Our favorite smoothie recipes {and a giveaway!}

11/18/2012 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Bloggy, mangia! | 5 Comments
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Thank you Smart Balance Kids for sponsoring this post. Join us on Facebook for healthful eating tips & tricks, recipes, coupons and more!

We love smoothies. The end.

One of Lily’s favorite “stay home mommy day” rituals is to make smoothies. She thinks they’re milkshakes (which they are, kind of). I love that she’s getting a whopping dose of calcium, protein, vitamins and antioxidants. And, making them with Smart Balance® Kids Reduced Fat Milk & Nutrient Blend adds even more good stuff for little bodies.

The best part? Lily can make the whole thing herself.

And lick the spoon in between steps. Because of course.

Here’s the recipe for our latest concoction:

– 2 cups vanilla yogurt
– 2 cups frozen mango/berries
– 1 banana
– 1/2 cup milk

We make ours a little on the runny side so that Miss Sophie can partake. To thicken up your smoothie, just cut back on the milk or freeze the banana for a couple of hours before blending.

Our blender is a hand-me-down from Marc’s grandparents. I have no idea how old it is, but that thing works like nobody’s business. I love it.

And here’s the recipe (for one person — multiply as needed) for one of our other favorite smoothies, The Elvis:

– one partially frozen banana (2-3 hours in freezer)
– 2 TBS peanut butter
– splash of milk


Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? We’re always looking for new things to toss into Poppy’s blender. And if you’d like to enter to win a container of Smart Balance Kids Milk, just leave a comment below. Free milk! More smoothies! Yay!

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. As a Smart Balance Kids Milk ambassador, I was compensated for this post and was given milk vouchers to review. My opinions are always honest. This giveaway ends on Wednesday, Nov. 21. I’ll announce the winner that evening (before we swap smoothies for turkey and stuffing).

**Samantha is our winner! Thanks for playing!**

What we eat to lose weight (and keep it off)

08/29/2012 at 2:38 pm | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 6 Comments

Back in December when the nutritionist handed Marc an eating plan that allowed only 1200 calories a day, I thought I would never be able to do it. The truth? It sucked at first. Bad. I felt hungry a lot of the time, and I had to distract myself from thinking about food. The new portion sizes also took some getting used to.

But then, after a few weeks, it became easier. And after a few months, I can hardly remember how (or why) we ate differently.

For us, it’s all about modifications. Instead of frying fish and slathering it with tartar, we grill it with brown rice and veggies on the side. Rather than eat a whole plate of pasta (which in most cases equals 3 to 4 servings), it became a side dish. We added a bunch more fruits and vegetables to our diet and cut back on red meat. And we subbed in baked chips, Skinny Cow ice cream and Who Nu cookies for treats.

Also important? We didn’t deprive ourselves of the foods we love. Everything in moderation.

To give you an idea of our new diet, here’s how a typical week of eating shakes out …

This was probably the most eye-opening change for me. I used to pour a big bowl of cereal with skim milk and a tall glass of orange juice. Sounds healthy, right? It’s certainly not bad for you, but that meal also has a ton of calories and didn’t keep me full for very long. So I cut out the fruit juice and only occasionally eat cereal. I added lots of protein in the morning. And fruit. One of the things I love best about our diet is that I can eat as much fruit (and as many vegetables) as I want.

Typical breakfasts for me:

– Whole-grain English muffin with 2 TBS peanut butter and half a banana sliced on top, watermelon on the side.
– One egg and one egg white scrambled, with orange wedges on the side.
– Nonfat Greek yogurt topped with peaches, blueberries and a sprinkle of Honey Nut Cheerios or Kashi.
– On days I need to move fast, I’ll eat a bowl of Special K with blueberries and skim milk.
– I drink water in the mornings because I’ve never liked coffee.

Lunch didn’t change all that much. We’ve always eaten whole wheat breads, lean meats and raw veggies. We don’t eat regular chips any more, and we’ve cut back on the amount of cheese and mayo on our sandwiches. Small adjustments have big impact.

