Chicken w/ Maple Mustard Dill Sauce

A really great way to be “good” on a diet or on your healthy-eating kick is to change things up.  Make interesting food and don’t get stuck with the same old.  Experiment with spices and flavors.  You’ll be surprised at how many different things there are to try and how pleased you will be eating healthy when it’s exciting.

Something I like to do is to change up the sauces I use when I cook simple things like Chicken.  I had this recipe saved for about a year in my books and was really intrigued to try it.  Honestly- it seemed a little weird but I had everything in my fridge already so I figured why the heck not?

Pan-Roasted Chicken w/ Maple Mustard Dill Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 (6-oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
Cooking spray 
1/2 chopped or sliced red onion 
6 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
4 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 tablespoon Water
1 teaspoon chopped Fresh Dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried (I used 1 tsp of Gourmet Garden)
1 teaspoon Grated Orange Rind

Preparation:

  1. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound each to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan.
  2. Reduce heat to medium.  Combine the syrup, mustard, water, dill, and orange in a small bowl and stir with a whisk until well combined.
  3. Add onion to pan; cook 1 minute. Add sauce; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve sauce with chicken.

Very slightly adapted from: Cooking Light 

Makin' the sauce!

Makin’ the sauce!

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The one thing I wanted to do for this recipe was make it only for two (original was 4) but keep the same amount of sauce.  Dave loooooves lots of sauce with everything, so I thought it would be best for us.  It really worked out and I think the amount of sauce was perfect!

Served this with tons of veggies:  Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Tomato, and some Garlic Sauteed Spinach :)

Served this with tons of veggies: Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Tomato, and some Garlic Sauteed Spinach 🙂

maplemustardchick

I also have to mention that I recommend using REAL maple syrup.  Not the Aunt Jemima sugary crap.  If you haven’t yet, spend an extra couple of dollars and buy yourself the real stuff- it will work better in the recipe and then you’ll have plenty leftover for some life-changing pancakes.  This is also like, the bagillionth time I’ve used my Gourmet Garden tubed herbs… I cannot stress how awesome they are.

Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier… I totally get that the maple-dill-mustard-orange combination seems a little strange.  I thought the same thing.  Get past it.  This sauce rocks- the flavors just work.  Don’t ask any questions, just do.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Now let me go watch this show on Sci with Dave about King Crabs and how they are destroying their ecosystem!  AHH!  #HowISpendMyNights.

KingCrab

Simple Ways to Make Even “Diet” Foods Delicious and Filling (Guest Post)

Hi Everyone!  I know I’ve been MIA lately, but today there is a good reason for that… I’m hiking in Ecuador!  I cannot wait to tell you all about our fabulous adventure.  

I didn’t want you to feel lonely, so today I have a fabulous post for you from Bridget all about making “Diet” food delicious and satisfying.  I totally love all of her points and try to use them in my own diet too!  

Enjoy!! 

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A lot of people fail at making healthy changes to their diet because they think that they have to diet. They think they have to live on salads and carrot sticks, and they soon become bored and unfulfilled by their daily menu, leading them to give in to cravings and to binge on unhealthy foods.

It is important to make real change to your diet in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle. That means passing on fad diets and choosing healthy foods and activities that promote optimal wellness. One way to make sure that you can stick to these new healthy changes is to find ways to make even healthy, so-called “diet” foods taste delicious and filling so that you don’t become bored or feel deprived by your food.

Here are a few ideas for how you can do that:

Don’t Shy Away from Spices <– (my favorite idea!)

Spice is the variety of your diet. You can make steamed broccoli taste delicious by sautéing it with garlic. Bland cauliflower can become much more interesting by cooking them in a curry.

Anything you eat can take on more flavor and become more appetizing by choosing the right spices for it. Use spices liberally to give your foods more flavor and to make your dishes more diverse.

Some spices can even have health-promoting properties on their own, helping you to meet your wellness goals. For example, cinnamon can help you control your blood-sugar levels and garlic can help you to fight inflammation.

