Monthly Archives: January 2012

Zucchini Lasagna

I love lasagna! I especially love cleaned-up takes on the tradtionally high-cal favorite. My friend Alyson passed along this zucchini lasagna recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it. I was also pretty excited to make use of another wedding gift, a mandolin slicer, to prep the zucchini.
 
I should mention here that I have a tendancy to trip, stumble, and klutz my way through each day and I was a bit worried about facing the mandolin. After sizing it up, I felt pretty confident and preemptively told myself, “You can even blog about how you mastered this new kitchen tool, accident-free!” 
 
Cut to 10 minutes later when my hand slipped, the safety fell off, and I sliced through my fingertip. Cooper jumped up to my rescue, barking in response to my reactions but there wasn’t much he could do for me. These types of things tend to happen when Chris, a firefighter and EMT, is at work (helping people who’ve had accidents… like myself). I needed his professional opinion so we had a Facetime call (thank goodness for the iPhone!) and he concluded that I was going to be just fine. At his suggestion, I got some gauze, sat down, and took a break.
 
Soon enough, I got back up and running with my newly bandaged finger. I adapted this recipe a bit on the fly, adding chopped spinach in the cottage cheese mixture for an added health boost. Tip: to prevent a soupy lasagna, dry out the zucchini before baking by salting them and waiting for 10 minutes. You will see the moisture “sweat” out. Once you soak up the extra water, you’re good to go!

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced into ¼” thick pieces
  • 10 oz. ground chicken
  • 1 24 oz. jar of low-fat, low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1 package of chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • ½ cup finely shredded 2%, low-sodium mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large frying pan or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until tender.
  3. Add tomato sauce and ground meat, and bring all ingredients to consistent heat for 10 minutes (or until browned). Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Remove from heat.

  4. While meat sauce is cooking, salt the zucchini to remove excess moisture. Soak up excess beads of moisture after 10 minutes.

    Salted zucchini "sweating" out beads of mositure

  5. In a small bowl, slightly beat the egg. Stir in cottage cheese, flour, spinach, and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
  6. Pour ½ tomato sauce into a 13×9 baking dish. Top with a layer of zucchini slices, followed by a layer of cottage cheese mixture.
  7. Cover with the remaining tomato sauce and top with zucchini.
  8. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

  9. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese and bake 10 minutes longer.
  10. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

Flank Steak Roll

Here’s a quick post to share this flank steak roll recipe from Clean Eating. I haven’t had the best track record cooking steak (read: I’ve wasted lots of time and money ruining beautiful cuts of beef), but I decided to give it another try and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

The steak was juicy, the bread crumb mixture was delicious, and it even looked fancy enough for a dinner party. Add a side of couscous and mixed vegetables and you have a rock solid dinner. The instructions for creating the roll look a little complicated but don’t let them turn you away from making it – if I can do it, anyone can! 

Flank steak roll, fresh out of the oven!

Flank Steak Roll with Spinach, Garlic and Toasted Pine Nuts

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko
  • 1 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (see below for instructions)
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 flank steak (1 lb.), trimmed of visible fat
  • 3 oz. spinach leaves (about 6 cups)
  • Kitchen string
  • Parchment paper

Instructions for Toasted Pine Nuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place parchment paper on baking sheet.
  3. Arrange pine nuts in one layer.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Instructions for Flank Steak:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Arrange a rack in a baking pan and coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, combine panko, nuts, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper flakes. Set aside.
  3. Place steak on a work surface. Cut the steak in half horizontally, so that it opens like a book. Spread steak open so that the “spine of the book” is parallel to you.
  4. Spread bread crumb mixture evenly over steak, leaving a 1-inch border along the farthest edge.
  5. Arrange spinach on top of bread crumb mixture.
  6. Beginning with the closest edge, roll steak up, gently pressing down on spinach.
  7. Rotate steak roll so it’s vertical to you and tie crosswise at 1-inch intervals with kitchen string.
  8. Place steak on rack in prepared baking pan and bake until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of steak registers 150°F for medium doneness (about 55 minutes for our oven) or 130°F for medium rare (about 45 minutes for our oven).
  9. Transfer steak roll to a cutting board, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes (internal temperature will continue to rise to about 160°F for medium and 140°F for medium rare).
  10. Remove foil and string and carefully cut steak crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

Pin It

Tagged , , , , ,

Fitness Support Group

Besides gaining control of my eating habits and fitness, there has been another major influence in my fitness journey – in particular, a fantastic support group from the gym that has come together through Kim Pearson’s SGT workouts and group exercise classes. As individuals, we are all so very different – within the group there are a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, careers, and situations that have led us to our common love of fitness.

