Creamy Zucchini Noodles and Chicken Sausage

I tried my hand at Zucchini Chips and I gotta say, every time I made them I burned them…no matter how much I adjusted the thickness. But I still wanted to figure out a way to cook with Zucchini as they’re super low in calories, filled with folate, potassium and vitamin A. I don’t eat bananas so I gotta get that potassium elsewhere! Plus they’re pretty tasty. Zucchini’s are another food that I had never tried before this year! Thanks to this blog I’ve had the opportunity to try so many foods I had not yet tried.

When my sister and her hubby landed in Chicago for Christmas we had to make a quick stop so they could get a white elephant gift for our family Christmas party. What did they pick up? A Veggetti! Oooooo yaaaaaa! We got it all ready to go and headed to the car. The next day when we were wrapping up gifts, my sister realized we didn’t have the Veggetti. It wasn’t in my car, wasn’t in my parents house (luckily my mom got extras for the white elephant exchange). When I got home, lo and behold! There was the Veggetti sitting on my coffee table! YAY! It was quite funny because at my office white elephant party we also had a Veggetti going around and it was THE item to get. We all wanted it! I was going to buy one but thanks to my sister and her hubby I didn’t need to! (she wasn’t too pleased, she wants one now too!)

So I put my Veggetti to good use! It’s pretty easy to use, not super terrible to clean (unlike a cheese grater) and works well to create some tasty Zucchini Noodles!!!

So I whipped up a SUPER tasty creamy zucchini “pasta” dish filled with veggies, chicken sausauge and so much cheese. I just love cheese.

Creamy Zucchini Noodles and Chicken Sausage

Ingredients

3 Medium Zucchini

Package of Chicken Sausage (I used the Spinach/Feta/Garlic Sausage from Trader Joes, it is SO delicious!)

1 Package of Cream Cheese

1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

1 Tbl Garlic

1/4 Cup Onion

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Onion Powder

1/2 Cup Milk

1/2 Cup frozen spinach

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

Fresh Zucchini Noodles

Fresh Zucchini

Pasta Zucchini

Zucchini Pasta

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

Spicy Vinegar Slaw

Vinegar, Pepper, Slaw, Vinegar Slaw, Coleslaw

When I think of coleslaw, I think of a traditional creamy coleslaw…and summer. I normally do not like coleslaw, at least the creamy kind, but recently I was turned on to a vinegar style coleslaw. And I can tell you I can’t get enough. And I definitely don’t think of summer anymore.

I instantly think of a vinegar coleslaw in association with southern comfort food. There’s a restaurant in Chicago called Wishbone, that serves up all the favorites; BBQ, Mac & Cheese, Grits and Cornbread. They also serve up an absolutely delicious vinegar slaw. Its the first thing I eat off my plate! Its light, slightly spicy and a perfect compliment to the heaviness and richness of traditional southern food.

I decided I needed to make my own! And even though I could save this recipe for summer, I decided with all the sugar, rich, comforting foods we eat around the holidays. This is a great light side dish for those mashed potatoes and creamy Green Bean Casserole. I made my recipe with a little extra kick so its pretty spicy!

Spicy Vinegar Slaw

Ingredients

1 Bag of Shredded Cabbage (or you can shred your own)

1 Bag of Broccoli Slaw (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)

1 1/4 C Red Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Salt

1 Tbsp Pepper

1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

1/3 C Sugar

**Optional Ingredients

You could also add onions, peppers, cucumbers or even zucchini if you’re feeling extra ambitious. Or opt for a more colorful cabbage! Purple Cabbage makes a great statement but tends to be  little bitter for my tastes. 

Sugar and Vinegar

Instructions

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Let soak for an hour or so. Enjoy!

slaw

slaw.vinegar

Vinegar.slaw

Vinegar Slaw

This recipe is a pretty big batch. Obviously I could not eat all this in one sitting, let alone probably over the course of a week. So I divided it up into small little freezer containers and tossed it in the freezer. Its perfect for a light lunch, as I literally could just eat this and be totally happy.  It doesn’t taste EXACTLY like the one from Wishbone, but its just as tasty.

This side dish? Only has 108 Calories! So its super healthy for you! It gives ya a little more room to take that extra piece of cherry pie!

How to Climb Back on The Fitness Wagon When You Fall Off!

So my failure to meet my weightloss goals really hit me yesterday. I realized that I’ve really started to slack off on everything in general. I was counting calories, watching what I ate, walking at least a mile a day, and wearing my FitBit daily. Then all of a sudden I just stopped. Even wearing my FitBit!

When it started getting cold out, I started taking the bus, which eliminates my mile long walk to and from work (seriously walking over both the Chicago River AND the expressway = freeze your ass off, the bus is just warmer). Instead of replacing my walk with some sort of other physical activity, I’ve been sucked into the hole of suck that is The Voice, and Peaky Blinders…and Marco Polo starts this weekend too…so there’s that. There’s no activity going on during my binge sessions…unless it involves lifting the dog on the couch or getting one of them to lay closer to me, because you know, snuggles.

I was doing really good with my diet, and even that I’ve fallen off. It’s challenging when you’re heading out to lunch on the regular (even within my lunch budget!) and after a long day of work you just DO.NOT.WANT.TO.COOK. I’ve even started drinking alcohol a little again. Which to my surprise has not resulted in hangovers.

Even though I’m sorely disappointed in myself for completely slacking off the last month. I realized that:

It’s OK to fall off the wagon!

(Unless you’re battling a serious addiction, then no, its not ok. Stay on the wagon!!!) 

