Saturday, January 30, 2010


So, the first night of our "Empty Fridge, Empty Wallet" challenge ended up not being much of a challenge at all. Our friend CJ offered to bring over pizza from a new place in town called West Crust Pizza (on 82nd, west of Frankford). Josh and I had tried to go there once before, but the wait was long and we were in a hurry. So, when CJ offered to bring it over tonight, we were excited to try it out (and very thankful to him)!

We chose the "Spinach Dates Prosciutto" pizza, which had prosciutto, dates, spinach, feta, and mozzarella. It was delicious! I would highly recommend it. You can find their website here.

Empty Fridge, Empty Wallet

Well, last night we concluded our relaxing snow day with some homemade pizza. I used the same recipe from a few weeks past (you can find it on an old post). The only difference was this time I used shredded mozzarella, not the fresh stuff (it wasn't as good, but still not too bad)!

This morning I made this for breakfast. It was very simple, just top a piece of toast with scrambled eggs, salsa, cilantro, and cotija cheese. It was a good way to use items I had in the fridge from previous meals, and was a nice, healthy, and filling breakfast.

Well, as you can see, there isn't too much in our fridge at the moment (besides ridiculous amounts of condiments, why is that always the case?). So, here is the challenge set before me; I have about $30 to my name until next Thursday (waiting for payday...seems to be the case all the time), and that money needs to be saved for gas. We have one car between the two of us, which happens to be a four-wheel drive Chevy truck, not exactly the most fuel efficient vehicle. So I must use the contents of this sparsely occupied fridge along with the random selection of pantry goods to feed Josh and myself through this week. I also have some chicken breasts in the freezer. I have looked over the selection, and think we can do it.

So stay tuned for empty fridge and empty wallet week with the Dieting Doughgirl.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Well, the lazy snow day theme has continued at the Collins' household. The only work I have done is cooking, which does not seem like work to me. We decided it was time for lunch, and realized it was already 3:00 (what a glorious day)! I had seen a salad recipe on Barefoot Contessa last week, and bought a few of the ingredients this week. I thought I would make that for our lunch, since we had eaten such a big brunch. However, I realized that I was missing quite a few of the ingredients, so I just made my own version.

Place a couple handfuls of arugula in a bowl, and top with roughly chopped Granny Smith apples (I used one apple for two salads), dried cranberries, walnuts, cotija cheese (or feta), cracked pepper, and lite honey mustard vinaigrette (I used Annie's naturals brand).

This was a great salad, very fresh, and a great blend of sweet and sour flavors. Josh and I both loved it. I will make it again, and sometime try the recipe I saw on the show too, it seemed to have a good homemade dressing.

Time for more laziness!


The scene in Lubbock yesterday and today looks like this (side note: this picture was not taken in my neighborhood, although I wish it were; it is in Vintage Township) . I am loving the beautiful snow, but even more than that, the fact that I get the day off because of it!

When I was younger, I would get so excited about snow days. I loved getting out of school, and having a chance to play in the snow (which was very rare in East Texas). The funny thing is, now I think I like snow days even more than I did then! There is something about having an unexpected day off, with absolutely nothing I am required to do that makes me feel like I am in a complete state of bliss. I knew I would not have to go into work today when I went to bed last night, so I was able to sleep in (no alarm, hooray!), and enjoy a slow-paced morning. I cooked a nice brunch, and had time to enjoy my coffee rather then throw it in a mug and run out the door.

I saw a recipe on a new Food Network show the other day (Mexican Made Easy), for chilaquiles. This is a traditional Mexican brunch dish. It was first created to use corn tortillas that have gone stale. It is strips of tortillas fried a little, then cooked in a sauce. They are often served with eggs and or beans.

I was first introduced to chilaquiles on a trip to Cancun, Mexico a few years ago. The hotel where I was staying had an amazing breakfast buffet each morning, and they had chilaquiles with different sauces everyday. Since then, I have tried chilaquiles at every Mexican restaurant I find that serves them. When I lived in Las Cruces, there was a great little restaurant called Good Luck Cafe. They made very authentic Mexican dishes, none of the employees spoke English, in a very plain building (for those of you that live there, it is on Solano between Missouri and Lohman). I am not sure where they got the name for the restaurant, it does not seem like a very fitting name for a Mexican restaurant, I guess it just adds to its charm. Anyway, they have wonderful chilaquiles, which I loved to get when I lived there.

So, today I tried this new recipe. I actually made the salsa verde last night and left the tortillas out, then cooked everything this morning. I served it with scrambled eggs. You can find the recipe here. When you are looking over the ingredients, a few things may seem unfamiliar. Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes, but they are wrapped in husks. Serrano peppers look like thin jalapenos, and are a little spicier. I added roasted green chiles (surprise, surprise), and instead of queso fresco, I used cotija cheese, which is a similar, crumbly Mexican cheese. I found it at my local grocery store.

The recipe turned out to be delicious! Josh and I both loved it. It was easy to make, and like most Mexican food, very inexpensive! The salsa has chicken broth, but to make it vegetarian, I think you could substitute vegetable broth. I will definitely make this again, and think it will be great for company as well. You can prepare the salsa and tortillas the night before, so your work the next day is minimal. I also am going to look into chilaquiles made with red sauce to try as well.

Well, I am off to enjoy a wonderful, relaxing day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Light Lunch

Today for lunch, I came home and made this salad. It contains: spring mix, quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh grated parmesan, cracked pepper, homemade croutons, and balsamic vinaigrette. Here is a quick and easy way to make homemade croutons: cut bread into pieces (I used whole wheat sandwich bread), place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and spices (I used garlic pepper today). Bake at 425 degrees about 5-10 minutes, or until crispy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Well, the past week or so I have not done a very good job at sticking with a healthy lifestyle. There are many factors contributing to this: laziness, lack of money, lack of time, lack of motivation...I could go on. Anyway, I am realizing more and more that I have to stay on top of things, be organized, and not give in to temptations (to sleep too much, eat too much, etc.). When trying to lose less than 15 pounds, every workout and every meal seems to count extra. I will do well for a few days, lose 2-3 pounds, then do poorly for a few days and gain them right back.

