E-Z Baked Ziti

This meal is much less of a unique recipe, but much more an easy satisfying meal to throw together rather quickly.

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E-Z Baked Ziti

Ingredients:

1 13 oz. box whole wheat rigatoni

1 jar tomato basil sauce

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 bag baby spinach

2 cups mexican cheese shreds with a touch of cream cheese

1 tsp. sugar

Seasonings to taste:

garlic powder

onion powder

salt and pepper

italian seasoning

oregano

basil

Directions:

1. Boil pasta according to package and drain.

2. Preheat oven to 350*.  Brown ground meat and drain.

3. Add sauce to meat with 1/4 c water to rinse jar.  Add seasonings to taste with sugar.  Mix in spinach.  Simmer over medium heat for ten minutes or until heated through and spinach is wilted.

4.  Mix pasta, sauce mixture, and cheese until combined.  Add salt and pepper if desired.

5. Pour mixture into casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Cover with foil.  Bake 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake 5 minutes more.

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Less Wordy Wednesday

Started with an everything bagel thin and a fried egg + a bananaDSC00159 DSC00154 DSC00161

Lunch included some leftover spinach and artichoke pasta from Monday night’s dinner and an apple. DSC00164 DSC00166

Dinner from the Cherry Blossom was shared with the husband—eastbank roll, philly roll, and snowcrab roll + lots of edamame!

Bananas Cause Cellulite

Truth or Myth—Revealed!

Someone recently told my mother “bananas cause cellulite” as she sat at work eating her banana.  In my quest to find any truth in this statement, I found the opposite to be true.  In fact, bananas can help in detoxifying the body by increasing blood circulation and ridding the body of unwanted toxins.  Perhaps the woman got bananas confused with something else, but it has not been found to to cause cellulite.  Myth–revealed!

I know bananas are a staple in my diet; I eat them on a daily basis unless I run out, but I certainly do not plan on giving them up any time soon.  They provide the body with ample amounts of potassium, which aids the body in regulating blood circulation.  Additionally, the fiber content in bananas can help with normalizing digestion.  There are so many more advantages including preventing stomach ulcers, reducing kidney cancer in women, boosting moods, and promoting bone health.  

Although bananas get some criticism  about containing too much sugar, the benefits far outweigh the bad.  So eat your bananas, people! 😉

Unfortunately, I was all out of bananas this morning, so I ate a sliced peach in a parfait of sorts.

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I layered greek yogurt, cinnamon and oats granola, peach, raspberry preserves, a drizzle of honey, and a few cinnamon almonds.  Sweet, cold, satisfying!

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With Hot Chai Tea

Today’s lunch included sister’s white beans with sausage, pita chips for dipping, and an apple.

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After work, I headed to the grocery to pick up some staples + ingredients for tonight’s dinner.  Bananas and milk were needed desperately.  Okay, maybe the Talenti Coconut Gelato was not needed, but it looked so good.

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I immediately had to try out this new yogurt.

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It had cherry chunk pieces in it; I wished it had cake chunks instead, but it was tasty.

For dinner tonight, I made pasta with roasted vegetables, feta, and Italian Turkey Sausage.

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Feta Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Sausage

Ingredients:

12 oz. vegetable radiatore (tri-colored pasta)

5 links of Italian Turkey Sausage

Handful of Fresh Spinach

5 Basil Leaves, fresh

Approx. 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 zucchini, sliced

20 grape tomatoes

4 oz. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

salt and pepper

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400*.  Drizzle tomatoes and zucchini slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat and put in single layer on baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes in oven.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is boiling, add a teaspoon of oil to sauté pan.  Heat to medium high.  Cook sausage links for five minutes on medium turning periodically.  Cover and reduce heat; cook 5-6 minutes longer or until 170* inner temperature is reached and sausage is cooked through.  Let sit 5 minutes longer and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.  Before draining pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for later.  Place spinach and basil in colander; drain pasta in colander to allow spinach and basil to wilt from steamed pasta and water.   Return pasta to pot and add spinach, basil, sausage to pot.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 cup of reserve water to sauté pan used for cooking sausage; scrape any brown bits from pan and stir.  Pour water mixture over the pasta.  Add feta cheese and mix until combined.  Carefully stir in roasted vegetables.  Heat on low fire until warmed through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired.

