In Need of a Little Motivation…

Even as much as I love working out, and I really find it to be a soothing and freeing experience, with the semester progressing and the workload for all my classes piling up, I find it a struggle to get to the gym, or find enough time to get the workout that I’d really hope to get.  ALSO the weather has been very unfavorable (tomorrow morning’s weather report is showing less than ten degrees WITH WINDCHILL), making the trek from my dorm to the gym very undesirable. Honestly, I find myself more and more wanting to stay in and consume as much food as my cabinets can hold. Which I will admit, I have done more often than not this semester….

HOWEVER, I know this is simply detour in my journey and I hope by voicing it on here that I will start to get back on track! Gotta stay positive and motivated! I mean, spring break and summer are quickly approaching.

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My beloved beach cruiser (left) on one of my many bike trail adventures.

SPEAKING OF SPRING and the promise of warmer weather there are a few things I CANNOT wait to do  including:

  • RUNNING OUSIDE. There is nothing like running outside on a beautifully sunny spring day (ideally with a slight breeze). With a park with a great variety of running and fitness trails located within minutes from my house, I spend a lot of time there when the weather is warm.
  • BIKING. I love biking, more so for leisurely fun than intensive exercise. On spring and summer mornings, my best friend and I will ride on the 30 mile bike trail that ends at the beach. Conveniently, our favorite ice cream place is located right off the trail, and after biking 30 miles, I feel much less guilty about eating my vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles!

What are some of the ways you stay motivated? What can’t you look forward too about the summer? Reply in the comments!

Not Your Grandma’s Lasagna

In my earlier post Proactive “Pizza”, I expressed my experience turning the classic pizza, into a delicious healthy alternative with the use of cauliflower crust. That definitely put me on a kick to try and use veggies as alternative ingredients in my favorite dishes! This week, I took on one of my all time favorites: lasagna, BUT definitely not your grandma’s lasagna, a Zucchini Lasagna.

As you can see from my this and my other posts, for not being even a little bit Italian, I REALLY LOVE ITALIAN FOOD.

Lasagna has been a staple in my house growing up. It was dish that my mom and I would make on a Sunday afternoon and  the left overs would last for the entire week.  Although there are several different elements, from boiling the pasta, making the ricotta mixture, slicing the cheese, and finally assembling it all together and cooking, the somewhat tedious process of making the dish always reminds me of home.

What is great about this dish is that zucchini does not have a pungent flavor and when cooked, it’s consistency allows it to perfectly act as the pasta for the dish. Therefore, cutting out some calories and carbohydrates, while adding a veggie to the dish, who could ask for more?

I came across this recipe on Pinterest (obviously! ) and based my own meal off of it, altering it a little and making it my own, of course!

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Top: My finished product right out of the oven!
Bottom: The first slice of my Zucchini Lasagna with a sprinkle of cracked pepper.

HINTS & TIPS:

  • I am not a fan of ground meat, so I did not include it my version. You could totally use ground turkey, beef, or even tofu to customize the dish to your taste!
  • Tip: Cut the Zucchini a little bit thicker then suggested to give it more of a pasta feel.
  • Hint: Zucchini is made up with a lot of water and when cooked in the lasagna has the ability to make the dish a bit runny if you do not let it sit! So make you follow the directions to salt your zucchini’s after cutting them.
  • Tip: LET IT SIT FOR AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING.  This will let the lasagna cool and allow for all the cheesy goodness to set together.
  • Hint: If you do not have time to make the sauce or simply do not want to, jarred sauce works well with this dish. Personally I used half jar sauce and half the crush tomato sauce adding different textures to the dish, which I really enjoyed! 
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Another picture of the lasagna with a stamp of approval!

Review of the Recipe: I. LOVED. THIS. RECIPE.  5 stars!! Although it was time consuming, it was totally worth it! Being a college student, I now have dinner for the entire week. I might actually like this better than traditional  lasagna (Yes, you read correctly!) because you get all the great flavor, but it isn’t as heavy. This is also a dish that you can customize and make your own, which I love. I will definitely be making this again, and I even sent the recipe to my mom recommending that she try it!

