Back in the Swing of Things

I think I’ve finally adjusted to my new summer routine. My schedule has been a lot less demanding over the past week so I’ve been able to cook and exercise. I am still having a little bit of trouble resisting deserts, but hey, I exercised every morning last week at 6 am! That deserves a little treat right? I guess so, but I’ve let myself go a little crazy in the desert department the past few days. I think I’ve decided I’m going to go at least two weeks without desert. No chocolate, no ice cream, no cookies, no cake, except maybe on the fourth of July, but that’s it. The only “sweets” I’m going to allow are fruit, cocoa dusted almonds, and the fiber one bars that I have as a morning snack sometimes. We’ll see how it goes. In between all the sweet treats I’ve been rewarding myself with I have been cooking some yummy meals. Here ya go!

Mini Veggie Quiche
I have been wanted to make my own quiche for over a year now, and I finally did it! For some reason I thought it was going to be difficult, but it was so simple. I cut this recipe in half so that I wouldn’t have as many leftovers and I decided to make them miniatures for better portion control. I still had a little mixture left over after filling my muffin tin, so if you don’t want to make much, you could probably quarter the recipe or make two separate dishes and freeze one. This particular recipe didn’t call for any meat, but you could definitely add that in if you wanted to. Quiche is pretty easy to experiment with. My sister and I had one and a half quiches and salad on the side when we had it for dinner. We then ate them over the next few days as breakfast or lunch, they worked great for either one and I actually think they tasted better as leftovers. I definitely hope to keep experimenting with quiche, maybe I’ll try on with a crust next time. Just watch out for some of the quiche recipes that have heavy cream or a lot of cheese in them. You can get the recipe for this one here.

Honey Ginger Chicken Bites
I think this recipe is actually designed to be an appetizer, but I really enjoyed having it for dinner. I used two chicken breasts instead of thighs, but everything else was the same. I think I have posted a similar recipe that I also got from cooking light at some point. The two recipes have almost the same ingredients, but do taste a little different. This one was a little sweeter and the previous one that I’ve used has a stronger ginger and orange flavor. I like both of them pretty much equally though. This one is a little easier to prepare because you marinate the chicken in the sauce as opposed to making the chicken and sauce at the same time in the other recipe. This one can also be a time saver because you can prep and marinate the chicken the night before if you want. I pan sauteed brussel sprouts in olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice and cut a fresh tomato to go with this. Everything was delicious. I definitely recommend making this one, especially for a party appetizer or finger food. Click  here for the recipe.

Enchilada Casserole
I always love making new mexican dishes at home. They are usually pretty easy and healthy because of all the spices that provide so much flavor. I’ve never made any kind of enchilada on my own before, so I was excited to try this out. I followed the recipe almost exactly. The only change I made was adding more taco seasoning, I ended up using about half the pack instead of just the few tablespoons that it called for. I wasn’t getting enough spice from it at first. We paired it with corn and a few tortilla chips. The recipe says that it makes four servings of one wedge, so that’s how I served it. I couldn’t finish all of mine because the casserole itself is pretty filling. I had the leftovers for lunch the next day and they were just as delicious as the night before. This is a great recipe that doesn’t take many ingredients or planning to pull together. Click here to try it out.

Homemade Granola Bars
Last recipe for this post! Another thing I’ve really been wanting to try to make myself are granola bars. I really like granola bars but the ones in the store are usually packed with stuff I don’t want to eat. I’m not really sure how much better these are for you but at least I can control what I put in them. I didn’t stick to one particular recipe, instead I looked at several on cooking like and kind of made up my own. I’ll add the recipe below. They turned out better than I expected and were actually kind of addicting. I’m going to have to limit myself on how often I make these because I could probably eat the whole plate at once without even thinking twice. They make a great morning snack or a desert for after dinner. I used raspberry preserves on the top, but you could choose whatever fruit you like and add it or have them just plain. The way I cut them from the pan, they made about 16 1 inch by 1 inch squares. According to the MyFittnessPal app, each serving has 113 calories, 4.4 g fat, 21.6 mg sodium, 11.2 mg cholesterol, 28.7 g potassium, 17.5 g carbs, 8.4 g sugar and 1.4 g protein. These things are delicious!!

