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!
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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Fit Hits the PAN Friday – Chocolate Chip Clouds

If I only had one website to cook from for the rest of my life, I would choose SkinnyTaste! I am probably one of their best advertisers since I post their recipes all the time. This particular recipe blew me away! In our house, I do not purchase many sweets (except Lindt Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt). My husband frequently brings home dangerous desserts but since I started the Summer Slim Down Challenge, he has been very kind and has avoided bringing home sugary temptations!

These cookies are sweet, airy and provide just enough sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth without destroying all your hard work! WARNING LABEL: Yes these cookies are healthier than other cookies you could purchase or bake, but that does not give you permission to eat 4 or 5 in one sitting! They are still full of sugar which can wreak havoc on your healthy lifestyle! With that said; enjoy in moderation 🙂

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Photo credit: Skinnytaste.com

 

Chocolate Chip Clouds
Skinnytaste.com

Adapted from Hershey’s Kitchens
Servings: 30 • Serving Size: 1 cookie • Old Points: 1 pt • Points+: 1 pt
Calories: 53.7 • Fat: 2.2 g • Carb: 8.4 g • Fiber: 1.7 g • Protein: 1.1 g

Ingredients:  

  • 1/2 cup egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips)

Directions: 
Heat oven to 300°F. Cover cookie sheet with silpat or nonstick silicone pad.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together in large bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar a little at a time, then vanilla, beating well after each addition until you get stiff peaks, the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is glossy.

Sift cocoa onto egg white mixture; gently fold until combined.

Fold in chocolate chips. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheet. Makes 30 to 32 cookies.

Bake 34 to 40 minutes or just until dry. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely on wire rack. Store covered, at room temperature.

FIT Hits the PAN Friday – Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats

This was the first week of our Summer Slim-Down Challenge so I cooked A LOT! I wanted to be sure there was healthy food readily available throughout the week. My husband complained he could not find his lunch the other morning because the refrigerator was too full :-/ I was thinking that is not a bad issue to have! Zucchini is one of my favorite summer staples because they are always on sale and they are very versatile. They are high in Vitamin A & C and are also a great source of Potassium and Calcium.

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I pulled five recipes from Skinny Taste (which you all should know by now is my favorite recipe website). I have not met a recipe on their website that I didn’t like! My husband raved about the Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats so I will share those with you. I made the mistake of preparing three recipes at once, so I was a bit overwhelmed while I cooked this dish. The dish itself is simple to make and it would easy to double if you have a large group of guests. I used ground chicken in place of the turkey because that was what I purchased this week 🙂 Enjoy!

Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Skinnytaste.com
Servings: 4  • Size: 2 halves  • Old Points: 6 pts • Weight Watcher Points+: 7 pt
Calories: 286 • Fat: 12 g • Carb: 18 g • Fiber: 5 g • Protein: 28 g • Sugar: 6 g
Cholest: 8 mg

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium (32 ounces) zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp bell pepper, minced
  • 4 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions or cilantro, for topping

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 1/4 cup of salsa in the bottom of a large baking dish.

Using a small spoon or melon baller, hollow out the center of the zucchini halves, leaving 1/4-inch thick shell on each half. Chop the scooped out flesh of the zucchini in small pieces and set aside 3/4 of a cup to add to the taco filling, (squeeze excess water with a paper towel) discarding the rest or save to use in another recipe. Drop zucchini halves in boiling water and cook 1 minute. Remove from water.

Brown turkey in a large skillet, breaking up while it cooks. When no longer pink add the spices and mix well. Add the onion, bell pepper, reserved zucchini, tomato sauce and water. Stir and cover, simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

Using a spoon, fill the hollowed zucchini boats dividing the taco meat equally, about 1/3 cup in each, pressing firmly. Top each with 1 tablespoon of shredded cheese. Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until cheese is melted and zucchini is cooked through. Top with scallions and serve with salsa on the side.

Motivational Monday – Summer Slim-Down Challenge Week One!

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Today marks the beginning of the Summer Slim-Down Challenge! I am very excited! Over the next six weeks, there are 45 people participating in the journey to a healthy lifestyle! This is a self-guided program so there are no meals plans or grocery lists. You set your own goals and we will be there to make sure you meet them!

If you would like to join us, there is no cost. Please visit the event page on Facebook! I will be posting all the recipes I make over the next six weeks and I also put together some helpful tips to get you started. All of this info can be found on my website http://www.iveynutritionandwellness.com/Challenge.

This event is designed to not only help people get a jump start on weight loss but more importantly set the foundation to live a healthy lifestyle! We all know diets are temporary and while the initial weight loss is exciting, many times the programs involve eating habits that are not manageable over the long-term.

I want to break you out of that diet trap and bring about an educated, practical lifestyle change! I am looking forward to seeing the positive changes in everyone’s lives as we embark on this journey. I will be participating in the challenge as well! Over the last year I put weight back on that I thought I had lost forever. My goal is to lose 8 pounds over the next six weeks! I know that I will have to work hard, but I also know the end result is worth every drop of sweat in the gym and every passed-up cookie!

Your partner in health,

Jenn