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Collecting spinach and basil from garden

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My final opinion—I did not like the bites of whole leaves of basil.  I should have chopped that up into smaller pieces, but the dish was still yummy and not too complicated to cook.

Do you fear any foods that are thought to be healthy by most?

Walking in New Orleans

On Friday and Saturday, after enjoying some of these…

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Apple Spice Muffins (will share recipe in another post)

and lots of this…

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and all of this…

Lemon Cupcake with Raspberry Filling9-21-10 006

I desperately felt the need for a good workout.  After baking muffins and finishing some leftover pizza from Friday night, I met Mom at work so we could get our “swole” on. ;) 

Mom and I had to take another trip to the jeweler downtown so we decided to do that before working out.  Once downtown I mentioned how gorgeous the weather was and that we should just go walking the quarter to get our exercise rather than head back to the gym.  It was way too beautiful to be indoors.  So we decided to go walking in New Orleans.

There is nothing like walking around downtown hearing the sidewalk bands play well-known songs customary of New Orleans, listening to people chatting and laughing, hearing the sounds of the ferries and streetcars, children tapping on the street to earn a buck, or the bars filled with cheering crowds.  Not to mention all the sights one might come across.

F quarter 

Mom and I walked up and down the river and made a stop at the flea market.  We came upon a dance competition where people mostly in their twenties and thirties were swinging away. 

Dancing Dance 2 Dance 3

We then headed through the flea market where you can find all kinds of neat things.

 Fruit

HandmadeJewelry

Pics  Handmade 2 Masks

We continued with our walk past Jax Brewery.

Jax Brewery

Walking

Mom in the zone.

River

View of the river and Crescent City Connection. My apologies for poor picture quality; I only had my iphone on me.

me 

Once we got to the end of the Riverwalk, we both agreed we needed some fueling.

We stopped at the Time Out Sports Bar and Grill right outside the Riverwalk Mall and sat al fresco taking in the sights and sounds.

We started with a refreshing Arnold Palmer.

arnold palmer

And shared some Ultimate Nachos.Ult nachos

nachos

They definitely could have used something else.  More beans, the addition of salsa.  The cheese was concession stand, movie theater cheese.  I hoped for real cheese since the menu described it as cheddar cheese.  I guess my hopes were set to high and I should have gathered that it would be fake since the waiters were dressed like referees in black and white striped shirts and most of the patrons were decked out in purple and gold as they cheered on the LSU football team as the sounds played in the background.   

After finishing our drinks we headed back to the car to get home.   Once I got home my hub suggested he and I go for a bike ride around the neighborhood.  It was nice to get out and do that with him.  And we decided we would take the bikes to the levee along the river to do it more.

I really shouldn’t have eaten the nachos earlier in the day because hub and I had plans for a dinner date.  After showering, we headed to Sun Ray Grill right around the corner.

We started with the delta mushrooms. 

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Broiled with butter and parmesan served with French bread for topping.  It was tasty and buttery to say the least.  I had two slices of the bread with the mushrooms.

Next up, I tried the soup special, Butternut Squash Soup.  Hub had the gumbo.

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The soup was a bit too creamy for me, I thought it would more of a broth based soup.  I couldn’t even eat half of it.  Also, there was no meat in it, but it tasted like meat based stock was used—much like the sausage that was in hub’s gumbo.

Finally for my meal I ordered the pan roasted fish orleans served with whipped potatoes and veggies.  When the dish came out it looked nothing like brown buttered fish with potatoes and veggies.  It was more of a casserole that was brought to me.  So I waited for the waitress to return and asked what the dish was before me.  It turned out she thought I wanted the Mixed Seafood Pan Roast.  They took the casserole back and I decided I would just share hub’s Cioppino Pasta  rather than have the fish. I did eat a massive amount of nachos earlier in the day, so I wasn’t that hungry anyways.

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My portion on a salad plate.  The pasta was a creamy tomato sauce with shrimp that were cooked just right, mushrooms, and fried calamari with a tasty green sauce on top.  Looking at the menu, I do not remember tasting any crab in the dish, but maybe I just did not get any in my portion.

Overall, I enjoyed the food, although it is rich.  I am sure one could find some lighter fare if desired.  The service was great as there were not that many other people dining.  The chef even makes a visit to all tables to see how the meal is.  Hub and I agreed we would be back to try some other items on the menu.