These women are so passionate about living balanced lives that it never fails to blow me away. When I start to feel overwhelmed with balancing what’s on my plate, all I have to do is think about what others are facing – they’re raising families (from newborns to four active boys!), pursuing passions and high profile careers, going back to school, and generally doing fabulous things while still finding time to workout. If they can get up and make it to a 5:45am workout without complaining, then so can I, dammit!

It gives me chills when I think about how supportive everyone is – when we work out, we all cheer one another on to meeting our fitness milestones. This support extends well beyond the walls of the gym and births, weddings, new jobs, and holidays are all occasions for us to celebrate. It’s not just about the good times, either – we come together to be there for one another’s personal challenges, losses, and tragedies.

The SGT group is truly a unique and special team – we all work together to reach our individual goals and create lasting friendships along the way – and I am so glad to be a part of it! So today, take a few minutes and watch this clip from “The Today Show” featuring Kim and her talent for creating communities through fitness. I think you’ll immediately see why this group is so near and dear to my heart. Enjoy!

Post-taping for The Today Show clip.

Tagged

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

It’s mid-January and it seems like everyone is sick – including myself. I’m usually very attentive to my body when I’m not feeling well, but this time around I was determined to push through – on top of the regularly scheduled craziness, I was headed to Phoenix for a business meeting last week that I didn’t want to miss plus a visit with my best friend who lives in Scottsdale. I could not, and would not, let my progressively worsening cough stop me – westward ho!

Cut to this past Monday when I was walking into the doctor’s office, tail between my legs. The official diagnosis was bronchitis (and at this juncture, I’d like to publicly apologize to my neighbors on the plane ride to and from Phoenix as well as everyone else I met along the way). I dutifully picked up my antibiotics and went home dreading the second half of my prescription: get some rest. Rest? What’s that?

The worst part about having something like bronchitis is that you don’t feel bad enough to wallow in your own sick misery, but you don’t feel good enough to operate at 100 percent. Tuesday morning I called in sick to work and tried to go back to sleep, but with my mind racing, the dog barking, and the sun up… there was no sleep on the horizon. Since I was awake, I figured I’d do what any normal PR professional would on a sick day: I answered some work emails.

A few hours later, I peeled myself away from the computer and finally set about getting some elusive rest. I watched everything on the DVR, played fetch with Cooper for a while, and straightened up the house a bit. OK, now what – watch bad daytime television and reality show reruns? I decided to put my energy to more productive use – since I was sick, I headed into the kitchen to throw together some chicken noodle soup.

Without further ado, here’s my spin on the perennial comfort food – I take a couple of liberties with the more traditional approach by using low-sodium chicken stock, olive oil instead of butter, and swapping out high calorie egg noodles with egg white noodles. This recipe is easy enough for a weeknight and hearty enough to be a stand-alone meal with plenty of leftovers. Stay warm and healthy this winter and try, if you can, to get some rest!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Low-sodium, low-fat chicken noodle soup - delicious!

Ingredients
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 or 3 large carrots, chopped
3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 tbsp. salt
pepper to taste
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or 2 1/2 cups of low-sodium, 2 cups regular)
1 1/2 cups of water (optional) 
half of a lemon
3/4 of a package of egg white noodles
a handful of fresh parsley
whole wheat crusty bread

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium pan over low heat, then add the olive oil.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, salt, fresh pepper, thyme, and bay leaf to the pan.
  3. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Place the chicken breasts on top of the vegetables, then pour in the broth. (At this point, I usually also add about .5 to 1 cup of water to the broth – I prefer my soup to be a little less concentrated.) 
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred into small pieces using two forks; return to pan.
  7. Remove the bay leaf and add the noodles, simmering until noodles are tender. (I love NoYolks – my favorite!)
  8. Roughly chop the parsley and stir it into the soup.
  9. Squeeze in a little lemon juice.
  10. Serve soup alone or with a piece of crusty bread (I highly recommend a piece of the wheat ciabatta bread from New Haven’s Chabaso Bakery – yum!)
Tagged , , ,

Complementary Colors

In true Broadbent fashion, there’s never a dull moment in our house. So, it was no surprise that the same day Chris and I returned from our honeymoon, we found ourselves standing in the kitchen and staring at this guy:

It was last summer when we started seriously talking about the natural step between marriage and children: owning a dog. We were having trouble agreeing on a breed (I wanted a husky, he wanted a lab) but we both thought it wise to wait until this Spring to add anything else to our plates. I had been lobbying for a dog since we moved in together to stand guard on nights that Chris was working and was excited that it was actually going to happen. Planning that far ahead put me at ease – I was looking forward to a quiet post-wedding winter. Then, as these stories go, plans changed.