 Recipe for Raspberry Granola Bars
1 cup flour                                                                   1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar                                                 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter                                                  1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup water                                                             3 tablespoons raspberry preserves
3 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds                    pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 425. Mix flour oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sunflower seeds in a bowl. Melt butter and add to oat mixture. Add water and salt and mix well. Place mixture in a greased pan (any size is fine). Bake for about 10 minutes then spread raspberry preserves over the top and bake for another 10 minutes. Slice and let cool. 

Doing Better

I’m now in my third official week of summer. I just started a new two week rotation on Radiation Oncology and I’m unsure of how I feel about it at this point. It’s definitely a change from the last two weeks when I was on OB-GYN. I get to come home for lunch though, which is really nice. I haven’t gotten to do that since I started medical school. It’s nice to have a little personal break in the day to relax and get a few things done. I don’t have to get to “work” until eight now, so I’m going to try to wake up early for my running instead of waiting until the end of the day when I’m tired. I ran yesterday afternoon and managed to get up at 6 am today and run as well. While it’s still a little difficult for me to get up early and get going, I really like being more productive in the morning. I think it makes my day more enjoyable. My sister, Caroline, has moved in with me for the summer and she has been running with me, hopefully we can keep each other motivated to be healthy throughout the summer. Since finishing school at the end of May, I’ve had trouble getting back into my routine of cooking and regular exercise. I finally feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things and I’m hoping I can keep it up. I had gotten to the point where I was letting myself start to sneak bites of sweets or snacks here and there, telling myself that I’d been so good over the past year that it didn’t matter. I think it does matter though. I could feel myself slipping back into eating until I was full instead of really controlling my portions and being mindful of how healthy something was. I’ve decided to start counting nutritional facts and measuring my serving sizes again, just so that I can make myself aware of what I’m eating each day. Writing it down or keeping track with a calorie counter helps you hold yourself accountable and makes you think twice if you’re considering something unhealthy. I found this iPhone app called My Fitness Pal. Today is the second day I’ve used it and it seems to be helpful so far. It has a database with the nutritional info for just about any food you can imagine. Plus, you can put in your own recipe and it will calculate the numbers for you. I’m not totally sure how accurate all the calorie counters are, but they at least give you a baseline to go by. If you decide to start keeping track of your nutritional info, set appropriate goals for yourself and don’t get too upset if you exceed your goal every now and then, it happens. Now for a few recipes.

Baked Salmon
I made this recipe up on my own. Last week I was house sitting and wanted some kind of fish. My sister and I decided on salmon. Since I wasn’t at my house, I didn’t have my chili lime rub that I normally put on my salmon. I just peeked around the spice cabinet for a couple minutes and decided to try at cajun style dry seasoning. I can’t remember exactly what was in it, but I’m sure you could find something similar at any grocery store. I just sprinkled some olive oil first then coated the fish in the seasoning. You should be aware of the salt content in the seasonings that you use, many come sodium free now so you should always choose that option if it’s available. Caroline and I decided to pair it with steamed green beans and some fresh cucumbers and green bell peppers from the garden. It turned out to be a great little experiment.

BIG Burger
So, this probably doesn’t look like the healthiest thing on the planet, but I can tell you it’s definitely not the worst thing. I went over to Raysha and Tyler’s, friends from high school, house for dinner the other night and really wanted to share the zucchini fries that Raysha made. She just cut up fresh zucchini bathed it in an egg and milk wash and then coated the pieces in panko bread crumbs seasoned with a little cayenne pepper. Then they were baked in the oven, I’m not sure of the temp or the time (Raysha, if you read this comment so we’ll know!). They were so delicious! It’s a great alternative to regular french fries and a great way to get stubborn kids to eat their veggies. As for the rest of the meal, I didn’t have a bun with my burger and I didn’t finish the whole patty, that thing was huge! We had fresh avocado and tomato to go with it as well. This was a really great summer meal, perfect for a cookout with friends.