Here’s what I like to eat for lunch:

– Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with 1 oz cheddar, lettuce, tomato and dijon mustard. Pretzels, pickle and Diet Coke on the side.
– Morningstar Farms black bean burger (pictured above, although you can hardly see it under all the toppings) with salsa, lettuce, an ounce of shredded cheddar and about a tablespoon of reduced-fat sour cream. Carrot sticks, a few baked Cheetos (YUM) on the side.
– Egg scramble with one egg, one egg white, deli ham, green pepper, onion, tomato and a bit of cheddar cheese.
– At work, I’ll pop a Lean Cuisine in the microwave and eat it with pretzels or carrot sticks and a Diet Coke. Not the best lunch (those frozen meals are packed with sodium and carbs), but it gets me by on busy days.
– Pita bread stuffed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, carrots, a slice of American cheese and reduced-fat Italian dressing.
– Green salad with grilled chicken, a bit of cheese, veggies and low-fat dressing.

This meal has changed the most. On our regular rotation used to be baked spaghetti, beef stir fry with noodles, fried fish and lots of processed rice and pasta side dishes. We still have taco night, but now with healthier toppings and plain brown rice (which, when mixed with salsa and corn, is just as good as any box mix).

Here are some of our favorite dinners:

– Chicken cooked in the skillet with a little olive oil (or a grocery store rotisserie chicken) and barbeque sauce, corn on the cob, steamed brown rice, tomato slices.
– Green salad with grilled chicken, boiled egg white, veggies, a bit of cheese, a serving of croutons, with low-fat dressing.
– Grilled fish with onions and green peppers, grilled summer vegetables, baked sweet potato fries.
– Taco night! Whole wheat tortilla stuffed with chicken, one serving of cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, corn, salsa and one serving of low-fat sour cream. Steamed brown rice on the side.
– Grilled pork tenderloin with roasted brussels sprouts, green salad and whole-wheat roll.
– Other favorites include spaghetti pie and chicken pesto pizza. We also steam a lot of green vegetables: broccoli, asparagus, green beans. I’ve been meaning to experiment with roasting these for some extra crisp and flavor.

– trail mix
– Skinny Cow dark chocolate dreamy clusters
– plain dark chocolate
– roasted almonds
– a cup of Greek yogurt
– fruit!
– carrot sticks with low-fat ranch dip
– Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches
– Who Nu and Snackwell’s cookies
– frozen yogurt
– banana “milkshake”: blend one chopped frozen banana with 1 TBS peanut butter and a splash of skim milk

Eating Out
Man, this is tough. My favorite restaurants are Mexican, Italian and Southern. So I eat enchiladas, pizza and chicken biscuits in moderation. At the beginning we didn’t eat out at all. Once the weight started coming off, we allowed ourselves the treat of eating out every now and then … and we made healthier choices.

One of our favorite things to do as a family is go out for pizza on Friday night. So the nutritionist advised us to load up on the salad bar (avoiding unhealthy toppings and dressings), and then eat only two slices of pizza. It worked! And if I eat a hamburger, I ask for green salad on the side instead of french fries.

But there are time when a girl just needs to eat what she wants. See: fried pickles and cupcakes. So on those (special) occasions, I just go easy on my other meals that day and try to squeeze in some extra exercise. No biggie.


I hope this gives you an idea of the types of foods you can eat to lose weight — or maintain a healthy one. If you have questions, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below. I’ll also keep adding healthy recipes to the mangia! category over there in the sidebar.

Up next in this week’s weight-loss series? Exercise. I actually like it now. Crazy, right?

Eating healthy: grilled trout ala Marc

07/19/2012 at 1:12 pm | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 6 Comments
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So, fish isn’t one of my favorite foods. But I’ve learned to love it. Especially because it’s so healthy. And because my husband happens to be a fisherman and he’d eat it every day if he could.

We’re lucky to get to eat fresh fish right off the boat during the summer. But we also hit up the local fish market when our stash runs dry.

We used to fry and slather it with tartar sauce. Now we grill it with different combinations of herbs, veggies, olive oil, butter and lemon juice. A little secret: it actually tastes better this way! And your stomach will thank you.

For the dish pictured above Marc packed trout fillets (that he caught last week) in foil with onion, red pepper, 1 tsp butter and some Mrs. Dash seasoning. When you close up the pouches, be sure to tent them so there’s room for the steam to do its thing. Then grill (or throw in the oven) for about 15 minutes. We also grilled the veggies in foil packs, after tossing them with some reduced fat Italian dressing. And the tomatoes are from our little garden!

