Run, Run, as Fast as You Can

I’ve officially signed up for a 5K! I set a goal to complete a 5K last summer and I still haven’t gotten around to it. I finally decided that I’m going to do it (ready or not). I haven’t run the full distance yet, but I’m close and have just under  a month to go a few tenths of a mile more. I think it’s going to be a really fun 5K too! My medical school class is hosting it as a night run complete with glow sticks; part of the proceeds will go to The Jackson Free Clinic. If you’re in the Jackson area and want to sign up, click here for online registration. The date is August 25 and the race will start at 8:00 pm. In other news, I just returned from a three day trip to Kansas City, MO for the Family Medicine Student and Resident Conference. I had never been to Kansas City before, and it was a really fun city from what I got to see. I also ran two out of the three mornings I was there, which I was really proud of. I did, however, have gelato/ice cream three days in a row, hopefully they canceled each other out! I only have two weeks until school starts back, and I think I’m almost ready for it. I’m glad to have a couple more weeks off, but I’m starting to feel a little lazy because I don’t really have much going on. This week I just a have a few more easy summer recipes for you.

Wrap it Up
I mentioned the classic BLT sandwich a few weeks ago, but I decided to change it up just a tad in an attempt to make it a little healthier. I just used a wheat tortilla instead of bread and a little olive oil mayonnaise. I also added cucumber to give a little extra crunch. I came up with another wrap idea the other day when I was scrounging around my fridge trying to pull a quick lunch together. I mashed up an avocado, cut up a tomato, added lettuce, grated some mozzarella cheese on top and drizzled a little homemade balsamic vinaigrette on top. It was delicious, and really similar to a hummus wrap if you’ve ever had one of those. I had a mediterranean hummus wrap while I was on my trip that had hummus, kalamata olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumbers in it. I’ve found that wraps are really easy to pull together and they usually taste good with whatever you have sitting in the fridge wrapped inside. Try it out sometime, it’s super easy.

Fresh Basil and Tomato Cous Cous
I’ve really started to enjoy experimenting with different grains. For the past few months I’ve used quinoa a lot, but I decided to try cous cous this time. Cous cous is similar to quinoa, but I think it’s a little softer, if that makes sense. My sister said she likes the cous cous better, but I think they’re both good. This recipe calls for one of my favorites, fresh basil, and pairs it up with mozzarella cheese and tomatoes. Like the quinoa tabbuleh that I make pretty frequently, this is a good salad to keep in the fridge and have it as a snack or as a side with lunch or dinner. It’s easy to make and easy to store, and I think would make a good potluck item. Click here for the recipe.

Bacon, Shrimp, and Arugula Salad
As you all know I love salad, and I especially love experimenting with different salad ingredients. This was a pretty simple one with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. The recipe calls for arugula, which I’m not a huge fan of, so I just used regular spring mix. The other ingredients were just bacon (I used lean turkey bacon), shrimp, and cherry tomatoes. The dressing is made with yogurt, balsamic vinaigrette, and olive oil. I was pretty nervous about having the yogurt in the dressing, but I ended up really liking it. It was really similar to one of my favorite restaurant’s balsamic dressing, so I’ll probably make it again. I think having the shrimp made it perfect for a light dinner or a bigger lunch, it certainly filled me up. If you’re not much of a salad fan, start giving some a try, you might be surprised at how some ingredients complement each other so well. Click here to try this one.

Cookie Dough Bites- Take Two
Last week I mentioned the vegan cookie dough bites that I made at the beach. Well, I didn’t have all of the ingredients since I was out of town so I just had to make them again and with all of the right ingredients. THEY WERE SOOOOOOO GOOD!!! I also actually used my brain this time and rolled them up into little bite size balls instead of leaving them in disorganized blobs. This recipe will definitely become a staple dessert at my house. I think it gives just the right amount of sweetness to curb my dessert craving and they don’t seem to be unhealthy and packed with a ton of sugar.  The blog that I got the recipe from, Averie Cooks, has lots of variations of this recipe so you can make your favorite kind of cookie dough bite.  So glad that I found this!!

