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Great News on the Healthy Chicks Front: The Books Have Arrived!

24 Dec

Happy Christmas Eve all! Besides the fact that this Christmas season has already brought me much joy  (a boy I’m dating whom I kinda sorta really like, wonderful family reunions, SNOW, sisterly chats, more SNOW, and tasty eats, it’s also brought me a very special package that arrived just in time. What is this mystery package, you ask? Why, it was a big, big cardboard box filled with 25 of my very own “Healthy Chicks in the Kitchen” recipe books. 

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been working on these recipe books for some time now – from writing the intro and table of contents to coming up with fun titles and descriptions of each recipe. Oh, and I’ve also been busy cooking…gotta test ’em out, right?

Anyway, they finally came in the mail late Wednesday night, and after my mom and I ripped open the package, stared at the front cover, and flipped through the book (multiple times), I think it was safe to say I was oozing with happiness. I couldn’t – and still can’t – believe that I designed these babies all by myself, I came up with every single recipe in the book (all 64) and I was on the front cover. Me. With my full name. WOW. Now that’s a good feeling you can’t just get from anything. 

Naturally, my mom wanted to take some to work to sell for her daughter (she owns a pretty sweet hair salon), so she laid them out nicely in a big pretty basket with tissue paper to take with her to work yesterday. I signed them of course so they’d have that personal touch… What I didn’t realize was that by the time I came to visit her yesterday evening, she would have already sold SEVEN of them. How neat? Seven people have my recipe book on their kitchen counters as we speak. I’m getting chills just thinking about it. 

Well, just thought I’d give you a little update on the Healthy Chick front before things get crazy with the family/the food/the presents/and the additional food. Happy holidays to all. I wish you all a warm, healthy, happy, merry Christmas : ) 

XoXo,
Rachel

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Cross the Coast Trail Mix

14 Dec

YAY! The day has finally arrived. I’ve been up since 5 a.m. because I’m road tripping to Florida with… this boy (hehe). He has to drive his grandparents car down to Florida, and asked if I’d like to tag along, and let’s face it: I can’t say no to road trips. In order to ensure a happy, smiley trip (especially this early in the a.m.) I whipped up some trail mix for the road. Keeping in mind what he likes (yogurt-covered pretzels and Craisins) and what I like (raw almonds ‘n’ dark chocolate chips), I think I came up with the perfect blend. 

-1/2 box original Puffins

-1 c. dark chocolate chips 

-1 bag yogurt-covered pretzels

-2 c. raw almonds

-1/2 c. dried cranberries 

-1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional) 

-whatever else you have hangin’ around the kitchen

~Combine into a big plastic bag, shake up and enjoy!

Friday Recap: 4 Things I Learned This Week

10 Dec

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TGIF fellow Healthy Chicks! You’ve finally made it to Friday, and can officially enjoy the week being over. However, instead of celebrating the weekend, I’m going to do a little recap on this week as I’ve learned a lot these past few days…

# 1. Fake Christmas Trees Just Don’t Cut it (And Never Will): The other day I witnessed my first real Christmas tree of the season. I walked into my friend’s apartment and the second I stepped foot inside I could just smell it, fresh pine needles mixed with Christmas that is. I immediately felt warm and happy inside. You see, since we live in a teeny tiny apartment, we decided to settle with decorating our fake palm tree with ornaments and a little tinsel. While it looks pretty, it’s simply not the same. I will never understand fake Christmas trees, and you can ensure I will never have one once I can afford my own place. I already have a whole box of ornaments stored away for when I finally have my first tree (my mom gives my sister and I a few each year for Christmas)!

#2 A Restaurant Serving of Pad Thai will Last You Three Meals: The other night, I went out for Thai and of course ordered my absolute favorite dish: Pad Thai. Some of you may be squirming in your seats because obviously Pad Thai isn’t the healthiest dish – it sometimes comes in at a whopping 900+ calories. However, that’s no need to deprive yourself of a dish you love! Get what you truly want, eat until you’re satisfied and then take the rest home. Let me tell you, I ate my little heart out the night I went out to eat, and still had enough for TWO additional meals- yes, two! Restaurant servings can be far too large for the typical Healthy Chick, but you don’t have to fear them. Just doggie bag them (hehe).

