Monday, February 28, 2011


If any of you eat lasagne at a restaurant, I hope you know you're ingesting at least 1500 calories. However, I do know that many of you care more about the authenticity of the dish as opposed to the caloric content. On the other hand, if you read this blog, you're reading because you want healthier versions of food than the ones you are currently eating, for the most part. Anyway, I really enjoyed this meal. I'm not a huge fan of lasagne, but my hubby likes it so I wanted to change things up and make it for him.

GF brown rice lasagne noodles, about 14 oz box
1 pkg of grass-fed ground beef
1 28 oz can of tomato puree/sauce
4 garlic cloves, at least, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
big handful of spinach, fresh
1 onion, chopped
mushrooms and whatever else you want in the dish
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 T chopped basil
red pepper
1 small carton reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 egg
1 small bag mozzarella cheese, part skim

For the sauce:
Brown the meat and drain the fat, if any. Add garlic and all veggies and saute until onions are clear. Add the tomato sauce and herbs, salt and pepper.

For the cheese:
Whisk the ricotta cheese and the egg along with a pinch of pepper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil the pasta according to directions. Layer sauce on bottom of 13x9 inch glassware, thinly. Layer noodles. Layer ricotta cheese, then sauce, then mozzarella. Continue in this order, finishing with mozzarella cheese. Spray aluminum foil with zero fat cooking spray and cover the dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes.

I seriously completely winged this recipe. I have never made lasagne before, but I've eaten it before and I definitely liked this dish. So, if you have some kind of disagreement with the preparation because it's not the way Italians do it or whatever, just remember my goal is to make a healthy meal, not to make an authentic Italian dish. :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

bbq chicken sandwiches

I hate barbecue, and Jake isn't a fan either. However, I remember back when I was kid, we would always go to Sonny's BBQ in Florida, and I loved their barbeque chicken. Omigoodness it was soo delicious. However, I've never had good barbeque outside of that, besides the barbeque at our wedding, which was served by Shane's Rib Shack, which was also quite delicious. The other day, I got a hankering for some tasty barbeque sandwiches. I used my handy dandy "Now Eat This" recipe by Rocco Dispirito for bbq sauce, and poured it over some roasted chicken. Yum! Next time, I will puree some jalapeno into my onion puree before mixing it into the sauce for a little extra kick.

For those of you who aren't familiar with roasting chicken, you simply buy a whole chicken from the store, about 2.5 pounds, rinse it out and off, dry it off with a paper towel, salt and pepper it slightly, stick it in the oven preheated to 425 degrees, and set the timer for 50 minutes. Pull the chicken apart with your fingers and toss the carcass.

1.5 cup Heinz all natural ketchup
1/2 cup onion-garlic puree
   *1 onion roughly chopped, 9 garlic cloves chopped, 1/2 cup water, microwaved for 10 minutes covered in saran wrap, then pureed with food processor until smooth.
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 T dijon mustard
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 T molasses
2 tsp cane sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp powdered garlic
pinch of pepper and salt
2 T liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to simmer then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is thick, which will be about 30 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the pulled chicken. Pull out some gluten free buns (I used The Flourless, Grainless Baker which are great) and put some shredded lettuce and whatever else you want on the sandwiches. Pile on the chicken and you've got a wonderful, healthy, low sugar, almost non-fat bbq chicken sandwich. Yum!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

home-made granola "bars"

I have this friend, Sam, who is probably one of the most talented athletes I've ever known. Well, he came up with a recipe for his "energy bars" and they were so delicious I had to make them. I simply changed them from white chocolate to dark chocolate and changed up the nuts and seeds and cereal in order to fit my preferences a little more. These are so healthy. I have so many people ask me what the healthiest protein bar is or the healthiest energy bar or granola bar. My answer? None you can find in the store. Sure, there might be some healthy boutique bars at health food stores, but all the ones I've tried I've had to spit out and rinse my mouth out with whatever I had on hand to get the terrible taste out of my mouth. These on the other hand, are all-natural, natural protein, yumminess, and they're so easy!