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Use Natural Sweeteners

Nothing tastes quite as good as a sweet treat, but indulging in too many sugary foods can be bad for your health. You don’t have to call off sweet foods altogether. Instead, you can use natural sweeteners in your foods to make them feel like the real thing, satisfying your sweet tooth and your tummy.

For example, instead of adding sugar to your smoothie, you can throw in a couple of dates. Instead of sprinkling sugar on your oatmeal, you can drizzle a little raw honey.

While you can’t eat these natural sweeteners in excess either, you can enjoy them in moderation without guilt, and they will make you feel like you are eating the real thing.

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“Fry” It

Crunchy fried foods are comfort foods for a lot of us. There’s something so satisfying about the crunch of a French fry or chicken strip, followed by the savory oils. However, fried foods are some of the worst foods for you to eat.

You can make healthy foods seem more tasty and more satisfying by “frying” them with

healthier alternatives, such as coating them with coconut shavings or crumbled whole grain flakes and baking them. The result will be a crispy treat that seems sinful but is missing a lot of the calories and fat of its fried cousin.

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Add Protein or Healthy Fats

Meals that consist of little more than carbs by satisfying your taste buds, but they won’t satisfy your hunger. You may feel full at first, but your blood sugar levels will soon go on a roller coaster ride, and you’ll be feeling snackish again very quickly. In order to feel more full and more satisfied by what you’re eating, you need to have enough proteins and healthy fats in the dish.

Make sure you always add both to every meal and snack you eat. Some good choices include lean meats like chicken and turkey, nuts and seeds, nut butter, cheese, low-fat dairy, avocado, and coconut oil.

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Try New Things

If you’re bored with your diet, it isn’t going to satisfy you, and you are going to be much more likely to veer off course. You can’t eat the same thing every day, and you can’t stick to plain, unappetizing foods. Grilled chicken and steamed broccoli isn’t going to sustain you night after night.

Branch out and try new recipes.  Look for ideas online or check out a few healthy cookbooks from your local library. The more things you try, the more dishes you will find that satisfy your appetite and your cravings. You’ll be able to rotate these to keep your menu interesting and to keep your wandering eye in check.

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If you stick to “diet” foods that are plain and bland, you aren’t going to stick to a healthy diet for very long. Use these simple tips to help you make any healthy food or dish more appetizing and satisfying so that you can stick to your new healthy lifestyle.

What other ways do you make so-called “diet” foods seem more interesting or delicious? Share your tips in the comments!

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching the option of a France cooking school. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

Lunchtime Tuesday, Week 7

Well, there’s a reason the last Lunchtime Tuesday I wrote for you was almost an entire month ago:  I am no longer eating lunch!

Before you get your panties in a twist, “Beth you have to eat!”  Yeah, I know I do… if you’ve been paying attention at all: HELLO, I LOVE FOOD!  Hear me out:  I mentioned last week that I have been trying to lose another 5 pesky pounds that I just cannot get movin’ on.  My trusty dietitian,  John (commonly referred to on here as “John the Dietitian”.  Yup, I’m creative) motivated me to try something new.

That something new wasn’t exactly a welcome idea over here.  John suggested that I switch up my breakfast (new recipe here, looooving it) and replace my typical lunch with a protein drink.  I not only thought that protein drinks would gag me out, blech… but there was no question in my mind that I’d be left starving and wanting “real” food.

I am super pleased to finally report that I was wrong.  I was totally wrong.  I can do it!  And I have.  Not only has this saved me time and stress packing lunch the night before, but it has absolutely helped me to lose 2 pounds already!  I am seriously full after lunch, and sometimes don’t even feel like I need a snack between lunch and workout (something I ALWAYS did before).

A big part of why I love my new plan is because I found a seriously delicious protein drink.  If you’re going to try this out at any point, you should find Calnaturale’s Svelte.  The taste is amazing, I have tried all 4 flavors and really enjoy each of them (Cappuccino & Vanilla are my favs!).  Here’s a little info about what’s inside:

Svelte

1 16oz Drink (Chocolate)

260 Calories

10g Fat

9g Sugar

8g Fiber

16g Protein

It’s Organic, Dairy-Free & Gluten-Free in four flavors:  Chocolate, French Vanilla, Cappuccino, and (wait for it…) Spiced Chai.  YUM.

