Healthy Quinoa Salad

Many times when we are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, we go and purchase a lot of the alternative foods that are making all the waves in healthy magazines and cooking shows. However once purchased, we are not quite sure on how to cook them or what to pair them with. One of my favorite alternatives to rice is quinoa and I’ll admit that it took a lot of research before I realized how to cook this ingredient. Below I’m sharing one of my favorite ways to quickly make a tasty meal out of quinoa:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of red or white quinoa (for white quinoa- be sure to wash it under water before cooking. This will avoid the bloating feeling you may usually get from consuming white quinoa)
  • 2 cups of water
  • Diced red onions to taste
  • Diced tomato to taste
  • ½ can of whole kernel corn
  • Parsley or Cilantro to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 2 table spoon of olive oil
  • Cumin to taste
  • Seasoning salt to taste
  • Juice of half of a lime

In a pot, bring the water to a boil with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Rinse the quinoa using a fine strainer to prevent the quinoa going into the drain. Once the water gets to a boil, add the quinoa and when the quinoa starts to absorb the water, reduce the fire to low and cover the pot for approximately 15 minutes. Once the time elapses, fluff the quinoa and taste for consistency. If it is no longer crunchy, remove from heat and drain the excess water and pour into a bowl. Flash rinse in some water to cool the quinoa or simply let it rest until it cools. Mix in the red onions, tomato, chopped parsley or cilantro. Add the mixed vinegar and olive oil and the lime juice and the cumin and seasoning salt to taste. Refrigerate until cool or until ready to consume. This dish goes well with seafood or chicken breast and is perfect for a quick dinner after a long day of work or lunch on a weekend day.

Check out a list of 5 common mistakes when consuming quinoa for some more tips on this healthy rice alternative: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/common-mistakes/article/5-most-common-mistakes-when-cooking-quinoa

Stay healthy!

Reese

Quick and Healthy Burger Meal

As many of us are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, we have had to make many cuts in our eating habits and consequently now start to salivate at the sight of a lot of fast foods such as a good burger, French fries, lasagna, cakes etc. At the beginning of the year, a group of my closest girls (including my sister and cousins) and I decided that we would adopt a new eating habit for the New Year. I’m happy to say that six months in, we are still going strong! What has made us successful thus far is 1) the fact that we have a group chat for motivation and sharing ideas and 2) we have continually been sharing alternatives to popular foods that are usually rich in carbs and sugar. Today, I’m sharing my alternative to the typical burger and fries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of ground turkey ( I like to get the one from the meat department at Whole Foods)
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper
  • Yellow mustard
  • Homemade Marinade (for recipe, see my DIY article here: http://wp.me/p5DKT0-1G)
  • Egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Red pepper flakes or Cayenne Pepper or any other hot sauce

Using a large bowl, pour a couple of tablespoons of the homemade marinade on the defrosted ground turkey. Add in the seasoning salt, the Worcestershire sauce, a teaspoon of mustard, and black pepper and pepper flakes (or substitute) to taste. Add the egg as a binding agent to ensure that your burger will not crumble. Form 4 oz patties and fry in a hot pan coated with a tablespoon of olive oil.

As an alternative to a burger bun, I use a naan flatbread and as a cheese option, I use smoked provolone (my weakness) and substitute the traditional French fries for baked sweet potato fries. To create a steakhouse burger option, I added sautéed Portobello mushrooms with red onions and some mixed greens. Instead of the traditional condiments, I made a glaze with a habanero gold and apricot jam (purchased at the local farmer’s market), some honey and a tad of yellow mustard.

The first time I made this burger, it was a hit with my friends! This recipe is not a definite low calorie one however, the ingredients have higher value in the calories such as higher protein, less fat etc. (The picture attached to this blog is an actual picture of my meal)

Overall, when adopting a healthier diet, the key is to increase the amount of your meals are homemade as it provides you with the opportunity of controlling exactly what goes into your food. Have fun with learning new recipes and Pinterest is your best friend! You may also consider the following websites: allrecipes.com, foodnetwork.com, and myfitnesspal.com.

Enjoy!

Reese

Sticking to your diet!