All in all, Saturday was a wonderful day with plentiful eats and spending time with people who matter most.

Question of the Day:  When dining out, do you eat what you want or try to order healthier fare?

Smile! It’s Contagious

Do you ever smile at a baby soon to find them smiling right back?  Smiling is an innate trait that can certainly brighten up another person’s day.  Through observation, I have noticed that people who do not smile have much more miserable attitudes about life in general.  The benefits of smiling far outweigh having a sour face.  According to Dr. Mark Stibich, smiling not only makes us more attractive and approachable; it also signifies confidence, lowers blood pressure, and relieves stress.

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Today my eats definitely put a smile on my face! 🙂 Preparation for breakfast began last night for Strawberry Banana Overnight Oats.

The following mixture sat overnight in the fridge:

1/4 cup of Chobani 0% Greek Yogurt

1/4 cup rolled oats

Splash of 1% milk

Drizzle of honey

Sliced Banana

4 sliced strawberries (added this morning before eating)

1 strawberry for garnish (and consumption)

Creamy & Cold

Make sure you use a large enough bowl if you make this.  The oats expand and I have learned my lesson of avoiding spillage.

Hot Chai Tea + Oats Bowl

Lunch was just as cheerful.

Salad + Crackers

Sorry for the blurry shot.  I made a salad using italian lettuce blend, chopped cucumber, chopped red pepper, 2 sliced strawberries, and 1 ounce of feta cheese.  Dressing of choice was Light Raspberry Vinaigrette.  On side I had 15 Triscuit Wheat Thins.  And the chocolate square went unconsumed and is still in my lunch bag currently in the freezer because it melted in my car while I was at the gym.

Green and Red Make for Beautiful Food Art

Feta Makes Everything Betta 🙂

After work I nibbled on a handful of these on my way to get my “swole” on.

Today’s work out included 15 minutes on the arc trainer, 30 minutes of my usual weight training with the addition of the low row machine.  I finished with 15 minutes on the true strider elliptical and a couple of minutes of stretching.

Keeping with my mood for enlightening food, I made a greek pasta dish that is sure to make you and your belly happy!


These ingredients were included in the dish:

Greek Pasta

1 lb. whole wheat pasta (boiled as directed)

1 cup reserved pasta water

3 tbsp. of olive oil separated

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 pack of sliced mushrooms

1 medium  chopped squash (pre-roasted in oven)

1 cup grape tomatoes (pre-roasted in oven)

6 oz. feta cheese, cubed

1 small can sliced black olives, drained

10 dashes dry oregano

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:  Add 1 tbsp olive oil to saute pan.  Saute onion for 4 minutes or until tender.  Stir in garlic and saute for an additional minute.  Add mushrooms and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water and cook until softened.  Next add pasta, feta, olives, oregano, red pepper flakes, and feta cheese.  Add 2 tbsp. of olive oil and remaining 3/4 cup of pasta water.  Toss well.  Gently add roasted tomatoes and squash.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir to distribute vegetables evenly and heat through for ten minutes on low.

Food That Makes You Smile

Grand Finale

My Dish

I added three sliced spinach leaves for some color on my plate, but certainly could have added spinach to the entire dish.

Greek Goodness

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While we are talking about smiling, some of my students made me smile today.  One girl said, “That’s why I like this class; because we can laugh!”  That made me smile.  🙂  I want my students to enjoy my class; so at times I smile and crack jokes.  Someone once told me, “NEVER smile until after Christmas” in front of the kids.  Who wants to live like that?  I do not want to be miserable and I do not want my students to be miserable because that only leads to more difficulties on both ends.

And another student gave me one of these,

Fleur De Lis Silly Band

AKA Fad Rubber Band Bracelet

….which also made me smile.  🙂

Question of the Night: What is one thing that you do to turn your frown 😦 upside down :)?  What puts you in a happy mood?

Exercising definitely puts me in a better mood.  Also, listening to music helps me cheer up.