#3 Don’t Overdo it When You’re Sick: I felt a cold coming on a few days ago, but tried to be Super Woman with an “I can do anything” attitude. I did Core Fusion (hey, gotta tone the butt), I hung out with The Boy (all day, oops), I went out for a nice dinner, I ran around like a mad woman trying to finish my Christmas shopping, I drank coffee when I knew it would further dehydrate me, I stayed up late (watching movies and reading blogs), I vigorously cleaned the entire house…I simply didn’t stop. Today it finally hit me and it hit me hard. That’s why I’m currently wrapped up in a blanket on the couch with my laptop and The Apprentice on DVR. Enough is enough. 

#4 Coconut Oil is a Miracle Oil: Ever since I used a heaping scoop of coconut oil in my gluten free cupcakes a few weeks ago, I’ve seen this oil everywhere. In fact, one of my Twitter followers @meagher_erin sent me some Kelapo Coconut Oil to sample. I never realized how much you can do with this stuff! It’s good for your skin (works like a moisturizer), can help with digestion (add some in your next cookies, or even thai rice dish), and can even smooth your hair-move over, expensive conditioners! Honestly, how many oils can you eat, rub onto your skin and put in your hair – that actually smell good. Not many!

How has your week been? What did you take out of your week…learn anything new? 


The Wacky Waffle Breakfast Creation

7 Dec

My throat hurts this morning (ouch, Zinc Lozenges you better work!) so I didn’t want anything too heavy for breakfast. I looked at what I had in the fridge (and the freezer, and my counter) and came up with this very odd, yet tasty creation. I think it may be a new favorite of mine. Check it out…

The Wacky Waffle 

-1 frozen waffle of choice (or homemade if you’re feeling adventurous)- I used TJ’s Gluten Free

-1 banana, sliced thin

-2 TB low fat cottage cheese

-1 tsp. cinnamon 

-1 tsp. nutmeg 

1. Toast your waffle how you like it. Spread cottage cheese on top, then add sliced bananas all around (may serve extras on the side).

2. Drizzle on cinnamon and nutmeg, and there you have it…the wacky waffle!

3. Enjoy…I promise it sounds weird but it’s pretty darn tasty.


Spice Up Your Kitchen (& Your Taste buds)

2 Dec

Yesterday, my roommate came home from a long day at work, and asked me to the usual question, “What should I have for dinner?” As I listed off a bunch of foods, she continued to say she either didn’t have the ingredients or was simply sick of that concoction. After all, she always sticks with the same exact thing: sweet potato with salad, pasta with toast or a turkey burger. After a long day of work, it’s hard to get creative in the kitchen; I hear you. I too sometimes find myself getting into the routine of eating the same exact thing every day…simply because it works. Eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, big salad for lunch, chicken and veggies for dinner. While it’s easy to get caught up in a comfortable routine in the kitchen, it’s way more fun to spice it up. And with the right tips, you can spice up your fridge and pantry pain-free! 

Try At Least One New Item Every Week: The other day, I bought spaghetti squash (something I never buy) to make “Spaghetti & Meatballs.” It was so refreshing to enjoy an out-of-the-norm, nutritious meal for a change, and it came out absolutely delicious. So trade up your pasta for some Spaghetti Squash, buy avocados for your salad if you usually go with tomatoes, try a new flavor of hummus (like spicy chipotle) or pick up a box of brown rice to experiment with. Purchase something you can’t pronounce (or have never even heard of) and give it a try. It can’t hurt, right? 

Prep Meals Ahead of Time: Of course you settle for a bowl of cereal or boring old pasta for dinner when you’re starving, and the last thing you want to do is create a feast. But if you prep meals during the weekend (or the night before) you can freeze them so they’ll be ready to eat in a jiff. I love freezing Turkey Chili, pre-made turkey burgers, chicken cutlets, rice dishes and even the pierogies my grandma just made for me. Simply place your pre-made meal in the fridge the morning you want to eat it, and it’ll be ready for you to eat when you get home from work! 

