FitGirlsGuide 28DayJumpstart Program: Week 1

I’m sure you’ve noticed a slow-down as far as posts go. I have a good reason! You see I’m currently doing the 28 Day Jumpstart program by FitGirlsGuide. That means for the next few weeks, I will not be posting recipes unless they are ones I’ve cooked up for my family. And if I do post something that centers around me individually, it will mostly consist of notes regarding my health journey and the food experiences I’ve encountered while participating in this challenge.

If you like anything you see, by all means go check FitGirlsGuide out for yourself! Not only do they put together a wonderful meal-plan for you with daily exercises, but there’s a community of supportive individuals who are doing the same challenges as your with similar goals – and best of all, they’re SUPER encouraging. Sometimes that’s what we need most.

I’m only mid-week but since I’ve already experienced each meal that is scheduled for the entire week, I’m going to do a little recap on each entree today. Usually it helps to hear others experiences with food before you know for sure if you want to try something out for yourself. 

Cherry Pie Fridge Oats:
I always look forward to breakfast during week 1 of this challenge because I love Cherry Pie Fridge Oats. They’re delicious, extremely healthy and easy-as-pie to assemble the night before; perfect for those who are on the go super early! I eat mine cold and with a hot cup of coffee after finishing a session on the elliptical. 

                                             Roasted Veggie Power Bowl:
For lunch, you’re given the freedom to pick and choose your vegetables. I like to sample a variety of ways of preparing the Roasted Veggie Power Bowl and in the past have came up with dishes similar to a burrito bowl at Chipotle or chicken fried rice (above)…or I will green it out and pack on the vegetables (also above). However, if you like to just follow the ingredients and instructions to ensure you’re doing the challenge just as it’s been laid out for you; the main recipe is still fantastic! 

Little suggestion – make your own homemade hummus. While store bought hummus is the quick way to go, there’s nothing like the taste of freshly grounded chickpeas and tahini sauce. 

Sweet Potato Street Tacos:

I remember the first time I scanned the Week 1 Menu, I was hesitant at first on if I was going to like the Sweet Potato Street Tacos. Before FitGirlsGuide, I didn’t really eat sweet potatoes. I guess you could say I was a regular stuck up Russet potato kinda-gal. There is truth that you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you don’t actually “get out there” – and the same goes for food tasting. These tacos are delicious! 

So I guess that means sweet potatoes are pretty special; you can’t throw just any ingredient in a corn tortilla and pass it off as a “taco.” 

Pita Pizza:

Truth be told, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like pizza. So I have a hard time believing that someone is going to read “Pita Pizza” and think “Ew, there is no way I am going to like that.” Think of them as individual pizzas on a flat piece of round pita bread that you get to add healthy ingredients to and then cook in the oven for a few minutes. Sound good? No. It sounds GREAT.

Zucchini Bread

With fall approaching, I’m getting the bug to bake more. I’m not sure why I’ve always associated baking breads with fall time. Maybe because of the recipes for all things pumpkins. Maybe because the thought of a warm piece of banana bread with a cup of coffee on a cold morning sounds incredibly appealing.

My SIL gave us two huge zucchinis from her garden: one I plan on using for dinner tonight and the other I baked two zucchini breads out of. Thankfully zucchini bread is favored in this household, even by the pickiest eater on the planet. And since I can’t get everyone on board with the whole white wheat or almond flour, I can make one “family friendly” and one healthy so that everyone happily enjoy a piece guilt free. Just alternate the flour listed in the recipe below to one that suits you best.

Zucchini Bread
Yields 2
This recipe is for two loaves of delicious zucchini bread.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 cup oil
  4. 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  6. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon soda
  8. 3 teaspoon cinnamon
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans and set aside.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, whisking well. Divide among loaf pans and bake for 1 hour, or until top is browned and fully cooked through.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Rigatoni with Kale Meatballs

I hope the word kale being in the post title hasn’t already scared you away. I don’t care much for it myself, especially on it’s own. However, there are a few exceptions and this meatball dish just so happens to be one of them. Luckily, I didn’t skip this meal in our weekly recipes selection and gave it the benefit of the doubt. I guess there are times when kale CAN be delicious.