2 eggs
2 bananas
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup almonds slightly crushed
1/2 cup craisins
1/2 cup gluten free cereal, I used brown rice cereal
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/8 cup pine nuts or sunflower seeds
1/8 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup peanuts
1/4 cup walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix banana, egg, honey, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until banana is pureed.
2. Mix in almonds, craisins, cereal, and all seeds and nuts.
3. Mix in oats and let the mixture soak into the oats for 5 minutes.
4. Fill in a cupcake sheet patting each down until level with the top.
5. Bake in oven at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.


3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 heaping tbsp peanut butter

1. Microwave chocolate and peanut butter in glass or porceline bowl for 90 seconds ( make sure to check it and stir it a couple times). Mix to make it smooth and melt.
2. Spread chocolate on top of bars while bars are cooling.
3. Let them cool for a few hours until chocolate is hard.

I like to keep these on hand, in the fridge at home or at work, so that I don't let my energy crash. These will stay good, tightly covered for about a week or a little more. Or, you can freeze them and take out however many you will eat for the next few days and keep those in the fridge so the rest don't go bad. Give these a try, I guarantee you will like them!! Healthiest granola bars you will ever eat!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

healthier mac and cheese

Adapted from: Rocco Dispirito's lightened up mac 'n cheese

I have tried many lightened up versions of recipes, and am disappointed with the way the food turns out, more often than not. However, I bought the book, Now Eat This, by Rocco Dispirito. This guy can seriously make bad-for-you food better for you, and actually maintain the good, comforting taste. One of his recipes I tried last night is his macaroni and cheese, and it was pretty delicious. I won't lie, I haven't eaten macaroni and cheese since before I was a teenager, so I'm not much of a connoisseur on it, but this was pretty darn tasty.

nonstick cooking spray
8 oz. rice macaroni noodles
1/2 cup onion garlic puree (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    (cabot 50% less fat to be healthier)
1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup GF breadcrumbs
     (GF panko to make it crunchier)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

onion garlic puree:
In a microwaveable bowl, place 1 roughly chopped yellow onion, 9 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 cup of water. Cover tightly with saran wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Remove wrap carefully, and puree in a processor until smooth.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Boil rice macaroni noodles according to directions.
3. While pasta is cooking, bring onion-garlic puree, mustard, and cayenne to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in the cheddar until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt.
4. In medium bowl, toss macaroni with the cheese sauce to coat thoroughly. Season with salt to taste. Pour the macaroni into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the panko or breadcrumbs over the top, along with the parmigiano reggiano.
5. Bake until cheese has melted and macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes.

steak chimichurri

I'm a big fan of steak. No, I don't really like it because red meat for some reason just doesn't taste very good to me... but I'm a fan of the protein and iron that steak is packed with. This recipe is also loaded with antioxidants and doesn't have much sodium at all since it is topped with cilantro and parsley. As usual, the more spices and herbs added, the less salt necessary to make the dish taste good. This recipe only takes a few minutes... 3-4 minutes per side for the steaks on the grill and during that time, you can make the topping for them so that's pretty much 8 minutes! Now tell me you don't have time to make dinner! That's right, you can't.

Sauce: (this will be enough for about 4 steaks)
1/2 cup cilantro
1/2 cup parsley
3 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T water
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Blend all sauce ingredients together in food processor and put on top of steaks, once steaks are off the grill.

Season steaks with salt and pepper and grill for about 3-4 minutes per side, or to desired doneness.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Curry me happy

As you all know since I say it all the time, I hate veggies. I can't eat artificial crap because I just can't digest it. I have a super busy life. I love foods so hot they set my mouth on fire. Because of all this, I love this curry.