Spice it up (Literally): Play with spices and herbs to give any ordinary meal a kick. Snazz up your boring pasta with some basil, oregano and parmesan cheese. Add a kick to your morning omelet with cayenne pepper, chili powder or even a scoop of fresh salsa. Play with cumin, turmeric and red pepper flakes in your veggie and rice dishes. The possibilities are endless! Good news is most spices cost around $2 so you can grab a bunch and have them ready for any kind of meal. 

Make Your Own Creations: Quite frankly, I’ve never been a fan of “following the rules,” and same holds true in the kitchen. Recipes are great as a guide, but take them as just that. If you’re missing a few of the ingredients, substitute in what you have! If you don’t feel like buying 1,000 new sauces just for one freakin’ recipe, make something up. The kitchen is your place to be creative and let your inner-chef shine. I love the combo of mayo and mustard on my salmon, but didn’t want to load on a bunch of cals so I substituted the mayo with plain nonfat greek yogurt. Who knew it tasted just as good? If a recipe calls for walnuts, I’ll use slivered almonds or sunflower seeds. If I’m all out of broccoli, I’ll use spinach or asparagus. Play with what you’ve got and I can assure you you’ll have much more fun in the kitchen.

Plan Special Meals: Of course we can’t eat glorious, home-cooked meals every day, or I honestly probably wouldn’t be able to afford my electric bill. But, special, extravagant meals are exciting, so save them for a special time. Maybe every Sunday you and your roommates can cook together, and whip up something fabulous? Or take turns cooking for each other once a week. My roommate and I are planning on making Eggplant Parmesan this weekend, something I haven’t had in a looong time. Decide on something ahead of time so you have something delicious to look forward to!

Have a Non-Guilty Post-Thanksgiving Day

26 Nov

[my sister and I dressed up as Santa’s elves for the Turkey trot]

Welp, Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful day with your family and friends, and stuffed yourself as much as I did. I have to say the one thing I love most about Thanksgiving (other than being surrounded with my family for the entire day) is enjoying food I only get to eat once a year. Some of my favorites include my aunt Terry’s broccoli casserole (so cheesy & savory), my dad’s turkey (always perfectly moist & flavorful) and the assortment of desserts (think: massive chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and pumpkin pie galore). Food as good as this only comes by once a year, so you bet your healthy butt I am going to indulge, and indulge I did. 

So don’t you dare feel guilty about eating a pound of mashed potatoes, three servings of grandma’s stuffing and one too many pieces of apple pie. Don’t feel ashamed if you had to unzip your jeans before dinner was over (I wore leggings to avoid that) or change into sweatpants while guests were still over (totally did that). It’s Thanksgiving and it’s one freakin’ day of not eating perfectly, so eat it up- literally. 

If you’re like me, you eat healthy, nutritious and clean 98% of the time, so you deserve a little wiggle room for days such as this. Along with Thanksgiving comes birthdays, terrible breakups, Christmas, summer BBQs, and bad days. It’s healthy and normal to eat a little bit unhealthy or non-perfect at times. We are only human after all! So save the guilt and go out and shop your little heart away this Black Friday – you’ll burn calories and find something else to feel guilty about (i.e. those $200 pair of shoes). But either way, you deserve it!

What were your favorite indulgences yesterday? 

Thanksgiving is Just Around the Corner…

18 Nov

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but let’s be honest: I’ve been thinking about it since early October, and I’m already thinking about Christmas. Hey, it’s the malls fault for being all decorated and pretty with lights and Christmas trees. But when it’s all said and done, Thanksgiving is and always has been my absolute favorite holiday. The delicious smells, the wonderful feeling of family and the fact that I go into a turkey coma every year (no matter how much I tell myself to slow down) is all part of the joy of Thanksgiving. 

But even though I almost always have to unbutton my pants come dessert, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t try to keep my Thanksgiving just a bit healthier. After all, I’m not trying to gain 10 pounds in one sitting and feel like absolute crap the next day. That would be doing my body no good. So this year in particular, I’m working on adding a little extra healthy oomph to my favorite holiday, and that I will share with you…

#1 I’m running my first ever Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day: I’ll be running the 5-mile Manchester Road Race, but these types of Turkey Trots are all over the place, so I suggest you sign up to0! They are fun, packed with people and it takes the edge of the actual running part of it. To make it even more exciting, my sister and I are dressing up as elves with green tights, elf hats and all! To prep for the race, I’ve been running 3 miles a day with Core Fusion Body Sculpt twice a week, so it’s keeping me in shape before Turkey Day as well. 