We get HelloFresh twice a week when we are home. I’ve learned how to cook some healthy, delicious dishes with food combinations that I would have never imagined went well together. And a lot of those containing ingredients that I have stuck my nose up at my entire life. I’ve found that I actually REALLY do like roasted zucchini and green beans. Dejavu back to being a kid and trying stuff for the first time, only you’re a little more mature and less likely to throw a tantrum when it’s presented on a plate in front of you.

So if the word “kale” still has you feeling unsure, I’ll be completely honest with you: You can’t even taste the kale, so come back, read on and try this recipe for yourself.

 

Rigatoni with Kale Meatballs
Serves 4
A delicious and easy homemade marinara sauce topped over rigatoni pasta. The traditional meatball recipe comes packed with an extra special green guest: kale! Did meatballs just get a little more healthy?
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 yellow onion, diced
  2. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 1½ cups kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
  4. handful of fresh basil leaves
  5. 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  6. 1lb ground beef
  7. ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  8. 12oz rigatoni pasta
  9. ½ cup parmesan cheese
Meatball Seasoning
  1. 8 teaspoons dried oregano
  2. 8 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  3. 4 teaspoons dried basil
  4. 4 teaspoons dried marjoram
  5. 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  6. 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
Instructions
  1. Using a small bowl, combine all meatball seasoning ingredients and momentarily set aside after whisking well.
  2. Add ground beef, breadcrumbs, kale, a pinch of salt and pepper and meatball seasoning mixture to a medium size bowl. Combine ingredients well using clean hands. Shape into 1½-inch balls and place on a plate. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, stirring occasionally until fully al dente at around 10 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water and drain the rest.
  4. While pasta is cooking, heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large deep skillet over med-high heat. Add onion, cooking until fragrant and transparent; about 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, cook for an additional 2 minutes and then crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until sauce appears to have thickened, around 5 minutes.
  5. Using a slotted spoon, carefully add meatballs to sauce mixture. Increase the heat to medium and cover; cooking about 5 minutes on each side or until meatballs are fully cooked through.
  6. Divide rigatoni pasta between 4 plates, adding marinara and meatballs on top. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves for extra taste.
Notes
  1. If sauce appears thick, add the ½ cup of pasta water.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Cajun Chicken Salad + Cajun Dressing

Hello, Monday! I’m starting the week after a meal-prep win Sunday. This week’s mornings will be filled with fruits and vegetables that come in a green juice and my lunch; more vegetables and grilled cajun chicken with this delicious creamy cajun dressing. Less coffee. More water. (Good luck to me on that)

I am pretty stoked about the cajun chicken , I haven’t made anything similar in quite sometime and I’m in need of a week full of salads for lunch. But since I like my cajun food mildly spicy, I tend to opt for making my own seasoning here at home. You can always just buy the spice at your local grocery store if preferred. I just like to be able to control just how much spice I’ll get, plus most of the ingredients are staple spices that you most likely already have on hand.

Cajun Chicken Salad + Cajun Dressing
Serves 4
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Salad
  1. 4 cups romaine lettuce
  2. ¼ of a red onion. thinly sliced
  3. 1 cucumber, sliced
  4. 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  5. 1 avocado, sliced
Chicken Seasoning
  1. 1 tablespoon paprika
  2. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  3. 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  4. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  5. 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. 1 teaspoon black pepper
Cajun Dressing
  1. 1 teaspoon cajun dressing
  2. 2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  3. 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. Combine spices to make cajun seasoning, leaving 1 teaspoon aside for dressing. Rub all-over both sides of chicken breasts, covering well.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cooking each side about 5 minutes or until cooked through; about 10 minutes total. Set chicken on a plate off to the side to cool off slightly. Slice chicken.
  3. In a large bowl, add romaine lettuce, onion slices, cucumber, tomatoes and avocados. Add sliced chicken on-top, drizzling cajun dressing over. Divide into 4 portions.
Adapted from Cafe Delites
Adapted from Cafe Delites
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Banana Protein Power Bites

Ever get tired of the store bought protein bars? Some are good and some are really bad. I used to buy a few and store them in the glove department for when I was on the move; you know, just incase I got hungry mid-day and the only thing nearby was something that would probably take me an hour or more to work off later in the day. 