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Life at the Beach

As no one has noticed I’m sure, I’m a bit behind on making a post. I was at a conference/vacation in San Destin, FL for a week, then drove to Oxford for a wedding (Yay, Linley and Jack!!), and finally returned to Jackson on Sunday. It was a nice break, my family and I had a great time at the beach and enjoyed the Mississippi Academy of Family Physicians Annual Assembly Meeting.  I tried my hardest to fit in some exercise and I managed to do so for a couple days, but it got to be a little difficult. Having to be at the conference at 7 am meant that I had to wake up at 5:30 to get in a morning run. I definitely didn’t want to run in the afternoon though, it was too hot and a waste of relaxing sun bathing time on the beach. So, for the first two days we were there I managed to pull myself out of bed early enough to run, Dad even came with me one day! Even though not exercising was bothering my conscious, I was on vacation, which I feel was needed, so I tried to relax about it. Plus, I tried to make up for it by not splurging too much on what I ate. Two days of running on vacation is better than none, right?! Out of seven days, we only ate out three nights, which I think is pretty good as well. It’s hard to cook on vacation when you’re at meetings during the day and then have night activities too. We did manage to cook up a few things that were pretty delicious though!

Snacks for the Beach
Beach vacations are always a sink for unhealthy snacks that are beach friendly and portable. And, if you’re like my family, the kids always beg to have lunch at the beachside bar and grill where they serve chicken tenders, hamburgers, and french fries. Now that I’m old enough to realize it’s simple to avoid those circumstances, I’m happy to say that we did avoid them. It was quite simple too! For snacks, we bought whole grain goldfish, popcorn, and ingredients for homemade trailmix. I made the trail mix with almonds, sunflower seeds, and craisins using pretty much equal portions of each item. This is my new favorite snack by the way. I have always liked almonds and have recently discovered I like sunflower seeds; adding craisins gives just the right amount of sweetness. In order to keep us from eating everything in one afternoon snack sitting, I divided everything up into approximately 100-150 calorie servings using small snack size ziploc bags. Now, you may think that dividing everything up takes to much time and effort, but it really wasn’t, especially using a measuring cup. I think I’m going to start doing this at home and stop buying the ready made 100 calorie packs, it will be much cheaper and probably even a little healthier depending on what I buy. As for lunch on or at the beach, remember that it’s easy to buy sandwich, wrap, and/or salad fixings for the week at a much lesser cost than what you could get at a restaurant. We made our lunches all week and it worked out great. Hopefully you can give those tips a try next time you go to the beach, or on your next trip.

 

 

Dinner at the Beach

 

 

 

Being at the beach gives you the opportunity to get fresh seafood that you may not have access to at home. My family and I both like to have seafood, especially when we can get it fresh from a fish market on the coast. I was anxious to try out a new fish recipe, but hadn’t found one quite yet when my dad suggested we try to make our own stuffed flounder. I thought that sounded pretty good and he knew of a recipe we could go by. Basically he sauteed onion, green pepper, and shrimp in olive oil, a tablespoon or so of butter, and a couple tablespoons of worcestershire sauce. He then added some Tony Chacere seasoning along with some salt and pepper. I suggested using brown rice instead of bread crumbs as the binding agent to be a little healthier. We added precooked crab meat to the sauté mix and then mixed all the stuffing componnents together. Dad and I differed a little on how to stuff our fish, but it turned out okay. He used one fillet on the bottom and then cut another in half to create the sides; I wanted a slightly smaller portion so I folded one fillet for dinner and rolled another to have the next day for lunch. I think they turned out better than we had anticipated, I personally felt like I was eating food right out of a restaurant. The pictures are of my dad’s version before they went in the oven and my plate after everything was made. If you want to give it a try, but aren’t sure what to do, leave a comment and I’ll get in touch.

“Healthy” Dessert
A healthy dessert seems to be a bit of an oxymoron, but I think I’ve found one that I can call healthy and not feel bad about it. I do eat fruit as a dessert sometimes and I definitely think that is a healthy dessert option, but I’m also somewhat of a chocoholic. I found this recipe through Pinterest and decided to make it while we were at the beach. It’s a vegan/raw cookie dough bite recipe. I was lacking the vanilla since we were in a different kitchen and I’m used to having it at home, but they still turned out yummy in my book. I also had to use a blender, so the oats and nuts weren’t ground as fine as they should have been. I think a food processor will work better. Anyway, they made for a nice treat and they were the perfect size for someone who just needs a couple bites of sweetness after a meal. Click here for the recipe, its from another food blogger and she’s got lots of variations of this recipe and others for you to try.

