FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Lentil Salad

I have had a bag of lentils sitting in my pantry for about a month that were begging to be used so when I saw this recipe on Facebook and I had to try it! Normally, my husband will turn his nose up at anything with lentils, but he loved this dish! I was actually pretty shocked he offered to try it without me asking. The recipe makes a large amount so it would be great for a party side dish! The only time-consuming part is dicing all the veggies, but you can use it as a chance to work on your knife skills.

One funny side note; I went to my mom’s to get the fresh parsley because she has a terrific herb garden. I cut what I thought was parsley but turned out to be cilantro. While the cilantro did not ruin the dish, it was a tad overpowering. Make sure you grab the parsley :)

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Lentil Salad
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 5 • Size: scant cup • Old Points: 1 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 102 • Fat: 3 g • Carb: 20 g • Fiber: 9 g • Protein: 7 g • Sugar: 1 g
Sodium: 255 mg • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine lentils, bay leaf, and thyme. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 16 to 20 minutes.

Drain lentils and discard bay leaf. Place in a large work bowl with carrots, celery, red pepper, red onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and serve chilled or room temperature.

Makes 4 1/2 cups

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Sausage Veggie Lasagana

My father-in-law was in town so I decided to make lasagna. Mainly because it is super simple and also because the last time I cooked for him, we were on the Engine 2 Diet and I made vegan lasagna. My father-in-law was born and raised in a very small town in Alabama. They don’t take kindly to vegan anything, so you can imagine his face when I told him what was in that lasagna and I had to redeem myself. This definitely did it; he had two helpings!

This dish is not super healthy but you could tweak it a bit to make it healthier by substituting low fat cheese (do not use fat free as it doesn’t melt). Don’t skimp on the sausage because that is what gives the dish it’s flavor. You could also sub zucchini noodles instead of regular pasta. Remember that zucchini holds a lot of water so it will upset the consistency of the lasagna if you are not careful. Make sure you place it on paper towels and press it between two dinner plates before you use it! Pardon the quality of my photo :-/

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Sausage Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 2 links sweet Italian turkey sausage (lean)
  • 1 -16 oz container of part-skim ricotta
  • 1 bag shredded mozzarella
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (we use Publix Garlic & Onion)
  • 1 box no-boil lasagna noodles (we use Barilla)
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
  • Remove the  sausage from the casings and break up in a medium skillet
  • Cook the sausage all the way through
  • Turn heat to medium-low
  • Add diced tomatoes, jar of sauce, carrots, zucchini and spices and mix well
  • Simmer on low for 15-20 min until carrots are tender
  • Once sauce is ready, ladle a large spoonful into bottom of prepared pan (9×13 glass is best)
  • Add layer of noodles to the pan, then layer ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, sauce until the pan is full.
  • Top with mozzarella, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

*Covering the lasagna with foil while baking keeps it from drying out.

 

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Red, White and Blueberry Trifle

I know the Fourth of July is long gone, but I made this recipe for a party we attended over the holiday weekend so I had to share it with you! It was super simple to make and delicious! Thanks again SkinnyTaste for another wonderful recipe! Since seasonal fruit varies throughout the country (peaches are great in Florida right now), you could substitute whatever is available in your area for this dish. I think it would be great with mango, kiwi, pineapple etc. Get creative!

On a personal note, I have been extremely lazy in blogging lately, so I apologize for the limited posts. Life has seemed to pleasantly get in the way :) I hope to come back strong in the Fall with some great health and wellness topics as well as some new recipes. I may even venture away from the SkinnyTaste website a little, but no promises! Until then, have a terrific rest of the summer and I am sure I will pop in here and there with some updated info.

Red, White and Blueberry Trifle
Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 14 • Serving Size: 1 cup  • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 169.1 • Fat: 0.4 g • Protein: 2.5 g • Carb: 38 g • Fiber: 3.0 g • Sugar: 16.5 g 
Sodium: 102.8 mg  

Ingredients: 

  • 10 oz angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes*
  • 2 pints strawberries, sliced
  • 2 pints blueberries

For the cream filling: 

  • 6 tbsp fat-free sweetened condensed milk (I used Borden Eagle)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 package sugar-free white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • 12 oz fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

Whisk the condensed milk and water in a bowl. Whisk in the pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set; fold in the whipped topping.

