Thursday, February 27, 2014

'Six Pack' March

The February Fitness Challenge is finally over...... whew! Give yourself a big pat on the back if you finished all those push-ups and squats, it was not an easy challenge! At the beginning of the month, I struggled with my regular push-ups... and today I busted out 6 sets of 15 standard push-ups like it was no biggie. Not only can I see a change in my arms and shoulders (they are more toned) but I also feel MUCH stronger in my arms and core. These monthly challenges do work!

Read more about the February Fitness Challenge here: 'Fit February'



With swimsuit season around the corner, I thought it was was only appropriate to do a mid-section and ab fitness challenge for the month of March. The 'Six Pack' March challenge consists of planks, sit-ups, reverse crunches, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches to work your upper and lower abs. :) The reps increase a couple times during the month, so make sure to keep the Fitness Challenge calendar handy!

As always, you can add on reps or make the exercises harder if you feel you need the extra challenge. I am going to continue to do a few reps of exercises from previous months' challenges (squats, push-ups, tri-dips) during the day to mix it up.

'Six Pack' March.... Let's do this!




For a printable calendar, go to our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SistersDoFoodAndFitness... and while you're there don't forget to 'Like' us!
You can also follow us on Instagram: sistersdofoodandfitness
#SixPackMarch #sistersdofoodandfitness

Good luck Fitness Challengers! :)


And don't forget... abs aren't just made in the gym (or home 'gym'), they are made in the kitchen too! For results, you have to exercise AND eat healthy. For healthy recipe ideas, check out our recipe index page... lots of ideas for breakfasts, lunches, dinner, desserts, and snacks!


Xo,
Janel

Sunday, February 23, 2014

No Sugar Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes

It's another addition of Pancake Sunday! On the menu this morning.... No Sugar Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes.

This delicious no-sugar pancake recipe is actually a version of our Healthy Applesauce Oatmeal Pancake recipe! While I was out for a run this morning, I got the idea to use the blender to pulverize old-fashioned oats to make an oat flour to substitute for some of the white flour the pancake recipe called for. I wanted my pancakes to be healthy, light and fluffy but using old-fashioned oats whole can make the pancakes on the denser and heavier side. So I decided to try the blender to make the oats into an oat flour... and mix the pancake batter... and it worked!!!



These No Sugar Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes turned out moist, hearty, just-sweet-enough, with a nice texture from the chopped apples. They are filling, but not too dense. Using the blender to make the oat flour, mix the pancake ingredients, and pour the batter made clean-up a breeze. Another Pancake Sunday success! Yum.

Note - You could use oat flour if you have it! 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats yields about 1 cup of oat flour.

No Sugar Apple-Cinnamon Pancakes
based on a recipe from tasteofhome.com

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup fat-free milk (I used vanilla soy)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped apples

Directions:
Pour the oats into a blender. Pulse until oats are ground into a flour-like texture.


Add the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and cinnamon to the blender. Pulse for a few seconds.

Next add the milk, applesauce, egg whites, and vanilla to the blender; pulse until mixed. Scrape the sides of the blender and mix again.


Stir in chopped apples.


Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a heated griddle coated with cooking spray. Cook until bubbles appear on the top; turn and cook until lightly browned.


Makes about 10 pancakes.




These pancakes are DELICIOUS!!!! A great way to start the day... :)

Enjoy!

Janel

Friday, February 21, 2014

Product Review: Safari Crunch Granola

In the past I have stayed away from granola... although it is SO delicious it is usually also packed with calories, fat, and refined sugars.


Well recently, I found out that a co-worker of mine (on her own amazing weight loss journey) has been purchasing a delicious lower calorie, low sugar granola from a local vendor for months. She found Safari Crunch at a farmer's market and immediately became a repeat customer, purchasing her bags of granola in bulk and having them shipped to her. One day at work, she received a granola shipment which included a sample size bag that she gave to me to try. Long story short... I was immediately sold on Safari Crunch!!

Now that I have tried all four crunchy, delicious flavors of Safari Crunch, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my thoughts on the product with my food-and-fitness minded friends.


The Nutty Njala - The original flavor, also the sweetest and most popular. It is great with Greek yogurt! The "secret sauce" in the Nutty flavor is a sugar cane syrup that is imported from England. The owner and operator discovered this cane syrup in a granola he enjoyed while on Safari in South Africa.