Flavor of the day! Happy Tuesday people!

Not too bad, right?  I love it!  I originally was going to just do this lunchtime makeover for the remainder of the month of October, but I’m still goin’ strong!

OH, and please let me mention that I will fully endorse ANY food that tells me I’m “Lookin’ Good”.  Just putting that one out there, people.

What are you having for lunch today?

Here are some new puppy pics for you 🙂

Mr. Marty is getting so big! We love playing with this fuzzy little guy 🙂

Stelly smiles for the camera! Is she a cutie, or what?

 

Lunchtime Tuesday Week 4

I will warn you, that in trying to eat more than just a boring Turkey Sandwich for lunch, I’ve created a totally random meal.  Even though it was really random, it was so yummy!  Here are the facts:

1.  This entire meal only cost me just <250 calories.

2.  This lunch clocks in at just under 30 grams of Protein, with under 10 grams of fat!

3.  Great way to use leftovers!

I made two great-big salads for Dave and I last night.  While I was putting them together, I put some ingredients aside for lunch today.  First of all, a great idea is to cook ALL of your chicken you buy at the store.  I had purchased 4 breasts, used 2 for dinner and 2 I saved for lunches.

Next, before serving the roasted veggies I made for dinner, I put a scoopful of Roasted Yellow Squash aside for lunch.  Had i not done that, we probably would have eaten it (even though we were stuffed!).  I also brought in 1/2 of an avocado that we didn’t finish for the salad.  Keep the nut/seed in the avocado and put it in a plastic baggy in the fridge.  It will last and stay green until the next day.  I used 1/4 of this to eat with my chicken and gave the other 1/4 away to my co-worker.  Avocado is healthy but only in small portions.

Finally, today’s lunch was finished up with 1/2 of a cucumber sliced (again, thank you leftovers from my salad!) which I ate with a Laughing Cow Light Swiss wedge.  This was a nice change-up from my normal carrots for snack, and since it was still healthy, I can eat the carrots later if I want!

I’m totally still looking for some more healthy lunch suggestions out there… post if you have any to share!

Today’s cute puppy picture is in honor of my new Son-in-Law Puppy To-Be Marty who Mer & Mike are picking up today!  He is a Wheaten Terrier (just like the guy on the top of this post) and he is going to be Stelly’s boyfriend!

Lunchtime Tuesday

After Brianne requested some lunchtime advice last week… I thought it would be a good idea to start posting some of my lunches.  Although they won’t be anything fabulous like this or this… it’s always nice to see the basics, and maybe you can get some good ideas for yourselves!

Lunchtime! Nom nom nom

For me, breakfast & lunch during the workweek is when I’m most strict on my diet.  I find that if I can be “good” at work, where there are little dietary distractions… I can leave room for a few “bad” eating decisions for dinner and weekends.  For all you Weight Watchers Point Counters… let’s just say I use my Bonus & Exercise points on Nights & Weekends.  Sorta like the opposite of a phone bill.

One of my favorite lunches just became a wee bit more exciting.  My friend Lauren, who I visited 2 weeks ago in NY gave me this great new kick to my normal turkey sandwich:  Laughing Cow Cheese.

If you’re paying attention, you should already know about this stuff:  It’s AWESOME.  Go ahead, do yourself a favor if you haven’t already… go buy a wheel.  You won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, Lauren (who has a pretty similar breakfast/lunch diet to my own) suggested I spread one LC Cheese wedge onto my bread, instead of cheese.  It’s so good!

This brings me to today’s lunch:

I packed a Turkey Sandwich on Sara Lee’s Delightful Wheat Bread (45 cal/slice!), with 1 Laughing Cow Light Swiss Wedge, 3 oz of Boar’s Head Turkey Breast, some lettuce, and Trader Joe’s Whole Grain Dijon Mustard.  

I also packed some baby carrots to eat with another LC Wedge (Blue Cheese flavor), a banana, a nectarine, and 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese w/ All Fruit Jam.  

YUM, check out that mustard… you don’t need much!