My mom used to make me Golden Curry pretty often, since she could disguise the veggies and meat with the thick and tasty sauce. This jar of curry is my grown up, healthy version of that box of curry my mom would make for my brother and I. This jar was only $4.29 at Farm Fresh, and you can prepare it in 10 minutes. You simply add the veggies and meat or whatever you want. I use shrimp or chicken and add mushrooms, spinach, onions, garlic, red peppers and carrots. You can do whatever you want with this. I am so happy I stumbled across this jar of goodness, mostly just to show you guys something wonderful you can make in a hot minute when you really don't feel like cooking because you've worked a 15 hour shift and need to go work out for an hour. You can even cut all your veggies up the night before, put in the fridge, and pull it out and dump it in when you get home from work. Walah. Easy! I believe this brand also comes in coconut, and a mild version... if you have a gluten intolerance, make sure to check the other labels because this is the only one I know for sure to be gluten free.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

peanut butter crispies

I LOVE peanut butter. I also love rice crispy treats. I found a recipe for these treats in a Woman's Day magazine, and just spruced them up a tad. Enjoy these because there is almost no sugar, being sweetened with molasses and honey, and they also have protein and fiber!

1 11.5 oz box crispy brown rice cereal (I use Koala Crisp)
2/3 cup natural Peanut Butter- remember, no extra stuff, just peanuts in the ingredients!
2/3 cup honey
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted

Combine the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and chocolate in a saucepan then add to the cereal and mix. Spread into a 13x9 pan or smaller. Cut and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

cooking with Gass: Dad's chili!!!!!!!!

I'll admit, this isn't really my Dad's chili. My parents don't write down anything they make, which is one of my biggest motives for making this blog. However, Dad makes the best chili I've ever had. He told me everything he puts in his chili, and I simply took some stuff out and added some of my own ingredients. It's not as great, but I guess you guys would never know :) I love the way chili is so healthy and heart-warming on a chilly day. I do like chicken chili, but I try to eat red meat once a week since I'm still trying to get my iron level to increase. This chili is packed with protein, lycopene, potassium, metabolism boosting peppers, and tons of antioxidants from spices.

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp hot pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
1 anaheim pepper
1 hot cherry pepper
1 cup water
2 T Frank's red hot sauce

Brown the beef, and drain the fat. Add onion and all ingredients through cayenne pepper. Put the mixture into crock pot, on low (or high if you are going to eat it in an hour). Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, and allow to sit until you are ready to eat, at least 1 hour.

How easy is that! No excuses for those of you who say you work all day and have no time to cook. If I go in at 5 AM and won't be home until 4 PM, this kind of thing is my go-to for dinner. Get all the ingredients ready the day before (saute the meat, onions and spices and put in fridge) and throw them together in the crock pot in the morning, turned on low, and run out the door knowing you've got a healthy, hearty dinner ready when the family gets home.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

anti-illness cocktail

I work in the health/fitness industry. As you can imagine, I come across several people, which can also be interpreted as lots of germs. We spray down everything and clean whatever can be touched after workouts and sanitize and wash our hands throughout the day, but germs still spread. I also have family members and friends I see each day, who are often sick. I say this without worrying about being "jinxed." I have not been sick all year (with a cold or flu virus).

What's my secret? I drink at least one glass of the mixture above each day. It is made up of 1/2 cup of water, ice, and 1/2 cup of diet sierra mist cranberry splash, and 1 tube of the off-brand of emergen-c, pink lemonade flavored. I also eat at least 2 mandarin oranges throughout the day, as well as pineapple slices. I take a multi-vitamin mainly rich in B vitamins, C, zinc, and folic acid. Most important, I exercise 6 days per week. That's 5 days of lifting for 30-40 minutes, and 1-2 hours of cardio per day, as well as 90 minutes of hot yoga twice each week. Exercise is the most important thing you can do in order to not get sick! Well, besides washing your hands. In a study done in 2007, 70% more employees who did not engage in physical activity everyday got sick and called out of work over those who did engage in physical activity. If you really want to know all the nerdy stats, let me know and I'll share my 20 something page paper from college with you. Anyway, exercise strengthens the immune system!