#2 I’ll be making a side dish that actually tastes good: Last year I tried to go all, “healthy, healthy” on everyone and ended up making the most disgusting side dishes…ever. My family of course ate them to be nice, but even I could see they had little to no flavor. My gluten free stuffing I tried to invent tasted like dog food. It was that bad. This year, I’m going to concentrate on making wholesome, nutritious food instead of low-cal, “healthy” crap. I’m definitely going to trim down the classic sweet potato pie that everyone knows and loves, and am definitely going to dabble in concocting some gluten free savory cupcakes from the BabyCakes Cookbook I got last year as a gift. Red Velvet cupcakes [see above] are at the top of my list to try this year! 

#3 Or Fake it if you can’t bake it: Not everyone loves to cook, and there is no shame in that. Lots of places allow you to pre-order Thanksgiving sides and desserts so you don’t have to touch a pan. For instance, Healthy Habits Kitchen in Wellesley, MA is running an “Everything But the Turkey” Package, which includes 3 appetizers, 3 side dishes and 2 desserts. How’s that for easy and efficient? Pick ‘n’ choose between tasty apps like Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomato & Olive Spread, Spinach & Feta Triangles and Pumpkin Chipotle Hummus. Side dishes include a Butternut Squash Casserole, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, and Traditional Stuffing. Oh, and you can’t forget dessert, with favorites like Chocolate Bark and Gingerbread Spiked Pumpkin Pie. View their full menu here. Small servings for 4 cost $59 and full servings for 8 is $99, extremely affordable in my book for the amount of food you’re getting. 

#4 Eat Slowly: Sometimes I forget that the food is not going to fly away on me. I think we all could use a few deep breaths and short breaks throughout the feast. Enjoy your food, chat with aunt Sally who you haven’t seen all year and savor every bite. This meal only comes once a year, after all. Why rush it? 

What are your healthy Turkey Day tips? 

Pancakes Make Me Happy (Especially When They’re Gluten Free)

9 Nov

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I remember when I was a little kid, having pancakes for breakfast was just as exciting as seeing presents under the tree. Our family made such an event out of it. There were blueberry pancakes, banana pancakes, and my absolute favorite childhood flavor: chocolate chip pancakes. And of course we made a batch or two of plain, only to smother them in butter and Maple syrup. Seriously, there was nothing like pancakes for breakfast. 

Then I developed a gluten/wheat sensitivity two years ago, and haven’t been able to enjoy pancakes ever since. Seriously, I had forgotten what they tasted like. Last year, our roommates hosted a winter day brunch, and all I could eat were the eggs, fruit salad and bacon. The pancakes just sat there staring at me, with all of their ooey gooey goodness. Grr. I cursed them for containing wheat, but then again, I guess it’s not really their fault. 

Well, it wasn’t until this morning that I was brought back to childhood with a bite of some damn good pancakes. Yesterday while strolling my favorite place in the world -Trader Joe’s – I stumbled upon a box of frozen gluten free pancakes, and thought I should give them a try. I didn’t expect them to taste like the real thing by any means, but I thought, why not?

Boy oh boy was I wrong. These babies knocked my expectations out of the ball park. They were heavenly, the perfect texture and extra warm and gooey in the middle. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been missing pancakes for far too long, but I even dare say they were better than what I remembered. Yup, I went there…better. I topped my three little guys (the perfect serving and 230 calories) with a little Earth Balance butter, sliced bananas and a drizzle of Maple syrup then dove right in. Wow…just wow. 

So next time your friends throw a festive brunch, and you have to sit out with a sad face due to an allergy, just remember…there is always a way! Have a happy Tuesday and make pancakes for dinner if ya want! : ) 

November Goals & Feel Better Butternut Squash

2 Nov

Sorry my post was cut short yesterday with just a recipe. I wish I had a cool story like I was on a hot date, traveling overseas or pampering myself all day, but unfortunately it was quite the opposite. I had a terrible case of …dun dun dun…food poisoning. It was downright awful. For someone who hasn’t thrown up since I was 12-years-old after Oreos (minus that one time in college), it’s safe to say I was in complete misery. All I wanted was to be at home like a little kid where my mom could take care of me and bring me dry toast, crackers, and ginger ale. Well, the morning after my body is still recovering but I can at least get up to write a post, so I figured I’d share with you my November goals. It’s a new month, hence I feel there should be new goals. And if you know me, I’m always making little lists and personal goals for myself, so here goes!