Emergency Crunches

emergencyAs a college student, I look forward to the weekend from the moment I walk into my 8 am on Monday morning.  The weekend is the time to be lazy and a little bit crazy. Whether it be hanging around campus or going out with friends to dinner, a party or a bar, a girl always wants to look her best.  However, we all know the horrid feeling of not looking/feeling our greatest before we leave the house for a night out. Maybe your shirt-pant combination is really highlighting your waist in all the wrong ways, or you are still feeling the bloat from that burrito you ate earlier.  We’ve all been there. This unflattering feeling can totally put a downer on your entire night!

BUT don’t fear because I have found the solution to this menace. And it’s what I like to call the emergency crunch.

Basically whenever you are feeling this way before you are ready to go out you simply do a 3-10 minute sequence of your favorite ab routines (the amount of time is up to you, I personally do my emergency crunches for about 5 minutes).

Not only do emergency crunches make you feel better physically, but they can mentally makes you feel happier.

Emergency crunches are my solution to this problem; however, you can transition this to any body part you wish to accentuate. Emergency squats? Emergency dumbbell curls? THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS.

HERE ARE A FEW OF MY GO TO ROUTINES FOR EMERGENCY CRUNCHES:

Any suggestions? What are your favorites? Leave a comment!

DISCLAIMER: This may not work for everyone. However, I am a firm believer in emergency crunches.

Photo retrieved here 

Proactive “Pizza”

Honestly, I have failed to ever meet someone why doesn’t like pizza. There is just so much to love. It hits every flavor you could ask for and you can put virtually anything on it and it probably will still be one of the best thing you’ve ever eaten.

As much as I wish I could eat pizza everyday, for every meal, for the rest of eternity, if I did, I would most likely be the next star of “My 600-lb Pound Life” and I will not allow that to happen.  I have seen several recipes for healthy pizza alternatives using cauliflower and other vegetable to make the pizza crust.  Even though knowing deep down in my pizza-loving soul that nothing could ever replace the original, I decided to take one of these recipes for a spin.

To the left is the outcome the cauliflower crust “pizza” I made. In which, I based my creation after this great recipe.

NOTE: Although this recipe was a great starting point, I added and changes a few things in order to add a bit more flavor and make it my own.

HINTS & TIPS:

  • The recipe called for 6 cups of chopped cauliflower which is actually a lot more than you would think! When mixing in my stand-mixer, the mixture of the cauliflower, spinach, and other ingredients would over flow out of the mixing bowl at times, making a big mess. Tip: I would suggest that before putting the cauliflower in the mixer to run it through the food processor to break it up into smaller pieces that are easier to mix.
  • After you assemble the crust, you must bake it alone before putting the sauce and toppings on the pizza. Hint: Drawing from my own experience, you really want to make sure that you cook the crust enough alone before you assemble the toppings. Unfortunately I failed to do so, and this left the pizza crust a bit soggy.
  • This recipe calls for fat free cheese. Personally, I do not like to use fat free cheese because they do not seem natural to me, so I used regular Mozzarella cheese and it came out great. Tip: I also added a little bit of Parmesan to the crust mixture to add a little more of that cheesy pizza flavor.

Review of the recipe: I really enjoyed the end product; however, making the crust was a pretty long processed that took me well over an hour. If you have the time to make it, I suggest you do, but this definitely is not a recipe to make when you are on the go.  What I love about this recipe is that it is super versatile. Like normal pizza, you can put anything your little heart desires on it and it will still come out pretty dang good!

Although there will never be replacement of the original, pizza’s healthier cousin is definitely a delicious alternative.

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Food Appreciation

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This peanut butter brownie sundae from the Palace Diner could bring world peace. (Photo taken by me)

I love food, I really do. I am constantly thinking about food (which is better than constantly eating, I guess).  Planning my next meal while I am on Pintertest looking up recipes or watching the Food Network. I can’t even go to the gym without watching the Barefoot Contessa or Giada cook up one of their mouth-watering meals as I run on the treadmill. I don’t just love eating food, I love the emotion that food brings the moment it touches my tongue.  How a fudgey brownie with a molten center can make me feel so euphoric and how a simple garlic shrimp taco, garnished with nothing but purple cabbage and a sprits of lime, can take me to an entirely different place. A majority of the most significant moments of my life were followed by meals fit for a king. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday simply because it’s a non-stop food fest. Food brings people together. How many times do you hear of people getting a divorce or into a physical altercation about different opinions of ice cream flavors or pizza toppings?  I can’t speak for you, but I haven’t heard of many.