So lesson overview: fruits, multi-vitamin, vitamin c supplement, sanitize hands, and exercise!!!

this for that. no excuses!

Speaking for myself, I know I get cravings for things that will blow my entire day's worth of calories, and then some. At times, I will get the urge to have a cup of Coldstone ice cream. Now that that craving only occurs once in a while, I will get it and not feel guilty. When I say once in a while, I mean once a month I will have this need to get some creaminess, not once every week or every few days. For those of you who haven't gotten your cravings to stop occurring every day or once a week, here are some pointers, which I still happily use since the alternatives are so delicious. When you get a craving for something, just use one of the substitutes and you will feel just as satisfied!

bad: chips and queso/ good: carrots and hummus or celery and guacamole
bad: fries/ good: sweet potato fries, baked
bad: breading/ good: chopped nuts or oats then baked, not fried
bad: potato chips/ good: sliced, pam sprayed and baked potatoes sprinkled with parmesan cheese
bad: milkshake/ good: skim milk, chocolate syrup (or strawberries or vanilla extract) and lots of ice blended
bad: frappuccino/ good: coffee, milk, ice, raw sugar and flavored syrup blended
bad: ice cream/ good: make you own with milk and agave or honey
bad: regular cakes/ good: make your own with coconut oil or apple sauce and high fiber flours
bad: candy bars/ good: homemade granola bars or peanut butter and honey on banana
bad: peanut butter with oils/ good: peanut butter with nothing else but peanuts!!
bad: cranberry vodka/ good: club soda, vodka, and a splash of cranberry
bad: sweet tea/ better: half sweet half un-sweet tea

Let me know what you're cravings are and I will come up with something to replace it with! Oh, and remember if you don't indulge heavily, you are okay sticking with the same thing. In my experience however, I would get a bowl of ice cream every time I craved it, which was 3 times per week. Back then I had to replace them with protein shakes so that I wouldn't over indulge. Same thing with chips... remember these small handfuls of things add up. You eat 1 handful of chips, which can be 300 calories once a day for 10 days, you've gained almost a pound or more!!


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

pumpkin waffles

I had to make something special for Jake's breakfast one morning, since it always seems to be scrambled eggs. I was feeling extra nice a few days ago and decided on pumpkin waffles. These were super yummy, and great topped with REAL maple syrup. It only took me about 15 minutes to whip up so don't worry about having to wake up too much earlier, and remember, breakfast is worth it... especially a yummy treat every now and then. My mom used to wake me up with waffles covered with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and chocolate syrup about 2 or 3 mornings per week before school. I tell you what, that woman is awesome. But anyway, I didn't want to make these too over the top considering he gets over the top food a little too often at work :)

1 3/4 cup GF flour
3 T light brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 T pumpkin pie spice (2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp clove)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 egg
2 T pear sauce (or apple sauce)
2 T cider vinegar

Blend all dry ingredients, then blend all wet ingredients. Mix the wet into the dry then place about 1/2 cup onto waffle maker for about 4 minutes. You can also make these into pancakes simply by putting them onto a griddle and cooking for 2 minutes on each side. If desired, you might want to sweeten the mixture a little by decreasing the amount of milk and adding that much apple cider.

Monday, February 7, 2011

garlic and herb rubbed steak

I dedicate this recipe to my dad, who makes some of the best steak. I usually marinate mine, but this was kind of a last minute meal, so I just rubbed it with some tasty stuff and threw it on the grill. For me, this was my post-workout protein-packed meal, and it was perfect.

