Category Archives: Healthified

The Big Diet Myth

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I was never big on New Year’s resolutions until about two years ago.

Gross as it may be, I used to only floss my teeth right before going to the dentist for a cleaning.  I would inevitably get the speech of “you should floss regularly for healthy blah blah blah.”  But one day I actually listened and decided to make a New Year’s resolution to floss my teeth every night for a whole year.  It took a lot of hard work and determination, but I did it!  Now I’m an avid flosser and I’ve kept that resolution (with the exception of a few days) ever since.

Most people make resolutions to be more active and to eat better.  I was one of them.  I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t concerned about my weight.

I ran a lot and tried really hard, but I still wasn’t happy with how I looked.  I would cut calories, but always got discouraged by the lack of results.

My mom and I stretching for a 10K. 2015

One day, I was so upset that I didn’t eat the entire day.  That night I looked in the mirror only to see that my pooch and love handles were still there.   I just felt squishy and hungry all the time.

 

Thankfully, I found a better way.  My definition of eating healthy has changed a lot over the past year because I changed the misconception that was hard-wired into my brain by magazines and media.

I used to eat salads for two meals a day, and try to avoid sweets.  I was always hungry and craving something I couldn’t have.  I love salads, but it’s very hard to get enough calories eating ONLY veggies.  I thought I was being healthy, but nothing could be further from the truth.  I was starving myself, and that isn’t mentally or physically healthy.

I was under the impression that the less I ate, the more I would lose.  

This method for losing weight is widely preached among women, but it doesn’t bring long-term results.  It’s a myth.  You may lose a few pounds but you will inevitably hit a plateau.  That’s because you are in a habitual caloric deficit. Your body realizes that it isn’t getting enough food to continue burning calories efficiently, so it learns how to burn fewer calories to complete the same tasks.   Your metabolism drastically slows down, and you gain weight — even though you’re always hungry.

Thankfully, it’s very simple to reset your metabolism.  It only takes one or two weeks.  Ever since making this one simple change in my diet, I started seeing results.  I’m full.  I’m happy.  And I’m still skinny! I don’t count calories, I eat as much as I want, and I have actually lost inches.

I discovered it’s more about WHAT you eat than how much.  I started cooking for myself every day.  I eat fish, a LOT of chicken breast, veggies, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, avocados, almonds, some fruit, some red meat, protein shakes, and eggs.  I make sure to eat a good amount of protein at each meal so I’m FULL when I finish eating.  I usually don’t even want dessert.  I used to eat 1500 calories a day.  Now my diet is closer to this.

It’s taken most of 2017 to adjust my taste buds, but now I actually prefer healthy food.  Sweets don’t seem as appealing, and when I do indulge, a small amount will usually satisfy me.  Veggies don’t need salt, and sweet potatoes don’t need butter because I’ve gotten used to enjoying their natural flavors.

It took almost a year to get to this point, but I promise you, it’s worth it.  I’m so much happier now that I’m not hangry (hungry/angry) all the time and I’m fueling my body with nutrition.  I encourage you to give it a chance in 2018.

Now I make resolutions like “get a six pack by 2018.”  I never would have dreamed that was even possible a year ago.  But now it’s a realistic goal.

This is just a quick summary, but I wanted to share it with you because of how it’s helped me! I didn’t know it was possible to eat so much food (I eat all the time) and be happy with how I look.  If you want to learn more about tips for eating right, please leave a comment so I’ll know how to post more of what you want to hear!

Here’s one of my favorite recipes for chicken breast to help you get started!  The pineapple juice tenderizes and caramelizes.  It’s great with white rice and roasted asparagus. Be sure to read the notes and give it a try!