I always have a glass of cold white wine on fish night. Perfection.

Because dessert doesn't have to bust the calorie-meter

06/14/2012 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Bloggy, mangia! | Leave a comment
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We are a dessert family.

Marc and I both have a sweet tooth, and it seems that Lily has inherited it. I simply can’t finish a meal without something sweet. My usual line-up used to include cookies, ice cream or cupcakes. Since we’ve radically changed our lifestyle, we had to re-think dessert.

Notice I didn’t say “desserts had to go.” Because I don’t believe in depriving myself, and sweets are something I really enjoy. We just had to get creative. And you know what? It wasn’t that difficult.

One of our new favorite desserts is really quite simple. We call it “fruit parfait” to make it exciting for Lily, and it’s basically fruit layered with Lite COOL WHIP Whipped Topping (which has only 20 calories per serving!). Lily’s version also includes a smattering of rainbow sprinkles. She especially loves banana parfait. My favorite parfait is made with fresh local peaches or berries. I like crunchies in my desserts, so I’ll occasionally top my parfait with granola or almonds.

This spring we also made strawberry shortcakes with angel food cake (which is surprisingly low in calories and fat), fresh local berries and Lite COOL WHIP. Yum.

So, we’ve essentially been eating a lot more fruit. And dressing it up a bit. Dessert doesn’t have to be fancy or reserved for special occasions. We’ve learned that it is possible to enjoy dessert most every day and maintain our new lifestyle.

Even chocolate. Really!

Lily and I had a blast making Chocolate Chunk and Marshmallow Sundaes from our Food & Family magazine. I loved that the recipe was kid-friendly; Lily loved licking the spoon. And it also proved to be a neat science experiment, as the pudding thickened when stirred together with the cold milk.

We cut calories and fat by using skim milk and Lite COOL WHIP. And, unbeknownst to Lily, I reduced the amount of marshmallows and chocolate chips the recipe calls for.

This dessert was delicious, easy to make, and one batch lasted a while in the freezer. Lily loved “making ice cream,” and we plan to do it often this summer, switching up the pudding flavors and add-ins.

Dessert is a treat. But it doesn’t have to break the bank (or your waistband). We’re having the best fun coming up with low-cal options for everyday desserts that make everyone happy. Even Sophie is getting in on the action. Baby loooooves anything sweet.

What are some of your favorite summer desserts? We’d especially love more ideas for our low-cal recipe box!

Sponsored posts are purely editorial content that we are pleased to have presented by a participating sponsor. Advertisers do not produce the content. I was compensated for this post as a member of Clever Girls Collective, but the content is all my own. #FMcoolwhipmoms #spon

Eating healthy: chicken pesto pizza

06/14/2012 at 9:05 am | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 2 Comments
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Remember when I went basil-bonkers at the farmers market?

We made a couple of chicken dishes with it and tossed it with tomatoes on the side a few times. But then it started to go bad because, really, how much basil can one person eat in a week? When it started to emanate from my pores, I had to take a break.

So I rescued the undamaged leaves and blended them into a pesto with a little olive oil, grated parmesan and walnuts (because the Food Lion doesn’t carry pine nuts). YUM.

One of our favorite ways to eat pesto is on pizza. I usually just throw on top whatever’s in the fridge. In this particular case, we had fresh part-skim mozzerella, tomatoes and leftover grilled chicken. On a whole-wheat thin crust slathered with pesto. Perfection. Other favorite toppings are roasted red peppers, gorgonzola crumbles and bacon. Or prosciutto, if you’re fancy.

I’m not sure of the calorie count, but if you’re going to splurge on pizza, this is a pretty healthy way to go. I ate two slices with fresh veggies and light ranch on the side.

The best part of this meal? Lily’s face when she walked into the kitchen and said, “What IS that smell?” She covered her nose through most of the meal. It seems pesto isn’t her thing.

Eating healthy: farmers market chicken skillet

06/06/2012 at 10:19 am | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 1 Comment
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chicken skillet recipe

Guess who bought too much basil at the farmers market?

I swear, it was just one bunch. But man. I think it multiplies while we sleep at night.

I found this recipe in my latest Food & Family magazine and gave it a shot. I’m not going to re-type it here because I’m lazy. And because the link will take you to printer-friendly versions. And because I’m lazy.