2 boneless ribeyes (you can also use filet mignon or whatever you want)
5 crushed garlic cloves
1.5 tsp basil
1.5 tsp thyme
1.5 tsp rosemary
.5 tsp salt
.5 tsp black pepper
1.5 T balsamic vinegar

Mix together everything except for the steaks. Rub the mixture onto the steaks and allow to rest while the grill heats. Grill on medium-high for about 5 minutes per side, for medium-rare steaks. Delicious!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

it's never too late, to run big

I have the Virginia is for Lovers 14k coming up, this upcoming Saturday. The only thing is, I haven't had a single long run in... I don't know... months? So this morning I decided to do one first and final long run before the race. I stepped outside armed with my Nike + gear and my husband on the bike next to me. We were sort of planning on just doing the 3 mile loop we usually do when we don't feel like going all the way out to Seashore or to Mt. Trashmore. However, at the 2/3 point, there is an entrance into the next neighborhood over, which would tack on another 3 miles at least...we weren't sure. I was feeling pretty good, so we headed for the entrance and just kept on going. I love the Nike+ pace calculator watch a little more so than my Garmin, simply because I'm not checking my pace every minute. I thoroughly enjoy counting down the miles instead, because I surprise myself on each run at how long I can actually last.

I ran fresh to the finish. My numbers? 5.69 miles in 44:19. That's an average of 7:47 per mile pace! Sure, that's not very fast and certainly not very far, but hey, at least I know I can at least hold a sub 8 mile pace for the 14k next weekend. Bring. It. On. 

orange pineapple coconut smoothie (best homemade smoothie by far!!)

Jake and I loooove smoothies. They're quick and easy for your in-between meals to make sure you are taking in enough calories and protein, as well as fruit and veggie servings throughout your day. We are forever experimenting with our smoothies. None are ever bad, but none have ever turned out this amazing. I am super proud of myself for this one. There is a smoothie place in the mall that has this same smoothie and I have been trying to copy it for the longest time, because I can probably sit there and drink a gallon of it because it's just that delicious. Success! Here it is:

2/3 cup frozen pineapple
1 small mandarin orange
handful flaked coconut, or more depending on how much liquid you desire
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 large scoop vanilla soy protein powder
1 tsp raw cane sugar

Blend and fall in love!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

2/1/11 workout

Training day! Today is all about speed work. It will be 5600 meters of running as fast as I can maintain for 1600, 1200, 800, 400 with 400 meters of active recovery between each distance.

A few hours before this training, I'll do a chest and back routine. Supersets!

Have a great workout day... it's the first of the month so treat it like New Year's Day if you've fallen through with your resolution and need to get motivated again. Just do it!

butternut squash and apple soup

Butternut squash is so healthy. I have always wanted to eat it and like it, but have never had it made in a way that I would, until recently. My friend Matt, who makes dinner for all of his friends made a soup very similar to this for dinner the other night. It was so absolutely delicious that I just had to try to make it again. I guess it would have been much more simple to ask him for his recipe, but instead I had to browse through the internet and look through ingredients and find something that looked remotely appealing. I landed on this recipe from Ina Garten on the Food Network.
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup on the Food Network

The only thing I changed was my addition of a pinch of cayenne pepper and a pinch of ginger powder. I also used 3 cups of apple cider instead of 2. This was such a delicious bowl of soup and I've got so much of it left over that I'll be quite warm and happy for a few days :)

oven-fried fish, buffalo-style! ...or not

Fried fish is definitely one of my favorite foods. My mom likes to fry it in grease, and I'm not going to lie, she makes the best fish in the world. However, this recipe is my rendition of a healthy "fried" fish meal. If you don't like buffalo flavor, just don't put Frank's Red Hot Sauce into the egg mixture and you've still got delicious fried fish.

2 eggs
2 T Frank's hot sauce
2 T milk
1/2 cup GF corn meal
1/2 cup GF all purpose flour
pinch oregano
pinch salt
pinch pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch garlic powder
2 lbs. fish fillets, thawed if previously frozen

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Blend eggs, milk and hot sauce in small bowl. Blend cornmeal, flour, and spices in small bowl. Dip fish fillet into egg mixture, then corn meal mixture then into egg mixture again (if desired). Place onto baking dish and bake for 20 minutes until fish are crispy. Serve this over a bed of brown rice (as shown) or with steamed veggies.