Cherry Cheetah - This flavor is made with a California brown rice syrup, a touch of wildflower honey, but no refined sugar. Dried tart cherries give the blend a savory taste. Very low in sugar (3g/serving) and is popular with everyone who prefers a less-sweet granola.

Fun Fact: Cherry Cheetah was named by a female marine, Captain Kate, while she was stationed at a forward operation base in Afghanistan. She commands a marine attack helicopter.

Berry Snakey - This favor is semi-sweet; a delicious blend of cranberries, raisins, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds made with tapioca syrup. No refined sugar, great crunch! This is a hearty, filling blend (2g of dietary fiber and 2 g of protein/serving).

Papaya Panther - This flavor is gluten-free, low glycemic, and oh-so tasty! Gluten-free oats, corn flakes, cashews, dried papaya, dried pineapple, and a touch of coconut combine in this savory, crunchy flavor. Made with blue agave syrup.



The best part.... all the flavors of Safari Crunch Granola are UNDER 100 calories per serving (1/4 cup) and very low in sugar, calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. All sweetners used are natural, no refined sugar. I completely believe in this product; great price, quality, great 'lower-sugar, only-good-for-you ingredients' mission, and it's DELICIOUS.

Want to get your own bag of low sugar, lower calorie granola??
Visit Safari Crunch on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/safaricrunch
or
Go to Safari Crunch at http://safaricrunch.com/




Granola facts from Safari Crunch's website - love this!

Ways to Eat Granola:
  • Snack straight from the bag
  • Use as trail mix while hiking or biking
  • Cold cereal with fruit and dairy, soy, rice or almond milk.
  • Add some crunch to your yogurt
  • Ice cream topper
  • Mix into a cookie recipe
  • Punch up your smoothie
  • Add to your dinner salad
  • Topper for pancakes and waffles
  • Spread on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Great with hot oatmeal
  • Add to your holiday stuffing

Good Stuff About Granola:
  • Natural grains and bran are high in dietary fiber and minerals good for the body!
  • Nutritious eatable seeds contain many valuable minerals such as zinc, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and the list going on and on.
  • Did you know coconut while rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals is also used in many traditional medicines to treat a wide variety of health problems?
  • Tree nuts are a great source of protein and healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids. They also contain complex carbohydrates which the body burns for lasting energy.
  • Dried cranberries are a good source of many minerals, vitamins, and fiber. They also help strengthen the immune system, treat urinary tract infections, and because of the calcium in the berries actually fight tooth decay.
  • A few raisins a day will surely keep the doctor away. Raisins help with constipation, Acidosis, anemia and your libido because of the Arginine content in these little beauties.
  • Like it or not, genetically engineered foods have become extremely common and a growing source of concern. Expeller pressed Non-GMO canola oil is a healthy choice to offset the genetically altered concern and, by the way, canola oil is high in monounsaturated fats.
  • Did you know Flaxseed helps reduce total cholesterol, lowers blood sugar levels, and is high in natural lignans which are cancer protective compounds.
  • Lastly and most importantly, granola tastes great.

Here is a link to a profile on Safari Crunch in the San Diego Union Tribune:
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2012/sep/17/crunchy-granola-bitchin-sauce-meet-4-san-diego-foo/?page=1#article

Enjoy!

Janel

Healthy Banana Walnut Muffins

It seems like we always have a couple over-ripe bananas lying around. I am not very helpful in consuming our weekly bunch of bananas (I have a banana allergy), which means I get to watch Amy try a new baked-good recipe with over-ripe bananas about once a week! Her banana muffins always smell sooooo delicious when they are in the oven... but this batch of Healthy Banana Walnut Muffins smelled exceptionally tasty. I almost considered trying one!



The methods are very different for this recipe, you use a blender to "blend" the ingredients together instead of blending them by hand (this breaks down the oatmeal into more of a flour-like texture). The blender makes it easy to pour the batter into the muffin tin too! These Healthy Banana Walnut Muffins turned out moist and soft, with a bit of added crunch and texture from the walnuts. You could even replace the white sugar with honey for a healthier version! These low-fat, hearty muffins are perfect for breakfast or a snack. Yum!!