But I will tell you about the modifications I made:

>> added extra basil, because, well, we can’t eat it fast enough
>> used about half the cheese the recipe called for, and it was plenty
>> sauteed the veggies longer and added some Mrs. Dash to the skillet for extra flavor
>> used more chicken and veggies than pasta (so my plate had about a quarter-cup of pasta underneath a mountain of veggies and chicken)

With some fresh insalata caprese (tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper) on the side, this dinner was light and delicious. A perfect use for all that summer produce. And basil. Oh, the basil.

Eating healthy: simple grilled dinner

05/16/2012 at 11:33 am | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 3 Comments
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grilled chicken dinner

This is my new favorite thing off the grill (right up there with those yummy 97% fat-free Hebrew’s National hot dogs, but that’s a post for another day).

Marc whipped up this amazing dijon-based marinade and let the chicken sit in it for hours. He can’t remember where he found the recipe, but this one comes close. It is so good you’ll want to soak you entire meal in it. Fact.

He grilled the summer squash and zucchini in foil pouches with some tomato, onion, Italian dressing and herbs. I’m not really a big fan of squash-y veggies, but they soaked up the other flavors so nicely and were seriously delicious. We finished the plates with a scoop of steamed brown rice and our favorite whole grain dinner rolls.

I’m so glad summer is almost here because that means more grilling. And more seasonal fruits and veggies. And most definitely more hot dogs (post coming soon).

What are your favorite grilled meals? I’m always on the hunt for new recipes!

Eating healthy: grilled chicken salad

04/23/2012 at 7:44 pm | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 6 Comments
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grilled chicken salad

I swear there is chicken on that salad. It’s buried in the middle. See it?

It’s not just croutons and egg white. Although those are two of my favorite parts of this salad. Here’s what else is on it: green leaf lettuce, broccoli, shredded carrot, tomato, raisins and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. And grilled chicken! Of course!

My favorite dressing with this salad is Ken’s light honey mustard. I try to use exactly 2 TBS, which is a serving. I’ve been surprised just how far that little bit of dressing can go.

The calorie count on this salad varies, depending on the quantity of each ingredient. But it usually comes in around 400. And it stuffs me full.

P.S. I’m officially down 26 pounds and just about to crack a new “decade” on the scale that I haven’t seen since I can’t remember when. And I don’t feel deprived or starved. Never imagined this was possible. Ever.

Eating healthy: cherry chocolate trail mix

04/19/2012 at 8:42 pm | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 4 Comments
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cherry chocolate trail mix

I can’t get enough of this stuff.

It’s bad.

But oh so good. And good for me!

Our nutritionist advised a single serving of nuts as a high-protein snack that would provide energy and help keep us feeling full between meals.

Marc is so good at it. He scoops out the exact number of nuts and drops the chocolate pieces back into the bag. I, on the other hand, usually serve myself a heaping portion and have been known to trade some of my peanuts for more dark chocolate.

My favorite brand is one that we found at BJ’s, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the name. They recently stopped selling it, so I found a close alternative at Whole Foods. This one is really growing on me … it has bigger (and more!) chocolate pieces.

Ah, the circle of life. Always looping back to chocolate.

Eating healthy: simple veggie sides

04/12/2012 at 2:43 pm | Posted in mangia!, weight loss | 4 Comments
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roasted brussels sprouts

Poor Brussels sprouts. They get such a bad rap. I’d been too chicken to try them until recently, and thank goodness I finally did because they are DELICIOUS. We just chop them in half, toss with a little olive oil, salt and fresh-ground pepper and roast them in a 350-degree oven until they’re tender on the inside. My favorite part are the crispy bits of outer leaf. Seriously yum.

I also just found this tasty looking recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s food blog. Can’t wait to try it.

MyFitnessPal says that a half-cup of roasted sprouts has about 80 calories.

tomato-cucumber salad

My other favorite veggie side is this simple summer salad. Marc makes it the best. Just chop up tomatoes and cucumbers and toss them with light Italian dressing and a bit of grated parmesan cheese. This dish will get even better as the veggies come into season. Can’t wait to buy fresh tomatoes at the farmers market. Hurry up, summer!

MyFitnessPal says this dish (1/2 cup) has about 40 calories.

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