These days I prefer to see firsthand what is in the food I eat. I’ve noticed I am a lot less fatigued since I quit the fast meal, heavily processed stuff. These little protein bites are perfect to make if you need a quick recipe or just want something different than fruit/veggies for a snack. 

I’ve made some no bake protein balls before and they went pretty quick. This time I added banana to the mix to give a little more moisture for the oats. They weren’t as firm as the previous recipe without banana, but they held up just as well with taste. Banana, chocolate and peanut butter are a recipe match made in heaven if you ask me.

 

Banana Protein Power Bites
Yields 12
Pretty incredible little ball of protein for those who enjoy bananas, oats and peanut butter.
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup natural creamy peanut butter
  2. ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  3. very ripe banana, mashed
  4. ½ teaspoon chia seeds
  5. ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 1 tablespoon mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Mash your ripe banana in a small bowl using a whisk.
  2. Add all ingredients to a medium size bowl. Mix well, either with a wooden spatula or clean hands. Using a tablespoon to scoop, roll into individual ball shapes and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Add cookie sheet to fridge for at least an hour to firm. Replace protein balls into a plastic airtight container and store in fridge.
Notes
  1. This recipe can be doubled.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

White Whole Wheat Banana Bread Recipe + New Mixing Bowls

I’m gonna start this post by gloating about how much I love these new Rae Dunn mixing bowls that my sister found for me. If you’re familiar with any of Rae Dunn’s stuff, you’ll know that the mixing bowls are one of her newer released items and they’re extremely hard to find. They’re so dang cute and my own personal collection is so close to being complete.

Bonus – I’ll be using the heck out of these! 

Moving forward – on Saturday, I fiddled around trying to figure out breakfast and came to the conclusion that all those super ripe bananas I had sitting on the countertop (we’re talking 10+ medium size bananas) needed to be used. I decided 6 would be used for Banana Nice Cream (recipe to be blogged in the future) and the other 4 were going to help me create this delicious and healthy Banana Bread that I could enjoy over the course of the week. Plus I am on flour overload over here.

I’ve switched to using White Whole Wheat Flour verses the regular All-Purpose Flour. The health benefits behind White Whole Wheat are pretty remarkable – all those nutrients that are stripped of the bran when producing All-Purpose Flour, remain there and fully intact with White Whole Wheat Flour. We’re talking fiber, calcium, iron and more. If that isn’t enough to convince you to switch over – how about this? White Whole Wheat Flour improves body metabolism.

You had me sold at “metabolism.” Get you some.

And because it’s already been asked – “What’s the purple in the bread?” It’s called cooked banana slices. It’s okay. It’s edible. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s just banana.

White Whole Wheat Banana Bread
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. ¼ cup honey
  2. ¼ cup coconut oil
  3. ¼ cup brown sugar
  4. ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 3 large ripe bananas, mashed
  8. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  9. ½ teaspoon salt
  10. 1½ cups white whole wheat flour
  11. 1 large ripe banana, sliced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Well grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Using a large mixing bowl, add honey, coconut oil, brown sugar, greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla extract, baking soda and salt. Whisk well.
  3. Next add mashed bananas. Whisk well again.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, slowly add flour to mixture. Stir well, it'll be slightly clumpy - thats okay. Add banana slices, gently folding them in to mix with everything else.
  5. Pour into loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan and serving.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

I spent the middle of my March Madness-on-a-Saturday afternoon online looking for some new healthy recipes for the week that I could give a try. Pinterest never fails, I found this easy (and super delicious) recipe from Gimme Some Oven that I just had to prepare for my lunches. Not only does it include just a few simple ingredients – the dressing is extremely tasty and blends well with the pasta and vegetables.