Fruits and Veggies

My two week no dessert challenge is almost over! With the exception of the fourth of July (which I planned on), I haven’t had ice cream, chocolate, or any kind of dessert in two weeks. It’s been especially difficult to go without ice cream since it’s the middle of summer and that’s practically all I can think about. I do think it has been good for me though; I’ve regained some of my self control and realized that I can actually live without it. When I started changing my diet last year, I measured serving sizes for just about everything I ate and that really helped me know what was appropriate to eat. As time moved on, I thought I could eyeball what was appropriate, but that’s easier said than done. I was falling into the routine of saying “Oh, just a little more won’t hurt,” but that’s a slippery slope to get started on, so I’ve started measuring things out again so that I don’t slide into over eating. It’s been working out pretty well and I plan to do it with desserts when I start eating them again (can’t wait for some frozen yogurt tomorrow!!). I’ve also increased my running a little and I’m finally planning on running a 5K in August. I’ll let you know how that works out (if I make it that is). Anyway, I’ve posted a few things about summer recipes and I thought I’d continue with a few more. Farmer’s markets and produce stands on the side of the road are great places to find fresh and delicious produce  during the summer. It’s a limited time offer that I think everyone should take advantage of. Here’s what I’ve come up with for this week, hope you enjoy!

Panko Shrimp with Chive Aioli
This was a totally new recipe experience for me. I’ve never used Panko bread crumbs and I’ve never made any sort of Aioli (whatever that is). It turned out really well and of course, it was easy. Now I’m not totally positive about the healthy aspect of Panko Pan Fried Shrimp, but I have heard Panko is better than the traditionally used flour and deep fryer. The Chive Aioli is mainly a spiced up greek yogurt, which I was quite iffy about before I made it, but I actually really liked it a lot! This recipe is on the higher end of the calorie count though (430 for a serving of shrimp and sauce), so I paired it with fresh tomatoes that I got from a produce stand and wild rice. Tomatoes this time of year are practically irresistible, I love eating them plain with a little salt and pepper or on a yummy BLT. I followed this recipe exactly and I think it turned out great, I’ll definitely make be making it again. Click here for the recipe.

Summer Texas Hash
Texas Hash is a recipe that my mom has made for us ever since I can remember. Normally it contains brown rice, ground beef, canned tomatoes, green pepper, onion and cheese. After picking up an assortment of veggies from the produce stand, I decided I would revamp it summer veggie style. I kept the brown rice, ground beef, green pepper, onion and cheese then added a few things. I used fresh whole tomatoes instead of canned and added eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini and a sweet pepper. As you can see in the picture, I got a little carried away with the amount of vegetables so I had to use this huge pan. I definitely had leftovers, they’re in the freezer for me to take out when I’m feeling lazy some day. You could really add any vegetables or beans that you like to this casserole. I browned a pound of lean ground sirlion and used one bag of cooked brown rice. You’ll also want to pan sauté the veggies before putting everything in the pan. I didn’t really measure my vegetables, so I would recommend putting them in the baking pan you plan to use as you go so you can determine how much you need. I had a smaller pan but too many veggies, so I had to move up to this monster pan. Anyway, this one is pretty easy to throw together on a week night, you just toss everything in a pan, top with cheese and bake at 350 until the cheese is melted.

Patriot Pops
In my search for festive fourth of July recipes, I came across this one from Lauren Conrad. It looks and sounds like a dessert, but in my opinion, it’s more of a healthy snack. The only dessert like ingredient is 2 tablespoons of honey, which I didn’t think added too much in the grand scheme of things. I stuck to her recipe but used light coconut milk instead of regular. The greek yogurt makes them a little tart but the fruit balances it out nicely. It’s basically just frozen greek yogurt, mixed with some cottage cheese and coconut milk. If you’re not a fan of greek yogurt, you may not like them. I’m not the biggest fan of it, but I thought they were pretty good. Plus, they only have about 50 calories per pop! Click here and scroll to the bottom for the recipe.