-Abby Hughes

Hawaiian Chicken
 
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A great make-ahead meal with minimal prep. Designed for those with a busy schedule. Healthy and delicious! Goes great on salads, in stir-fry, or stand alone!
Author:
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 6-oz. Chicken Breast
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Pineapple Juice
  • 3 TBS Teriyaki Sauce
  • 3 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar or Balsamic
  • 1 TBS Minced Fresh Garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup Hot Sauce (optional) (I like Valentina hot sauce)
Instructions
  1. If you are using large chicken breasts, cut it in half horizontally through the thickness of the breast. This is called butterflying.
  2. Set the chicken aside, and whisk together all remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss chicken in marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 days.
  4. Preheat a pan by putting it on high heat for about 2 minutes. This will help sear the chicken and get good caramelization.
  5. Meanwhile, drain the chicken.
  6. Once the pan is hot, drizzle some olive oil and add the drained chicken (it should sizzle).
  7. Saute for about 2 minutes on each side (or till browned), then reduce heat to medium.
  8. Cook just until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Be sure not to overcook so the chicken will be tender and juicy.
  9. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.
Notes
A food thermometer can keep you from overcooking chicken. Even lean chicken breast is moist and tender when only cooked to 165 degrees. But you should also avoid undercooking chicken so you won't get sick.
Preheating the pan is important. The sugars in the pineapple juice should caramelize and create a nice brown crust on the chicken. Don't miss that step.
This is great for making ahead and leaving in the fridge until ready to cook. This marinade also works well on pork and steak.

 

Bacon and Brussels Sprout Gratin

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Brussels Sprout Gratin

Happy New Year!  Who doesn’t like to start the new year with some healthy new recipes?  I cooked up this skillet of Brussels Sprout Gratin earlier this fall.  The recipe came from Guy Fieri.  Well, not to me personally, but via the Food Network!  The bacon – well that is my addition.  Yum.

I’ve made this a couple of times to make sure it is blog-worthy.  From the first time we ate it we loved it!  I hope you do too.

Sliced Brussels Sprout

I always remove the outer leaf and slice off the bottom of the Brussels sprout. Once done these can be placed in a food processor with the slicer blade, sliced by hand or with a mandoline.  In seconds a whole bag of Sprouts is sliced and ready for the skillet.

You do not have to use a cast iron skillet, an 8″ x 8″ baking dish will do fine.  I just love using my cast iron skillet because it makes the cheese a little crispy wherever it touches the cast iron.  The skillet also creates a bit of crunchy crust to the bottom of this dish.

 When I mentioned I was blogging this recipe tonight to my brussels-sprout lovin’ husband he quickly said, “are you making that again soon?  I hope so!”  Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint my honey.  I’ll be making this again this week!

Happy Cooking!
~Catherine

P.S. Don’t let the heavy cream scare you away from this recipe. It’s only a cup and it takes this recipe right over the top!

Bacon and Brussel Sprouts Gratin
 
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Loaded with a delicious blend of flavors this awesome side dish will have 'em coming back for more!
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pounds brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
  • ¾ cups grated sharp Cheddar
  • ¼ to ½ lb. cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon picked fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Shave the brussels sprouts horizontally into ⅛-inch slices with a sharp knife, mandoline or slicer blade in a food processor. Add to a bowl. Add the Cheddar, cooked, crumbled bacon, flour, thyme, garlic and some salt and pepper to the bowl. Toss to combine.
  3. Add the mixture to an 8- by 8-inch baking dish or cast iron skillet, packing it in. Pour over the heavy cream.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan and oil and pour over the brussels sprouts mixture.
  5. Bake uncovered until the brussels sprouts are tender, the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy!
Notes
The bacon is optional and you can use more or less depending on your taste. The recipe is still excellent without the bacon.

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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I’ve been cooped up at home with mono for the
past three days,  so with all that free time,
I’ve cooked up quite a few recipes I’m excited
to share (avocado brownies being my favorite)!!!

But today I’m sharing homemade hummus!  I love hummus with pita chips or celery sticks and carrots.  It’s a great healthy snack and a tasty addition to a salad!  There are all different kinds of hummus flavors that I like, but I went with Roasted Red Pepper.  I think next time I’ll have to do a garlic lime hummus or taco spices maybe.  It’s really easy to put your own spin on this recipe with whatever spices and flavors you want to use.