Arrange half of the cake in the bottom of a 14-cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Spread half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread (I piped it using a plastic bag and cut the corner off). Top with a layer of strawberries. Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries, then add more blueberries and top with the remaining cream mixture. Finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a pretty pattern. Cover and refrigerate at least one 1 hour.

*I only used 10 oz of a 16 oz cake.

 

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Healthy Chicken Parmesan Over Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a staple in this house. I love that you can serve it with anything that you would normally serve pasta thus eliminating the carbohydrates. I do enjoy a hearty bowl of pasta every now and then but mostly I am good without it! This dish is so easy I am almost embarrassed to use it for my post but I figure everyone can use an easy meal option from time to time!

We love Italian food but unfortunately most of it is laden with calories. I threw this dish together one night and it has become a regular menu item. You can add different vegetables like spinach, broccoli or carrots to the sauce with the chicken. Either way, I am certain the whole family will be happy!

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Healthy Chicken Parmesan Over Spaghetti Squash
Serves 4 (recipe can be adjusted for any number of guests)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium ripe spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce (or make your own from scratch)
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts*
  • 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese*

*Chicken thighs can also be used but make sure they are boneless/skinless.
*Do not use the Parmesan cheese found in the grocery isles. Make sure it is refrigerated.

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Cut the spaghetti squash in half using a very sharp, large knife.
  • Scrape out the seeds using a spoon careful not to remove too much of the middle.
  • In a deep baking dish, add about an inch of water and place the spaghetti squash face up.
  • Brush the squash with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Pour about 1/2 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a medium – large skillet with a lid and add the chicken. (make sure the pan is large enough for all the chicken)
  • Pour the rest of the sauce on top of the chicken careful not to overflow.
  • Cook the chicken on medium-medium low for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked through. There should be no pink in the middle. Use a meat thermometer if necessary.
  • Once squash is finished cooking, carefully pull it out of the oven and remove it from the dish onto a large cutting board. It will be tender so use caution not to smash it.
  • Allow the squash to cool to a temperature at which you can handle it easily.
  • Scrape the flesh of the squash into a large serving bowl and sprinkle with 2-3 tbsp of the Parmesan cheese. Cover and set aside.
  • Once the chicken is fully cooked, uncover and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  • Serve the chicken over the spaghetti squash and ladle with the remaining sauce and enjoy!

Anger – Not Just an Emotion

According to the Mental Health Foundation, anger is a physical and mental response to a threat or to harm done in the past. Anger takes many different forms from irritation to blinding rage or resentment that festers over many years. Anger not only affects our mental state but our physical as well.

anger

What happens to our bodies when we get angry?

The feeling of anger, like all emotions, is not isolated in your mind. The mental reaction triggers a cascade of physical reactions that extend throughout your body, including:

  • Increases in heart rate, arterial tension and testosterone
  • Decreases in cortisol (the stress hormone)
  • Stimulation of your left brain hemisphere, which is involved in experiencing emotions related to closeness

As soon as you get angry, your body starts preparing for a “fight.” Your muscles get tense, your digestive processes stop and certain brain centers are triggered, which alters your brain chemistry.

What are the long-term health effects of holding onto resentment or anger?

In the long run, and sometimes even the short term, however, this automatic response to anger can weaken your immune system and lead to a variety of health problems such as:

  • Headaches
  • Problems with digestion
  • Insomnia
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin problems, such as eczema
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Not only that, but anger can lead to other negative emotions like bitterness, hopelessness, futility and overall sadness. Let’s face it — it’s hard to have a good time if you’re holding on to anger.

How do we control anger?

It is easy to get angry. Sometimes even the smallest things set us off and we can lose control of our emotions. Implementing these 10 steps can help you control your emotions when circumstances get the best of you.

1. Think before you speak

2. Once you’re calm, express your anger

3. Get some exercise

4. Take a timeout

5. Identify possible solutions

6. Stick with ‘I’ statements

7. Don’t hold a grudge

8. Use humor to release tension

9. Practice relaxation skills

10. Know when to seek help

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Sometimes anger is righteous but determining when a situation warrants an angry response takes practice and self-control. The best thing to do is to heed the now infamous words of Queen Elsa and “Let it Go!” It will be better for your mental and physical health as well as your interpersonal relationships.

 

Sources:
“Anger.” Anger. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.
“New Study Shows Profound Impact of Anger on Your Health.” Mercola.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.
“Adult Health.” Anger Management: 10 Tips to Tame Your Temper. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.