 

This mustard is really hot, so be careful! It has great flavor though, you’ll love it.

 

I actually measure out 1/2 cup of Cottage Cheese… measuring is KEY with dieting. Did you know this little baby 1/2 cup is what ONE serving of ice cream / fro-yo should be?! EEEEEEK!

 

My post-lunch/pre-workout snack. If you haven’t tried Polaner’s All Fruit, please do. It’s amazing. I can’t remember the last time I had Smucker’s Jelly… you will NOT miss it, and this stuff is really good for you. (And, yes measure out 1Tbsp of that too)

 

Tuesday is my BIG workout day, so it’s super important for me to make sure I have a full breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack… or else I get SO hungry by the time I’m done at 7:30.

I’d love to hear what you’re eating for lunch and try it out myself!  Let me know if you have any favorites or suggestions!

 

Lunchtime!

A fan of It’s Good to be the Cook on Facebook (Like it if you haven’t yet!!), Brianne asked this question: “What do you do for lunch at work? Do you make anything special that can handle a commute?”

Thanks Brianne, you rock!

Lunchtime during the week is my time to “be good” on my diet.  I try to be very consistent and listen to my dietitian.

Here’s what I suggest and try to do myself:

1.  Breakfast.  8-9am.  I know you didn’t ask about breakfast, but it’s almost more important than lunch!  I was told to kick my favorite “Fiber One Oats & Chocolate” Bars to the side, as they are filled with sugar.  Fine.  Instead, I’ve been eating Kashi Go Lean (NOT crunch) and skim milk.  Kashi Go Lean is high in protein which is awesome.  I measure it out, 1 cup + 1/2 cup of skim milk.  At first it took a while to get used to the lack of milk, but I like it now since it lets most of the cereal stay nice and crunchy.  Add berries, or a banana.  

2.  Lunch.  12-12:30pm.  Don’t let 4 hours go between each meal.  Normally, for lunch I pack a turkey sandwich.  I use 2 slices of light wheat bread (or 1 slice if I have a specialty bread that is not light).  If you like mustard, pile it on.  I actually don’t, so I use Kraft’s Reduced Fat Olive Oil Mayo, and I measure out one teaspoon.  It’s only 1 point on WW, and will not do any damage.  If you have any, add a sliced tomato, lettuce, roasted reds, or anything else exciting.  Honesetly, most of the time I just have bread, mayo, and turkey.  I was measuring my turkey until I got so used to it I didn’t have to… but one good serving is 3oz.  You’ll be surprised how much that is!  You could also do a honey ham, chicken breast, or roast beef to change things up a bit.  Wrap in foil.  Eat w/ a side of fruit:  Peach, Apple, Banana, Berries... whatever.

Check out that delish Wegman’s Marathon Bread! Since it was’t a light bread today, I only use one slice (which also makes for less mayo!) and pile the turkey on.

Here’s my lunch for today! Sandwich, Carrots, 1 Wedge of Blue Cheese Laughing Cow, and some Cantaloupe

 

3.  Snack.  2:30-3pm.  If you’re like me and eat dinner late, eating a healthy snack is super important.  Try to have a Fiber and a Protein in your snack.  This can be a veggie and some cheese, some almonds, or my personal favorite:  Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese.  John the dietitian got me OBSESSED with this stuff.  I buy PLAIN, NONFAT either Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese, in a big container.  The night before, I take a small tupperware and measure out either 1 Cup of Greek Yogurt (again, it’s a TON) or 1/2 Cup of Cottage Cheese.  Then, I measure in 1 Tablespoon of All Fruit Jelly (any flavor but I love the Apricot, Strawberry, Raspberry, or Blackberry.  Don’t recommend grape!) and sometimes 1 Tablespoon of Wheat Germ or Ground Flax.  You shouldn’t be hungry after eating this!  Mix it all together once you are ready to eat, it’s amazing.  Sometimes I add raspberries in the mix too.

Here’s some FF Greek Yogurt (about 1/2 Cup today) with 1 Tbsp of Jam. After sitting overnight, it becomes a little bit watery, you just have to stir and it will be perfect.