Healthy Banana Walnut Muffins
based on a recipe from britneymunday.com

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups of old-fashioned oatmeal
2 bananas
2 eggs
1 cup of vanilla flavored fat free yogurt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add all ingredients to a blender starting with wet ingredients first; blend on high for a couple minutes. Let the mixture sit for a bit so the oats can soften up, then a blend for another couple of minutes. 

 

Grease a muffin tin with cooking spray. Pour batter into muffin tin until each well is about 3/4 full (should make 1 dozen). 


Bake for 22-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown. The muffins tops will sink in once out of the oven, this is normal.


Let sit for 5 minutes in pan then transfer to a cooling rack. Once cooled, place in an airtight container.

Store in refrigerator (see tips below).

Tips: 
You can store these muffins in a zip lock back with a folded paper towel sheet (the paper towel soaks up the moisture) so they don’t get soggy. 


I wish I could have tried these banana walnut muffins... they smelled and looked delicious. According to Amy, the banana muffin expert, these are super yummy and very filling! They make a great grab-and-go breakfast or mid-day snack. :)

Enjoy!

Janel & Amy

Monday, February 17, 2014

Eggless (or Egg-free) Pancakes

Sunday morning fail... it was pancake day and we were out of eggs! Oh no. How do you make pancakes without eggs? Is it really possible to make fluffy, light pancakes without eggs? What do I use as a substitute for eggs? As I sat pondering these questions, I did a search on the internet (of course) and came across a yummy-looking recipe for Eggless Pancakes on Food.com. With some healthy adjustments to the original recipe, I was able to create a batch of fluffy, moist, delicious pancakes WITHOUT eggs! Crisis averted.




'Pancake Sunday' was saved with this egg-free recipe. In fact, Amy said these were her favorite pancakes so far! So no need to run out to the store in your pj's if you are out of eggs, a tasty batch of pancakes can be made without them... and I bet your loved ones won't even be able to tell the difference.

Eggless (or Egg-free) Pancakes
Makes about 12 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, optional
  • 2 cups vanilla soy milk, light (or you can use fat-free milk)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Heat griddle or large pan over medium heat on the stove top.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add soy milk, water, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well; but don't over-stir (a few lumps are ok).

Drop 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto griddle or pan.


Flip the pancakes when bubbles begin to form. Keep heat to medium or medium-low; the pancakes can burn easily.

Serve warm! (with some butter and syrup, yum)



Enjoy... I know we sure did. :) 'Pancake Sunday' just keeps getting better and better.

Previous Pancake Sunday recipes included:
Zucchini Bread Pancakes'Carrot Cake' Pancakes, and Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Stay tuned for a new recipe next week!


- Janel

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

If you like Oreo cookies, you'll love these Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies! They have a crunchy, delicious cookie outside... and a soft, creamy filling on the inside.


Not to mention, they are very easy to make and only require a few ingredients (including box cake mix and pre-made frosting)!


These Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies turned out super cute... perfect for Valentine's Day!

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
Recipe by Ducan Hines

Ingredients:
1 box Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup butter
1 can Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:
Melt butter; set aside to cool. Place cake mix, egg, cooled butter and vanilla in large mixing bowl. Mix by hand until well blended and dough is formed.

Form dough into a smooth 12" log on wax paper or parchment making sure it is even in thickness end to end. Wrap in wax paper; seal in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Note - if you refrigerate overnight, let sit out about 10 minutes before attempting to cut or else the dough will crumble.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease baking sheets. Unwrap dough log and set on wax paper. Using a sharp knife, cut into 48 slices about 1/4" thick. (You want the cookies about Oreo size) Place on cool baking sheets about 2" apart.


Bake, 1 sheet at a time, in center of oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.


Spread frosting on half the cookies. Top each frosted cookie with another cookie. Gently press together. Roll in mini chocolate chips to coat cream cheese frosting rim of cookie (optional).



Yum!

Next time I'm going to try this recipe using my own cream cheese frosting, I don't think the stuff in the can really tastes like cream cheese. And I will definitely make the cookies smaller, more like Oreo size, as mine turned out about the size of a oatmeal cream pie/whoopie pie. But this is a fun, delicious cookie recipe... great for a party or Valentine's Day!