When it comes to diet and exercise, in a dream world, we’d all be super commited and never falter and always stick to the plan and routine. But in reality, it doesn’t always work like that! You just have to make sure that when you do fall off…

You pick yourself up, dust the crumbs off your shirt. And climb back up (particularly with with weights attached to your feet, while climbing a rock wall and breaking a sweat) 

Don’t be too hard on yourself. You have to give yourself the opportunity to fail, because if you don’t fail, how can you learn? Mistakes are the BEST way to learn what not to do for the future. Failure is ultimately a part of succes. When I realized that I was really failing my goal, I said ok, well I know that I’m slacking. What can I do DIFFERENTLY this time?

failure, success, The O Guide

So today, I’m looking back at what was working, and what hasn’t worked in me getting in shape and meeting my goals for weightloss. \

Things that worked for me:

Peppers, Eggs, Fresh Produce, The O Guide

  1. The FitBit. It made me super competitive with myself, making sure I reached the 10k steps each day. Now that I’m not walking as much with the cold weather, I need to find an alternative approach to reach those steps.  I just need to start wearing it again. I need a new band and maybe something that will look cute over top of it. Got any suggestions?
  2. Calorie Counting: KINDA. When I was calorie counting I did notice an improvement in my diet. I was more aware of what I was eating and how much. I did manage to get myself down a few lbs this way, but its SUPER hard to keep up with. Even with MyFitnessPal, I have to re-create all my recipes on the site in order to accurately count.  I think in order to really be successful with the MyFitness Pal and counting calories, I have to meal plan and really spend some time entering foods I normally eat.
  3. Taking the train to work. This made a HUGE difference. But in the winter time, its just not going to happen. As much as I’d like to say oh, I’ll stick it out in the cold. When its 10 degrees and you’re walking a mile…the bus that drops you off right infront of the building is a much better option.
  4. Shopping Smart/Eating Clean: I never was 100% eating clean, like probably 80%. We get a lot of catered lunches at work and its hard to do in those instances. But I not only saved a ton of money by making my own sauces, shredding my own cheese, and buying non-processed foods. But I started slipping alot because those pre-mixed frozen risottos and gnocchi from Trader Joes are delicious and super easy to make. I still try to shop smart, and buy as much fresh produce and as many staples I can per week, but I’ve noticed I end up tossing a lot of veggies because I don’t eat them quick enough.
  5. Drinking water. I stopped drinking pop months ago. Occassionally I’ll have a diet coke or an italian soda from TJ’s but its so rare. I even stopped drinking Snapple Peach Tea…

What didn’t work for me:

yoga-118151-m

  1. Yoga in the morning. Ha. EPIC FAIL. I did it for a week, stayed up late one night and haven’t been able to get back on track. It’s incredibly difficult for me to wake up when its still dark. Thats my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
  2. Classes. I so tried. I got two different ones, a Pure Barre (hated it) and a Bikram Yoga unlimited pass for 6 weeks. I had 5 classes of the Pure Barre and went to 2 because I disliked it so much and it was super out of my way. The Bikram Yoga I actually like, it just came at a super bad time. About two weeks in of me going 2-3 times a week, my grandma went into the hospital and then shortly after passed away. So my remaining 4 weeks of my pass were spent me shuttling back and forth to Michigan. By the time I did have time to go, I was so emotionally exhausted I couldn’t even think about it.
  3. Meal Planning. Meal planning is an EXCELLENT way to prep healthy meals and snacks for a week, or a month. For me, it usually fails. If I wasn’t cooking for just myself it may be more successful. But since its just me, eating the same dish for a week straight. I also don’t have the energy or time to plan 7 different meals for the week. I try to make things in bigger batches so I have a few days of leftovers for lunch.

What am I going to try this time around?

IMG_0257

  1. Meal PREP. Not planning since I just can’t get myself to really do the meal planning. I really want to take some time to slice, dice, mince and prep all the veggies/fruits I buy. But also make a weeks worth of breakfast. The Breakfast Bites and Burritos that I made REALLY helped keep me on track. Even though I don’t want to make a ton of meals ahead of time, I do want to start making even bigger batches of things and freezing them so I have a quick grab in the morning for lunch. (Here are a few blogs with some tips on Freezing Produce and Pasta! Or head over to my Pinterest Board for more ideas!) Those quick grab and go breakfasts/lunches keep me from going out to lunch. Going out to lunch = WAY more calories (and dollars!).
  2. Some sort of workout. Whether it be in the morning or evening, a quick 10-15 minute daily workout is all I want and need. I really like this one from FitSugar. Its super quick, easy to do at home with zero equipment.  Since waking up early is most definitely not going to happen, maybe a quick little workout before bed may help me sleep a little better. Popsugar workout
  3. More Water and Green Tea. Even though I really do drink primarily water…ok and coffee. I need to make sure I’m drinking the 64 ounces a day I should be drinking. And some green tea, because its really good for your metabolism.  The water makes a huge difference in my skin and overall health. And if I need some flavor, the green tea should work just perfectly!
  4. Stretch. I do not stretch nearly enough. Stretching like yoga, can help blood flow, reduce pain, increase oxygen and can help you relax. It wakes me up a little when I stretch in the morning…I really must do it more often.
  5. Remind myself daily that I have a goal I want to reach. Whether it be a post it note, a reminder on my phone or something to keep me motivated a daily mantra to get me back into shape will hopefully help!

What other tips do you have for getting back on the fitness wagon when you fall off?