Black Bean Burgers
This is another recipe that I got from cooking light. Caroline and I tried it last night. You pretty much toss the ingredients into a food processor, make patties, and cook them in a skillet. I followed the recipe exactly on this one except I used italian bread crumbs instead of making my own and I added a little cilantro for added spice. They were delicious. We didn’t do buns with these burgers either, and I really think it would have been too much if we had. The burgers themselves are pretty dense and filling, so we just had a fresh spinach salad on the side. They were quick and easy to make and make good leftovers (I just had one for lunch). They are completely vegetarian (not vegan, they do contain eggs), so they would be great to have at a cookout as an alternative. Desert was one cup of sliced fresh strawberries. I’ll definitely be making these again. Click here for the recipe.

Winging It

Since I finished with school on May 25, I’ve been out of town every weekend and I’ve been on a two week OB-GYN rotation. It’s been crazy so far. Being out of town on the weekends and getting up at 5:30 on the weekdays has left me pretty exhausted and hasn’t left much time for me to exercise or plan out a week of meals. I’ve been searching for furniture to add to my apartment and dog/house sitting this week. Despite the fact that it’s Father’s Day this weekend, I’m staying in Jackson to get things back together. Even though it’s been crazy, I’ve been enjoying it. I’ve been able to see several C-sections and I’ve learned a lot about how things work on the OB-GYN service in the hospital. I’ll be starting a two week rotation on radiation oncology next week, which will be something I’ve never experienced before so I’m excited to learn more about it. Since I didn’t really come up with a plan for my meals last week I kind of had to wing it. I ended up doing pretty well by just putting together what I had at home without having to go to the grocery store for any of my dinners. Here’s what I came up with.

Garlic Lemon Basil Chicken Pasta
The night I made this I had planned on doing some kind of baked chicken, but I was too tired to wait 30 minutes for it to bake. So, I ended up browning it in a skillet with some garlic and lemon juice then I decided to cook some pasta to go with it. I added feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil to the mix. It was really simple to toss together and I just kind of made it up as I was cooking the chicken. I  sautéed the garlic in the pan first then added the chicken and probably about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Once all the chicken and pasta were done, I just tossed in the rest and mixed it in a bowl.

Greek Cod
Once again I came home exhausted and wasn’t really in the mood to be too creative. I wanted to try something different than my usual fish that I make. Normally I just use olive oil with a little garlic herb and lemon pepper seasoning. This time I decided to use my greek salad dressing as a marinade and bake it. I ended up cooking on a higher temperature than normal so it got a little over done but the marinade tasted pretty good. The picture makes it look pretty sad because I just had carrots and and snap beans with it, but I wasn’t very hungry so I didn’t need much. I think I’ve put my greek salad dressing on a post before, so you should be able to find it if you want to try it.

Audrey’s Quiche
Since starting my healthy cooking last summer, I’ve really been wanting to try quiche, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. It doesn’t seem too complicated, but I am a little weary of ones that have a lot of cheese and cream. I want to make sure I make a healthy one that’s easy and I don’t want to end up with a lot of left overs so, I think I may try to make some mini ones sometime this weekend. My friend Audrey told me about a quiche that she made last week and I got her to send me a picture of it. She uses a gram cracker crust instead of a pie crust to give a little sweetness to the quiche. She used egg, spinach and feta and just mixed it all up. and baked it in the oven. I can’t wait to try to make one.

Sweet Summer Time

Summer has officially started!!! I finished my first year of medical school exactly one week ago today. I can hardly believe it! I’ve been in a whirlwind of summer activities for the past week, so I’m a little behind on my usual blog schedule. I’m thinking my schedule might be a little sporadic over the summer, but I’m definitely going to be posting recipes and the like as often as I can. Since finishing last week, I’ve been to Starkville, out to Gray Center for the Annual Bishop’s Barbeque, boating on the reservoir while my parents were in town, and then I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Camp Bratton Green for a couple days during Special Session. For those of you that don’t know me very well, I spend  most of my summers working at an Episcopal church camp called Camp Bratton Green. I started going as a camper in the third grade, then became a counselor in high school and then a lifeguard while I was in college. Camp has always been a place where the real world doesn’t exist, you can be yourself and enjoy the people and the community that surround you. It’s become a huge part of my life, and I’m sad to say that I’ll probably have to take a break for a few years while I’m a medical student and resident. Visiting for the past couple days was just what I needed after a long first year of medical school. I’m hoping I can continue to visit over the next few years since I won’t be able to be on staff for a whole session and then, once I’m done with school I can be the camp doctor.  The rest of the summer is sure to be just as busy as this past week, but I’m excited. I’ll be getting a much needed break from studying while I shadow in June, then I’ll be traveling and visiting friends and family in July. I did go running last week and I’m working on staying on track, it’s been a little crazy this week with all my travels. Here are some summer time recipes for you to enjoy!