Enjoy!

- Janel


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza

I <3 pizza... it's definitely one of my guilty pleasures. Amy and I had been wanting to try a grain-free, cauliflower pizza crust for awhile now... and with Valentine's Day right around the corner, a heart-shaped pizza was definitely a must! Seriously, how cute is this pizza?!


I wasn't sure what to expect from this cauliflower pizza crust recipe from The Lucky Penny Blog that I found on Pinterest, but it claimed to be "the best" so I decided to give it a try.


Ok, cauliflower pizza crust is super easy to make... and tastes absolutely DELICIOUS!!! You don't even miss the regular, doughy pizza crust. I am pretty sure I will be making all my pizzas with a cauliflower crust from now on... it's SO GOOD! Now I can feel better about indulging in pizza more often...

Grain-Free Cauliflower Crust Pizza
recipe from www.theluckypennyblog.com
makes one approx. 10-12 inch pizza

Ingredients:
1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower - should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of crushed red pepper, optional
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg
Desired amount of sauce, cheese for topping, and other toppings.

Directions:
Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don't have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

Wash and thoroughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Cut off the florets. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower. You should end up with 2 to 3 cups of cauliflower "snow".


Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave for 4 minutes. Pour cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring all excess water out of it. (This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly mess)

Pour wringed out cauliflower into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and a dash of red pepper, optional.


Add your egg and mix well. Hands tend to work best. 

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down thoroughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don't make it too thick or thin either.


Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 - 11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.


Add pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings!!



Slide parchment with topped pizza back in the hot oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.


Allow it to cool for a minute or two. Then using a pizza cutter and a spatula serve up your delicious grain-free cauliflower crust pizza!

YUM, YUM, YUM.....

I probably could have eaten that whole pizza myself, seriously. I can't wait to have this cauliflower pizza crust again! I wouldn't change a thing... except maybe make a double batch next time. ;)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Xoxo,
Janel

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Baba Ghanoush

For dinner tonight we made Slow Cooker Tikka Masala, an Indian dish where pieces of chicken are cooked in a creamy and aromatic tomato sauce! Keeping with the middle eastern theme, I also made a batch of this delicious Baba Ganoush to dip some pita chips in.




If you have never heard of Baba Ghanoush (also spelled baba ghanouj)... it's a classic smoky, garlicky Middle Eastern roasted eggplant spread. It's much like hummus, except it's made from roasted eggplant instead of chickpeas. Baba Ghanoush is absolutely delicious! Spread some on naan bread, pita, or use to dip vegetables. It's a low calorie, guilt-free snack.

Baba Ghanoush
recipe from www.food.com

1 large eggplant
1/4 cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Directions:
Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill rack 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, 10 to 15 minutes.


Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.

Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork (I used an emulsifier), mash the eggplant to a paste. Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.



Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.

Serve at room temperature.



If you like hummus... you have to try Baba Ghanoush! It's a great dip for naan bread, pita chips or veggies.

Enjoy!

Janel

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

We love trying new slow cooker recipes out on the weekends... it's so easy to prep in the morning, turn on the slow cooker, add ingredients, and forget about it until dinner time. We have made quite a few slow cooker chilis, soups, and stews so we decided to try something totally different today!




Chicken Tikka Masala, tender chunks of chicken cooked in a creamy, aromatic tomato cream sauce, is probably one of the most popular dishes on any Indian restaurant menu here in the states. Now you can have it at home, with barely any work! It's sooo delicious. Serve with rice or warm naan flat bread.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
original recipe from thelemonbowl.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cubed
  • 1 medium onion – diced
  • 15 oz can coconut milk – light
  • 1 cup plain yogurt – low fat
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger root
  • 2 garlic cloves – grated
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne 


Directions:
Place cubed chicken breasts and diced onion in the bottom of a slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut milk, yogurt, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, garam masala, cornstarch, salt and cayenne.


Pour mixture over the chicken and onion and stir well.



Cook on Low for 6 hours or High for 3 hours. Serve with basamati or brown rice.




Wow, this was one super flavorful, exciting slow cooker dish!! Your house will smell amazing too... so many aromatic spices in this recipe. We will definitely be making this Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala again. YUM!!!

Enjoy! :)

Janel