Meal prep keeps me on my toes. I’ve always believed that if you don’t plan accordingly, you’re setting yourself up to potentially slide off the path. 

Luckily – this pasta salad holds well for several days. Prep away.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Serves 4
Quick take on a Mediterranean style pasta dish that's best served cold.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 12-ounce box of farfalle pasta
  2. 1 English cucumber, diced
  3. 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  4. 4-ounces crumbled fat-free feta cheese
  5. half of a medium size red onion, sliced thin
Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
  1. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  2. 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best!)
  4. 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  5. 1 teaspoon organic honey
  6. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  9. small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta accordingly. Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta can be handled.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare lemon-herb vinaigrette dressing by whisking all ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using a large bowl, add your pasta, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion slices. Mix well. Carefully fold feta cheese into mixture, followed by drizzling the lemon-herb vinaigrette dressing overtop. Toss salad well so that dressing is evenly spread.
  4. Divide between 4 bowls and serve with additional feta cheese if desired.
Notes
  1. The original recipe calls for olives. I don't care much for them, but if you do, feel free to add a handful to the ingredients.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/

Banana Bread Donuts

For years I had a staple recipe for banana bread that I used. I made it so often that not only did I know the ingredients by heart, but I probably could have prepped the entire thing blind-folded. It’s unfortunate that it was also super unhealthy. So I did a little research and I tested for a recipe that I could happily indulge with and at the same time not feel entirely guilty. And then I decided – let’s give an even more fun twist and create donuts out of it!

I have a donut pan – so yes, I cheat just a little when it comes to donut making. I’d like to give the ol’ make em round yourself a try but haven’t done so yet. If you don’t have your own donut pan, you can pick them up just about anywhere (Target, your local grocery store) for under $10. That’s a bargain if you’re a donut lover or live in a house full of donut eaters. 

AND – If you just aren’t into the donut thing at all, you can absolutely use this recipe as one for banana bread and just prepare in a loaf pan. Increase your cooking time to 50-55 minutes (it varies depending on your oven) or until the toothpick comes out clean as a whistle.

Enjoy!

Banana Bread Donuts
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
22 min
Total Time
32 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
22 min
Total Time
32 min
Ingredients
  1. 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  3. 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
  4. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  5. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 2 egg whites
  7. 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3-4 medium bananas)
  8. ¼ cup applesauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Well grease donut pan and set aside.
  2. Using a medium size mixing bowl, sift all dry ingredients; flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Mix well.
  3. Next add mashed bananas, applesauce and egg whites to a medium size bowl. Mix until bananas are well blended with applesauce and egg whites. Slowly add to dry mixture, making sure to stir constantly until combined well. Pour evenly into pan, about ¾ full.
  4. Bake for 22 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Notes
  1. If you are absolutely anti-sugar, you can try substituting with honey. I'm not sure what the results will be because I haven't personally tried it yet. If you do, let me know!
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/
 

15 Minute Garlic Croutons

Have you ever passed by the marked down aisle of food at the grocery store and wondered what you could do with any of the marked down bread? So much! Yesterday I bought a bag of french loaf pieces that was marked down to 49 cents with the intentions of making croutons out of it. I’ve got a salad planned for my lunch this week, as well as a soup and croutons go well with both.

Anyone can make their own croutons with just 4 basic ingredients and an oven. Add some spices or parmesan cheese to give them a more flavorful taste to match whatever entree you have planned to incorporate them in. I promise you won’t buy store brand croutons again!

Homemade Garlic Croutons
Yields 4
You can make your own croutons with just 4 ingredients and an oven.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups of bread, cut into small cube shapes
  2. ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  3. ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  4. 1/3 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Add bread cubes to a large bowl. Sprinkle both garlic powder and sea salt overtop, gently stirring. Next drizzle olive oil overtop and carefully fold; making sure to coat all bread.
  3. Using a cookie sheet, add bread; spreading out evenly so none overlap. Cook for 10-15 minutes depending on how quickly they brown.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before adding to your recipe or storing in a gallon size ziplock bag.
fitgirlnic http://fitgirlnic.com/