Summer is fast approaching and we are all planning on heading on vacation and for most of us, our destination will most likely include a pool or a beach and this means a bikini ready body! So in order to prepare for our beach or pool days, many of us have started watching our weight or heading back to the gym. While the intention is always there, for many of us, the motivation dies quickly after about a week. Since I’ve also been in this situation many times, I’m going to share with you four tips that really helped me tick to the plan. Whether you are choosing to diet or simply make regular trips to gym, these tips will apply:
– Have a piece of clothing as motivation. Is there one particular outfit that used to be your go to for a boost of confidence? Maybe lately, it’s not fitting quite the same? Then put that dress on display in your closet and make it your goal to get back into that outfit!
– Get a work out partner/coach that will motivate you or a diet buddy. Sometimes the intention to go to the gym is there, however, after a long day of work, you simply want to leisure walk on the treadmill to fulfill the “working out” requirement. However, we all know that leisure walking on the treadmill while it will still help your heart, will not get you any closer to shedding the pounds! Find a workout partner who is just as serious about losing weight or getting in shape and be each other’s motivator. You must establish trust between the two of you because there are days that there will be some yelling involved and you will need to remember that it is out of love lol. If you decide to go on a diet, find someone to do it with you and be each other’s motivator, share recipes or have meals together to keep each other on the right path.
– Find alternative recipes. Whether you are simply working out or have chosen to maintain a different diet as well, alternative recipes to mainstream foods rich in carbs and fat will be beneficial. Today there are so many alternative recipes that are so tasty, you will never want to go to the less healthy version! (Look for my alternative to the regular burger in the Beauty & Health section http://wp.me/p5DKT0-2B).
– Set a goal date. Whether it is the beginning of summer, maybe your birthday, or better yet an event to attend, set your goal date and keep working towards your goal and do your very best to achieve it! Keep the calendar handy and you will feel the pressure (and motivation) build as the date approaches.
At the beginning of the year, I had set a goal to get my stomach as flat as possible for a wedding on Memorial Day weekend. I purchased a dress that I know would require the type of stomach that I wanted to achieve (as the material was spandex), and made sure that my trainer knew my goal. With her help, I cut out many of my favorite carbs or found better alternatives, did boot camp style workouts three times a week and for the last month I also went walking for 45 minutes on my off days. While I did not gain a six pack yet, I was happy that I wore my dress and no Spanx were required!!! Furthermore, there is a feeling that you get once you start seeing results that just makes you even more motivated to continue with your workouts or your diet. I hope that my suggestions will help you as well and remember that the most important goal is to feel good in your body and to be healthy!
Have fun!
Reese

Dear High School Graduate

As the school year is coming to an end, many of us will be attending graduation ceremonies. This is one of my favorite times of the year as I love to watch students get recognized for their hard work. College was a great time in my life and while I did not have the traditional college life, I wouldn’t trade that experience for another as I believe it helped shape me into the adult that I am today. While graduates are usually told to expect become more responsible, learn independence, how to do laundry etc. There are some advice that I wish graduates would hear more often. Here are some of the advice I wished someone had told me (I discovered some of those on my own and fortunately took advantage):
– Select a major that you are passionate about – the worst thing that you can do is pursue a degree in a certain field because it is lucrative. While you may complete it (some students don’t and end up switching majors two to three years into the program), chances are you will become miserable once you enter the workforce. Every career has some requirements that are less desirable, however, if you are if you are passionate about your career, you will enjoy even the downfalls.
– Take advantage of all of the interest clubs and organizations – especially while in your first two years, it is the easiest time to participate in all types of organizations while still taking your general education courses. Clubs and organizations help you explore different careers and help you decide which path you want to take (if you are unsure) but they also provide you with further exposure in that field and hence increase your chances of obtaining internships and scholarships.
– It’s okay to attend a two year college first – choosing to attend a two year college after high school is the ideal choice, unless you have secured a full ride scholarship to a four year institution. Two year colleges not only facilitate the transition from high school into college, they eliminate having to sit in an auditorium where you are nothing but a number to the professor. Furthermore, they share plenty of the clubs and organizations present in a four year university and many of the times they also share faculty with nearby four year institutions. However, the best advantage of two year colleges is that they are less expensive! So if you (or your parents) are paying out of pocket: this should be a no brainer.
– Travel abroad – this is probably the cheapest method for you to travel around the world! Most of the time, travel abroad costs usually include airfare, lodging, and transportation. So this only leaves you to cover your with meals and even those are sometimes covered in the fees. So pack up that suitcase and take that trip, you are bound to have the experience of a lifetime and if you can do so with some friends, even better!
– It’s okay to have a goal – while in college, I was determined, I had waited a year after graduating high school to start and decided that it had been vacation enough and wanted to recuperate the time lost by attending school year round full time including the summer. Meanwhile, I had former classmates who decided to “enjoy the college life” and skip terms instead. Needless to say, by the time they graduated, I was already in my second semester of graduate school.
– Do not stop at your bachelor’s – the workforce is becoming more and more filled with individuals with degrees so the more specialties you can learn (certificates included), the more marketable you will be.
Remember, these four years will definitely change your life! You will grow and may even adopt a different lifestyle (hopefully in a positive way lol), however, they will forever leave an imprint in your life and will also shape you for the workforce. Be sure to enjoy yourself but remember to keep your eyes on your goal. Ultimately, there is only one person directly affected by your choices and that is you.
Congratulations graduate, the world is yours to conquer!!!
Reese