The Grown Up Fish

Anxiety of the new school year and going back to work on Monday has settled in.  So I awoke at 6:30 this A.M. and could not go back to sleep.  Needless to say, I have felt exhausted all day and hope to get a better night’s sleep tonight.  I thought maybe a golden yolky fried egg over medium would wake me up, so that is what I cooked for breakfast.  I didn’t have any bread to dip in the oh so tasty yolk, so I devoured (literally) my egg on half of a Flatout Light Original.  I was a bit bummed out as my yolky goodness fell to the plate and I had no bread to lap it up; I need to get to the grocery ASAP for both eggs and bread since I’m all out.  On the side of my b-fast egg (wrap?) I had some sweet, ripened strawberries albeit small which were slightly frozen from settling towards the back of the refrigerator.

Oh Yolk, You Are My Sunshine

I also had a tall cup of iced coffee with stevia and skim milk.

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When I was little, and still as an adult, whenever dining out at a nice restaurant I generally chose the fish of the day.  I remember once in middle school Dad had taken my sister and I to Houston’s for dinner one evening.  I, as always, ordered the fish of the day.  On this day; however, I did not like the taste of the bright, coral colored fish.  As it turns out, it was salmon.  I can’t recollect a time ever when Mom cooked salmon for dinner.  Perhaps there was a reason she never cooked it–it was just too much of a grown up fish.  After that night I’d always associated salmon with a food that adults dine on, similar to my conception of caviar or sardines or brussel sprouts; they’re just not for kids.  So from that day forward through high school and even college, I don’t think I had ever given it another shot.

But as I near age 30, I find my palate for foods have changed.  So through the years, I have come to accept and like salmon in all of its variations–baked, grilled, smoked, and even raw.  That brings me to today’s lunch.

Baked salmon with a broccoli, tomato, hearts of palm salad

I drizzled the salmon with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and minced garlic.  I probably overcooked it, as I always do, because I am never sure if it’s done properly and I do not want to ingest it raw.  The steamed broccoli was leftover in the fridge, so I just added the tomatoes and canned hearts of palm again with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

And a fuzzy peach on side

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Snack at Mom’s

Whole Wheat Crackers + Cheese

Plus 5? tortilla chips and 10? Plain M & M’s

After visiting my mom and 2 year old nephew (love him so much), I headed for cardio at the gym.  Today’s mix of 15, 15, 15 was treadmill, elliptical, and bike for a total of 45 minutes all whilst a brutal thunderstorm passed up above.  Once I got home, it was onto fixin dinner–Peanut Chicken Lo Mein(Spaghetti).  I didn’t measure as I made this, but am giving an estimated amount for the recipe.

Peanut Chicken Lo Mein

1 lb boneless, skinless chcken breast (chopped into bite size pieces)

1/2 lb of whole grain spaghetti (cooked)

1/2 c of celery (julienned)

1/2 c of carrots (julienned)

1/2 c of peanut butter

1/2 c of water

1 tblsp lite soy sauce

1 tblsp rice vinegar

1 tblsp honey

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt + pepper

Garlic powder

DirectionsCook pasta according to package.  Reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water for later.  Whisk peanut butter with next five ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.  Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Heat nonstick pan over medium heat sprayed with cooking spray.  Brown chicken for 7-10 minutes.  Add half of the reserve pasta water if necessary to prevent sticking.  Next, add celery and carrots and cook until tender.  Add pasta to pan and pour the peanut butter mixture in as well.  Toss all ingredients and cook until heated through.  If sauce is too thick add the remaining reserved pasta water.  Add salt and pepper as desired. Enjoy!

Cook pasta as directed.

Reserved pasta water--all of this was not used.

In the sauce

Browning the chicken

Add the veggies.

Finale

Grand Finale

And that’s all she wrote!  Good Night Ya’ll!

Question of the day:  How has your tastes changed from when you were a kid?  Is there a food you could not stand, but now enjoy?

The Verdict Is In

Yesterday I decided to eat dinner since my stomach was feeling hungry.  The verdict–I took out some penne and turkey meat sauce I had in the freezer from a previous meal.  I ate about 1/2 cup of the pasta/sauce mix and a cup and a half of steamed broccoli.  Since I ate such a late lunch, I didn’t want to eat too much for dinner.  

  However, that did not satisfy me, so I had a Chobani Greek Honey.  To be honest, I could not find the honey.  They forgot to put it in.  It wasn’t on bottom, on top, or in between.  So I added a drizzle of my own to the top.

I also had a juicy, fuzzy peach and called it a night.  (Picture not posted.)