I started with two cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), one jar of roasted red peppers, and some olive oil.  I had that in the food processor ready to blend, then I started to get creative. I had about half a cup of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil in the fridge.  That when in.  Then a couple teaspoons of garlic.  Half a cup of lemon juice.  Then I decided to turn up the heat.  So, I tossed in a jalapeño pepper and two heaping tablespoons of cayenne. Some salt and pepper to taste, and it was done!

I love to cook this way.  For something like hummus, you don’t need a recipe.  You can be spontaneous and imaginative and just get completely carried away with flavors.  The important things are chickpeas and olive oil (and in my opinion garlic), but after that, it’s your recipe!

I’m giving you the recipe for my hummus, but I hope you use it as more of a guide to creating whatever you want with the things you already have in your fridge!  That’s what makes it fun!

Thanks for reading!

Abby Hughes

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
 
This is a versatile recipe for hummus that's great for a snack, on a salad, or as an appetizer.
Author:
Recipe type: Healthy Snack or Appetizer
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: approx. 24 oz.
Ingredients
  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans
  • 1 small jar of fire roasted peppers
  • ½ c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1 to 1½ jalapenos roughly chopped with seeds
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic or 3-4 cloves
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs cayenne pepper optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Scrape the sides as necessary.
  3. Taste and adjust seasonings or flavors as desired.

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes

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The frost is almost upon us!  That means it’s time to harvest the herbs!


I work at The Celtic Cup Coffee House in the small town of Tullahoma, Tennessee.  I don’t have my own herb garden, but The Celtic Cup does.  I love getting to use the fresh herbs when I bake quiches, casseroles, and savory scones.

Today I harvested all the basil for the winter months.  If you’ve never processed herbs before, you probably think it’s really complicated.  At least, that’s what I used to think.  I know there are a couple different ways to do it.  Drying herbs actually does take a while, so I prefer freezing them.  I think it preserves the flavors better, too.  It’s really a lot easier and faster than I imagined.  All you have to do is snip the entire plant, wash, pluck the leaves, and freeze  on a towel-lined sheet pan.  After about half an hour, the leaves should be stiff enough to store in a plastic freezer bag for the winter.  It’s that simple!

While we’re on the subject of basil, last week I made some delicious parmesan baked tomatoes.  I love how all the local markets are just bursting with fresh fruits and veggies from the garden this time of year.  I bought some beautiful plump red tomatoes and thought I would get creative.  All they needed was some leftover basil pesto and a hearty sprinkle of cheese.  Voila! Parmesan baked tomatoes! So fast and simple, but delicious and comforting.  They taste like pizza!  You can make them as a side dish or just a healthy snack.

I’m not religiously gluten free or anything, but I think I feel better when I stay away from bread.  So, to accompany the tomatoes, I baked some chicken and made fresh broccoli salad.  This broccoli salad was at my friend’s wedding last weekend.  It was so good I had to make it for myself.

Together it was the perfect guilt free/gluten free dinner!  It only takes about 30 minutes to make, so I hope this meal will find it’s way into your week as a tasty and stress free option!

Abby Hughes

Parmesan Baked Tomatoes
 
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A quick and tasty side dish or snack.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 12 slices
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees.
  2. Thick slice the tomatoes and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan
  3. Spread about a tablespoon (more or less to taste) of basil pesto on each slice.
  4. Bake for about 8 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and broil on high until the cheese is lightly browned (about 4 minutes).
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

Broccoli Salad
 
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A light brunch or dinner side.
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 medium red onion
  • ½ c. Craisins (dried cranberries)
  • ½ c. roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
Dressing
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • ¼ c. white distilled vinegar
  • ½ c. mayo
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
Instructions
  1. Chop broccoli and cauliflower into small bite-sized pieces.
  2. Small dice red onion.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, mayo, salt, and pepper.
  4. Add chopped broccoli, cauliflower, onion, craisins, and sunflower seeds.
  5. Toss to coat all ingredients.
  6. Enjoy!

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