Chicken Bruschetta Pizza
I’ve talked about my personal tortilla pizzas that I make before, but I’ve come up with a new one! Usually I just put mozzarella, fresh basil and tomatoes on a wheat tortilla and bake it until the cheese melts. This past week I had some chicken that I needed to cook and didn’t really have much of an idea of what I wanted to do with it. I looked around the kitchen to see what I could put together and discovered that I had the ingredients for a tortilla pizza. I love pizzas with chicken, so why not change it up a little, right? Then I thought to myself, “what goes great with basil, tomato, and mozzarella cheese?” Balsamic vinaigrette, of course! (I feel like such a nerd getting so excited over small things like this) So, I made a little balsamic dressing using almost equal parts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; you just need a couple tablespoons of each. For the rest, all you have to do is bake the chicken until done, warm the tortillas in the oven (at about 350) until they begin to get a little crispy, remove them and add your cheese, chicken, tomatoes, fresh basil and vinaigrette then pop it back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes so the cheese can melt. It was delicious and I can’t believe I’ve never thought of using balsamic vinaigrette on my tortilla pizzas before. I think it just goes to show you that there are always ways to spice up an ordinary meal that you make regularly. It’s lots of fun to experiment with different things, especially when you stumble upon something that tastes good and is healthy. My sister was over for dinner so we made three on mini tortillas and each had one and a half.

Berry Dessert
Fresh fruit is one of my favorite things to eat, and if you don’t know, I have a slight problem when it comes to desserts. I have a weakness for chocolate, creme brulee, bread pudding, and pretty much any other sweet and delicious treat. Dieting doesn’t leave much room for desserts though, so I’ve had to try to control myself and come up with substitutes. Fruit is a great substitute for dessert because it’ sweet and it’s natural sugar, not refined and processed. I thought of making this dessert for my family over the weekend when I was in the grocery store and noticed that they so conveniently place the round angel food cake next to the berry variety packs. I quickly decided that this is what we were going to have. It’s one of the oldest recipes in the book. So I grabbed some no fat cool whip, a couple packs of angel food cake and a container of mixed berries. Cool whip is a strange thing, it tastes so good, but there’s hardly anything in it. There are only about 15 calories in two tablespoons and it’s surprisingly low on sugar if you ask me. Now, I’m not saying you should buy a tub and eat it all over a few days, but if you’re really craving dessert and trying to stay on the healthier side, berries and cool whip make a great treat. The type of angel food cake that I got wasn’t that great, so I think next time I do this recipe, I’ll just go for the strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries with some cool whip on the side. I added up the nutritional info from the packages and this dessert comes to 20 calories, 1.5 g fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 160 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrates, 10 g sugar, and 1 g protien. Not too bad in my opinion. Not the best picture quality, but I think you get the idea.

Fresh Marinara
I haven’t recently made this recipe, but I’ve been wanting to and summer is the perfect time for it. My mom and I found this recipe on the back of a Kroger shell pasta package and decided to make it one day. It’s become a family favorite and it’s so easy to pull together and keep in the fridge for a few days. It’s a pasta salad, so it would be great to take to a party or picnic too. The recipe is below.

Ingredients
12 oz Shell Pasta                                                    ¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup mozzarella, diced (or shredded)                     2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ onion, diced                                                       1 clove garlic, minced
8 fresh basil leaves, torn/chopped                            ½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt                                                                ¼ tsp pepper
2 cups ripe tomatoes, diced

Directions
Combine olive oil, mozzarella cheese, lemon juice and toss. Add onions, garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and toss again. Add tomatoes and let stand for 15 minutes. While mixture marinates, cook pasta. Add pasta to mixture. Chill and serve. Serves 6-8.