Summer Crafting
I’ve caught a crafting bug from Pinterest and I can’t resist sharing my newest creation. I’ve never been the creative or artsy type and I definitely can’t draw, paint, or do anything of that nature. However, I recently discovered a few easy projects that even the least artistic people can do. First, I needed something to go on my living room wall. I have a big pretty mirror but nothing to complement it on either side, so I found an idea for covering small canvases in scrapbook paper. I got four canvases and picked out different scrap book paper that kind of go together and basically wrapped the canvas like a present using modge podge. Second, I figure if I can wrap those in scrapbook paper, what else can I do? I have a small bright orange clock that I got as a gift several years ago, but orange doesn’t quiet go with anything I own, so I found a light green scrapbook paper pattern that I like and covered the clock too. It looks great! My third and favorite craft so far is my Mississippi String Art. I saw one made for another state and had been wanted a piece of Mississippi art for my house, so I decided to make one. It was so easy and it looks way better than I thought it would. Someone has even offered to pay me to make one, I can’t believe it!

 

Happy America Day!

I’ve been doing pretty well this past week with exercise and my diet, and I’ve stayed away from desert for a whole week. In light of the fourth of July occurring tomorrow, I thought I would give a few tips on how to make your fourth of July a little healthier. I must say that I’m a sucker when it comes to splurging a little when the holidays come around. I mean, it’s a special occasion that only comes around once a year, so why not give yourself a little treat. However, it is good to try to control yourself and make healthy choices where you can. I have a day of fun on the river planned with family and friends, and I’ve done my best to plan a somewhat healthy menu for us to take along. Here’s what I’ve come up with, let me know if you have any fun suggestions to add!

Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato Sandwiches
A BLT is a classic summer time sandwich that just about everyone loves. I had one for lunch today and it was delicious! Now, the lettuce and tomato are healthy, but the bacon and bread can be another story. I’m at my parents house right now so I just used what they had which was regular bacon and whole wheat bread. If you can though, I would recommend using lean turkey bacon and pita bread or a whole wheat tortilla. You could also just have half a sandwich, which would be perfectly acceptable. Today, I had a whole sandwich with about 3/4 of a tomato, 2 slices of bacon, and several pieces of iceberg lettuce on two slices of whole wheat bread with about 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Of course mayonnaise isn’t one of the healthiest things you can eat, so if you can go without it on a BLT, more power to ya! I for one, just cannot resist a little bit, so I try to get by on as little as possible. I had a little corn salad on the side, a family recipe that my mom likes to make in the summer.

Watermelon Salad
Watermelon is another one of those summer time classics that you just can’t resist. I had a craving for some last week and ended up buying a whole watermelon for myself. To say I had enough watermelon to feed a small army would be and understatement. I had about 6 or 7 tupperware containers full of watermelon and I was begging my friends to eat it. I remembered that I had gotten a few emails with some watermelon recipes, so I figured I might as well try one. I chose a watermelon salad with feta cheese, mint, parsley and a few other ingredients. The final product was okay, it would make a nice side for a picnic, but it wasn’t really my favorite. I think I prefer to have watermelon fresh and plain. It’s too delicious to mix other things in with it, so I think I’ll stick to plain watermelon in the future. If you want to try the recipe, click here.

Fruity Deliciousness
Fresh fruit is always a nice treat in the summer. It’s especially fun to make festive fourth of July treats with fresh fruit. I’ve found a few recipes for some fairly healthy fruit treats. There are all kinds of things that you can find on the internet these days. I found a few fun fruit recipes that I wanted to try. Lauren Conrad always has fun things to try on her website, especially when the holidays come around. She posted a few sweet treats that aren’t packed with too much bad stuff. I made the strawberries with cool whip and blueberries tonight for desert and I have her Patriot Pops in the freezer to have at some point tomorrow. You can click here for her fourth of July treats.

Other Tips
Many people like to have cookouts and not so healthy snacks on the fourth of July. We’re planning to do the same tomorrow, but I’ve come up with a few things to try to make things a little healthier. Instead of regular hamburgers and hotdogs, try turkey or veggie burgers and turkey dogs on whole wheat buns. Try to go whole grain or multigrain with any chips that you eat, eat as many raw fruits and veggies as you can, they make great snacks on hot summer days. As for the drinks, try not to go over board on the sugary drinks and regular beer. Try light beer and low sugar drinks instead. I’ve also found a few fun things on Pinterest. I’m currently baking strawberries to have tomorrow, they’re supposed to turn out kind of like a Twizzler. I’d also like to try to make  fruit skewers with bananas, strawberries, and blueberries in the shape of a flag. So, whether you’re planning a big party for friends and family or a small get together for just a few people, try to have fun, but keep in mind that you can make healthier choices along the way.