Chris first spotted Cooper a couple of weeks before our wedding at The Sportsman’s Den, a local bait-and-tackle shop owned and operated by a long-time family friend, Billy. Cooper’s then-owner also stopped in the shop, dog in tow, and was lamenting that she could no longer keep him. She was moving into a smaller place and was going to bring him to the pound if she couldn’t find him a new home. Chris promptly called to tell me about this serendipitous meeting: “Suz, he’s a little white furball and he’s a husky-retriever mix. What do you think?” And just like that – hook, line, and sinker – we started making room in our busy lives for a puppy. Now that it was actually happening, my initial excitement started to turn into anxiety. I began thinking about dog food, toys, a crate, treats, leashes, collars, name tags… all of the things we needed to get ready for Cooper on top of final wedding details. Bringing a puppy home stressed me out more than the last eight months of wedding planning combined and Chris somehow managed to keep his cool. Frankly, I was jealous that he approached all of these moving parts so calmly. And again, as these stories tend to go, everything went off without a hitch – wedding, honeymoon, puppy planning – it’s all a distant memory now. Billy’s aunt fostered Cooper until we got back from our trip and helped us get him started with his shots (thanks, Sue!), I took a page from Chris’s book and let the stress over the wedding details melt away, and we enjoyed what ended up being the last vacation we would take without a major responsibility at home – a puppymoon, if you will. We are as fundamentally different as complementary colors, but I’ve come to realize that it’s finding the balance between my tendency to live, eat, and breathe logistics and Chris’s ability to focus on the bigger picture that makes us work so well together.

Tagged
Health & Fitness

Take Them a Meal

Yesterday I learned that one of the amazing women that I work out with (from the SGT group, more on them in an upcoming post) was in a horrendous car accident – she was lucky to walk away alive and intact, and for that I am so very thankful!

Immediately upon hearing the news, emails and texts started roaring around our group to rally and help our friend in need. Someone suggested we use Take Them a Meal to coordinate healthy and hearty meals for our recovering friend and I just had to share the site. (Thanks, MMM!)

Take Them a Meal allows you to easily coordinate meal deliveries for those in need from those who want to help – and we have all known someone who has needed an extra hand in the kitchen at some point! Whether it is an injured or sick friend, a grieving family member, or new parents – delivering old-fashioned home-cooked meals can lift burdens and speak volumes. So, bookmark them, like them on Facebook, and consider making a donation to the site to keep this fantastic service up and running!

Recipes

Party Spread Defense

No matter what the occasion, I get a little anxious when I go to a party without knowing what kind of food I’ll find in the party spread. I hate eating for the sake of being polite, especially when it’s something outside of my diet, but also don’t want to offend my family or friends by passing on something that they prepared. With the Superbowl coming up, that means lots of tempting party spreads, so I thought I’d share some defense tips from my own game plan and recipes to help keep your Superbowl experience clean and lean: buffalo chicken chili and Greek yogurt veggie dip!
  1. Contribute a clean, healthy dish. Not only will contributing a dish mean less work for the host, but it also helps assuage some of my anxiety since I know that there will be at least one thing I will eat without guilt. 
  2. Extra Workouts. It’s hard to say no to everything, so throwing an extra workout into the mix helps me offset some of the calories and makes me feel a little better about sneaking a couple extra pigs-in-a-blanket (which can pack a whopping 70 calories and 5g of fat in ONE BITE!).
  3. Sharing My Goals. When I’m vocal about my health and fitness goals and tell family and friends how hard I’ve been working, it helps to keep my health top of mind (and politely lets them know that I won’t be upset if I miss all the cheesy dip).
  4. Pre-Eating. Going to a party on an empty stomach is more dangerous for me than going grocery shopping hungry. I try to fill up on clean standards like veggies and grilled chicken or an egg white omelette  before I leave the house.