If you prepare your meals ahead of time and bring them into work, you’re more likely to save money and calories by not ordering out or going to the vending machine.  Small Tupperware, foil, and baggies are clutch, and I just portion out everything the night before.

I hope this helps, Brianne!  Thank you for asking 🙂

Dieting is hard!!

F Dieting.  It really, really, really sucks.  It really sucks when you LOVE food like I do.  About 3 weeks ago, I started back up on the new Weight Watchers program.  I am also seeing the dietitian at my work (aka “John the Dietitian” … as we have another John in my office).  John the Dietitian is wonderful and fills in the blanks that WW leaves out, such as how many servings of grains/fruits/dairy, etc I should be eating per day, the timing of my meals, and things like lowering sugar intake.  The combination of the two programs have been really helpful.

This all sounds fine and dandy, until I get home and my parents are making a delicious homemade pizza… I didn’t get a chance to food shop for the week, and I’m exhausted from working out and finally getting home at 8pm.  WTF’s a girl to do?!

Although my parents, boyfriend, sister, and some friends are supportive of my trying to lose some weight, it is still so difficult to try to be “good” when everyone else… isn’t.

Snacks are a big weakness at home.  My family is notorious for having a fully stocked chip/snack cabinet, filled with new flavors and types of goodies.  The same thing goes with our sweets and candy.  My Dad is Tastykake’s #1 Fan and we even keep boxes of those out on the counter… in plain sight.  I’ve grown used to avoiding at least those, but fresh soft pretzels and new chips are nearly impossible to ignore.

At work… free food is such a trigger for me breaking my diet.  With the way my finances have been (well since I graduated, ha)… the sound of free food is almost too good to pass up.  Most of the time, free food is never what I really want to or should be eating.  People bring in chocolates, cookies, hoagies, bagels, etc etc.  My co-workers never really get the point that i DO NOT WANT to eat bad!  They continue to try to give bad food to me… it can be very hard at times to say no.

With friends, the hardest thing for me is going out to eat.  I absolutely LOVE trying new restaurants, and i seriously enjoy spending time with my girlfriends… but going out to eat with them twice or even just once a week adds up.  I feel guilty but try to steer our restaurant choices to make sure there is something I can eat that is on the healthier side.

With all of these outside factors constantly affecting my choices, of course it’s going to be hard to diet.  However, it is ultimately my decision what I put into my body.  Making smart choices can be hard but they’re what it takes to make a difference.

Although it’s not fun, a great way for me to make good decisions is to “be on my own” for dinner.  This week, my parents cooked up a homemade pizza and Dave made himself a ridiculously gooey grilled cheese.

It smelled as good as it looks!

Dave’s RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING grilled cheese… mmmmmmmmmmm!

I decided to go on my own and make a Spinach & Tomato Omelet with Toast.  It’s so easy, so healhty, and honestly I love it.  Eggs are my absolute favorite healthy food… I love them in the morning… with my lunch… and it is a GREAT dinner when I’m short on time and “points”!

I love to load on the spinach… its super healthy and ZERO points, like all green veggies!

A huge dinner for only 5 WW Points… Oh, and I love ketchup on eggs. 🙂

Spinach & Tomato Omelet w/ Toast

ONLY 5 POINTS!  (it will be more if you don’t measure the parm & cream cheese, so be careful!)
Ingredients:
2 Egg Whites
1 Egg
Handful Spinach
1/2 Tomato, chopped
2 Slices Smartwheat Wonder Bread (the best diet bread, ever)
1 teaspoon Fat Free Cream Cheese
Spray Butter
Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese & Garlic Salt
Directions:  Easy!!
1.  Mix eggs and pour onto a heated & sprayed frying pan.  Mix it around with heat-proof rubber scraper until the eggs start to settle on the bottom.  Add tomato & spinach.  When the egg is almost cooked, fold over and let the inside cook for another two minutes.
2.  Toast the bread, then spread the cream cheese on one side, spray butter and a sprinkle (teaspoon or less) of Parmesan cheese on the other.  I like a little garlic salt on that piece too!

Do you have any tricks for eating right?  What are your favorite healthy foods?