1. To go on a date: Seriously it’s been too darn long. November is going to be the month of love for Rachel. OK, maybe not the month of love but I am determined to go on at least ONE date with a somewhat decent guy. I will update you in December to tell you the results…

2. To do Core Fusion Body Sculpt at least twice a week: My DVD came in the mail yesterday, and I couldn’t be more excited to start it! I want to be lean, toned & in rockin’ shape, and I think this DVD is the answer. Now twice a week is just my goal, but 3 times a week would be ideal. I can’t wait to challenge myself with these invigorating exercises and get my tushy into gear! Hey, maybe it’ll help with #1? hehe ; ) 

3. Read More: I hate to admit that Water for Elephants is still sitting on my nightstand, barely started. What a shame. This month I’m going to make it a point to read, even just few a few minutes, every night before bed. Reading helps me get away from it all, escape to a new world for a bit. Reading is good for the mind. 

4. Up My Yoga: I got into a zone a few months ago where yoga was a part of my lifestyle. Unfortunately lately I’ve let it slip away because I’m “too busy.” But really, no one can ever be too busy for yoga. Yoga is something that’s worth taking  60 or 90 extra minutes out of your day. It’ll help save time in the long run, as it clears your mind, de-sresses your bod and gives you amazing balance and energy. Seriously, how could you turn that down? I, Rachel Chemerynski, WILL practice yoga once (preferably twice) a week for the month of November, even if it’s running my own practice in my room. 

5. Do Something Different: Sometimes, I find myself getting into a comfortable habitual pattern. I think we all can attest to doing what works, and forgetting to add a little freshness to our lives. This month is going to all change for me. Whether it’s taking a cooking or pottery class or planning weekly “family dinners” with my friends, this month is going to be all about new. 

What are your goals for the month? 

Oh, and since I was feeling like complete crap yesterday, I thought it was only fitting to include a recipe that always makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Alas, I introduce you to my Feel Better Baked Butternut Squash, the absolute perfect fall dish. 

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*serves 3-4 people as a side

-1 large butternut squash or 1 package precut butternut squash

-1/2 TB ground cinnamon

-1 tsp. ground nutmeg 

-1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil 

-1 TB light agave syrup

-1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 or 400. 

2. Line cookie sheet with foil, and spread squash evenly throughout.

3. Drizzle with cinnamon, nutmeg, olive oil, agave and optional nuts. 

4. Bake for 45 minutes or until squash is sizzling and slightly golden. 


Trimmed Up Turkey Chili

1 Nov

I seriously can not believe it’s November. What?! Where did all the time go? After Halloween, I feel like time flies by even faster. It goes Christmas, New Years, bam bam bam, and then suddenly it’s Valentine’s Day before you know it. Seriously, the malls are already all dressed up for Christmas, when just yesterday everything was orange and black with candy all over. Oh well, I guess it’s not all that bad that the weather’s getting colder, because now I can make tasty warm-me-up recipes such as these. Try this Turkey Chili and you’ll forget winter is comin’. I suggest you eat it with a slice of corn bread by the fireplace…

Ingredients:

-1 package lean or extra lean ground turkey
-2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
-1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-1 red pepper, chopped
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1 can black beans
-1 can corn
-1 jalapeno pepper, diced small
-2 TB olive oil
-2 TB chili powder
-1 TB cumin

1. Coat large soup pot with olive oil, and cook onion and red peppers on medium heat, stirring frequently. Add in garlic and simmer on low heat.

2. In the meantime, heat a large skillet, and cook your ground turkey until no longer pink.
3. Add turkey into the large pot, as well as the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, black beans and corn.
4. Throw in your spices and diced jalapeno pepper, mixing everything together thoroughly.
5. Cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour on low heat.

~Top with a dollop of low fat sour cream, cheese or diced avocado!

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