Enjoy the recipes below!

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Chicken wings are one of my biggest weaknesses in life. To me, the best ones are the least healthy: fried, covered in blue cheese, and served with a beer. Since beginning my clean eating journey, I’ve been on a mission to find a suitable alternative to the bar menu standard and I think I’ve found it in this buffalo chicken chili – it’s easy, healthy, AND delicious.

Topped with greek yogurt and voila - a lean, healthy, hearty chili!

Ingredients
1 T. olive oil
2 lbs. ground chicken breast
3 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 cup hot sauce
15 oz. tomato sauce (no salt added)
15 oz. diced, fire roasted, crushed or stewed tomatoes (no salt added)
Greek yogurt
 
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink.
  2. Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add the chicken stock, hot sauce, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer).
  5. Remove bay leaf and serve.
  6. Top each serving with Greek yogurt to give your dish a protein boost.

Many thanks to The Well-Fed Newlyweds blog, where I originally found the chili recipe via Pintrest.

Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip

Ingredients
12 oz. plain Greek yogurt
Low-sodium onion dip mix (I recommend Goodman’s)

Directions

  1. Mix together Greek yogurt and a couple pinches of onion dip mix.

That’s it. No, seriously… you don’t have to do anything else. A little bit of dip mix will go a long way – if you want to ramp up the flavor, add more mix a little at a time so you don’t overdo it.

Happy cooking and… go team!

Tagged , , , , , , ,
General post

Striking a balance

I am determined to lead a better balanced life. I want it all (or at least, as much of it all as I can get): a successful marriage and (at some point soon) children, a satisfying career, a healthy & fit lifestyle, fantastic relationships with my family and friends, a full night’s sleep, and more… not in any particular order. I’ve been learning the hard way that as lovely as it sounds, your life won’t just “fall into place” without a lot of hard work. Over the last three years, I’ve been doing a lot of re-balancing. Let me tell you a bit about the road that led me to this point…

Three years ago, my days were chock full of things I didn’t find enormously enjoyable but they were a must: wake up, work all day, grad school all night, homework until my eyes crossed, squeeze in a few hours of sleep and… do it all again the next day. I also tried have some fun and socialize with my family, Chris (my then-boyfriend, now-husband), and friends. This schedule left little time for me to focus on taking care of myself; my regular workouts fell by the wayside and I ended up putting on a substantial amount of weight. It was completely my fault, and it shouldn’t have been a surprise since I had quietly been buying bigger clothes while promising myself I’d eat better soon and work out harder the next week.

Time passed and little by little, I started to find some balance – I finished grad school, switched positions at work to my field of choice, and moved in with Chris. Something was off though – I still wasn’t satisfied with my body and health. It appeared I wasn’t the only one who noticed I had put on some weight. The kickboxing instructor at my gym, Kim Pearson, suggested I take her “Body Blast” training class at 5:45am. I agreed, and after the initial shock of a very early wake-up call, I made it through the first class intact! It was hard, and I felt like throwing up, but I was determined to work through the discomfort and kept up with class. Further following Kim’s advice, I started following the Eat-Clean Diet and as I began to revamp my pantry and diet, I quickly learned that the key to my ultimate happiness was controlling how I felt physically and mentally. 

In the midst of my fitness makeover, in January 2011, Chris popped the question and we planned our dream wedding in only 9 months. Initially, the time frame stressed me out and I worried that wedding planning was going to distract me from my fitness goals, but I refocused my priorities and made it work while shedding the dreaded “grad school weight” and then some.

Today, exactly one year later, I am 40 pounds lighter than I was when we get got engaged. I married Chris in a beautiful ceremony and we had a fantastic reception that wouldn’t have been half as much fun if I had still been carrying around extra weight and feeling crappy about myself. We started married life off on the right foot and that pretty much brings us full circle in my story. I’ve emerged on the other side of the last few years a better balanced person with refocused priorities and a lifelong commitment to being healthy.

So stick with me and check in often as I share the things in life that challenge my balance in good ways and bad. In the posts that follow, I’ll be sharing trials, tribulations, and triumphs; recipes and workout woes; and various other ups and downs of my days spent looking for harmony among all these moving parts.

Coming up next… a new twist on buffalo wings, just in time for the Superbowl!

Tagged , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: