacks for the road, and prepped my Protein Pancakes and Bombshell Spell for the mornings!

What's good to pack for a car ride? YUMMY FOOD! It has to be yummy because you're battling all of the McDonald's, Arby's and Wendy's at every rest stop. Here is a list of what I have packed:

  • Apple Slices - Make sure to precut them, you're more likely to eat it if its an easy snack to pick up.
  • Almond Butter - For apple dipping, of course!
  • Kiwi and Strawberry Salad - I had to pack a fork for this one, but I mainly packed it so that the fruit wouldn't spoil while we are away. This is a great way to use up any fruit that is in your fridge.
  • Carman's Muesli Bars - You can find them here: http://www.carmanskitchen.com.au/our-products/bars . I love these bars!! They are high fiber, high protein and low sugar. A perfect on-the-go snack.
Another staple of any road trip for me is COFFEE. I get so much enjoyment out of a nice warm (or cold) cup. This time around I already know what I will be picking up: Starbuck's Large Iced Coffee with Soy. Always ask for it unsweetened and add your own Stevia :) The soy milk they use is vanilla and sweetened, so it pretty much tastes like a cold latte. If I go for a hot version, I put skim milk in it. I don't know why, but I hate Vanilla Soy in hot coffee. Weird, I know. And I can't stress this enough, ALWAYS bring your own sweetener. There's nothing worse than putting Splenda into your clean diet...it's not natural and will make you crave super sweet stuff more often. Maybe I should do a post on the science behind that? I love talking about the science behind the notion that "Splenda makes you fat."

Now I know coffee makes you have to go to the bathroom a lot, but luckily Joe-Joe doesn't mind stopping. He likes to stretch his knees out haha. And I've built up a really good tolerance for driving 4 hours without stopping. Big shout out to my dad on that one. The last time we made the drive from Hershey, PA to Madison, WI we only stopped 3 times. It's a 13 hour drive. BAM!

But I'd love to know, what are your best road trip tips??
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