One thing I have noticed is that I need to stay organized, and plan out meals, groceries, budget, etc. When I don't plan these things well, we seem to run out of food and money at the same time, and our "reserves" seem to always be junk food. This month one of my goals is to do a better job with all of this so that I will have good, healthy meals planned, and a good supply of healthy snacks. I noticed on Monday at work how hard it is to get through the day when you are hungry, and the temptation to eat a lot when you get home from work if you have not eaten well throughout the day. Last week I brought snacks to eat when I have breaks, and it really made a difference. On Monday I had a small, healthy lunch around 11:00, but nothing else to eat until after 5:00 when I got off work. My energy was low that afternoon, and I was starving when I got home.

So, I got paid (from one of my jobs) yesterday, and was able to pick up some groceries. A friend at school had given me a big bag of M&M's, which I definitely do not need to be eating in large quantities, so I decided to make some GORP with it. What is GORP you may be asking yourself? Well, it is basically trail mix. I have heard it stands for "Good 'Ole Raisins and Peanuts." When I worked at the Outdoor Pursuits Center in college, we made this to take on all of our outdoor trips. It was wonderful in the middle of a day of backpacking, because it helped give you the boost of energy you need. It generally has some sugar, salt, and protein. There are many variations when making this, and last night I made mine with equal parts M&M's, Raisins, and unsalted dry roasted peanuts. You can also add cereals, pretzels, reeses pieces, dried fruits, or anything else along those lines. Now, this is not something I need to eat large amounts of, but a handful in the middle of the morning or afternoon gives me a good energy boost, and calms my appetite.

Last night Josh had his night class, and I was coming back from coaching a basketball game out of town, so I decided it would be a good night to pick up dinner. I went to Rudy's Barbecue, which is close to my house, and very good. I ordered a turkey sandwich, which I feel is a fairly healthy option, but I decided to add a side of potato salad, which may not have been the best idea (probably a lot of mayonnaise in that).

On Monday, I tried to think of a healthy lunch I could make quickly at home during my lunch break. We did not have much in the fridge or pantry (this was pre-payday, so pickings were slim), so I decided to go with pasta. I cooked bow tie pasta, then added quartered cherry tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, dried basil (fresh would have been better, but I did not have any), fresh grated parmesan, and salt and pepper. It was really good and light! I think this might also be a good cold pasta you could make the night before, stick in the fridge, and eat it cold the next day.

Exercise update: I actually exercised! It had been awhile. Last night I went climbing again with some friends. I am really enjoying getting back into it. It is such a great workout, and I feel like I push myself more with climbing than any other sport I do. When you climb, your goal is very obvious, and I find the challenge really fun and rewarding (completing a difficult route after many attempts feels really good)! My motivation to push myself with sports like running is a lot lower. I know I could run harder than I do, but it is easy to just settle into a slow pace and go.

This morning, I tricked myself into getting up and running. This is how: last night I set my phone alarm and set it on my bedside table. I also set my ipod alarm for 10 minutes later, and put it on the floor so that it would require more effort. When the phone alarm went off this morning, I told myself I was not running today and reset it for 45 minutes later. However, when my ipod went off, I had to reach down and get it, making myself wake up more. I laid in bed fighting an internal battle of whether or not to get up, and the good side squeaked out the victory today! I ran for 20 minutes (in freezing temps), and came home in time to get ready for work and eat a good breakfast.
I like using this light vanilla flavored soy milk in cereal. It is healthy and a little easier on the stomach. Some of you may be thinking soy milk sounds really gross, which is partially true. I don't think it is that great as a drink on its own, but it tastes good in cereal, and I particularly like the vanilla flavor. So, I had a bowl of organic toasted oats (similar to Cheerios) with soy milk and topped with blueberries...not too bad!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

Well, this weekend was not the most successful as far as diet and exercise go, but it wasn't too bad (or at least that is what I am making myself believe). I did not exercise much, just some weight workouts at home last night. I did, however, enjoy some good food favorites and such that I thought I would share.

The picture above is of my cute coffee mug I found at one of my favorite local stores here in Lubbock, Hodgepodge Design. It is on 26th and Boston, next to J&B. They have home decor, jewelry, stationary, and other fun items. You can find their website here. The style reminds me of Anthropologie. I have found so many fun things there. Some of my friends have had their wedding invitations made there, and my mom ordered some really cute shower invitations their once.

Below is a picture of some amazing gelato I found this weekend. Now, I realize this is not that healthy, but it is better than ice cream, and the main thing is, I have a very small portion when I eat it. Gelato is easier to eat in small portions too, because it is so rich. I found this at Market Street, and the nice design of the container hooked me (I am a marketer's favorite type of customer-they get me every time)! This is excellent gelato, and it is made in Dallas, so it is a great way to "Go Texan."

On Saturday my friend Beth and her husband were in town visiting. I went to lunch with them at Fuzzy's Taco Shop, which has locations in Lubbock and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I ordered the tempura fish tacos, which I had never tried before. They were filled with fried fish, cilantro, garlic sauce, and feta cheese. I would definitely order them again. I had two, which was a good amount, but not too filling.

On Saturday night I used our leftover taco meat to make nachos. I like to bake nachos in the oven, especially when they are for more than one person. It is easier to spread it all out on the pan, which allows the cheese to melt more evenly. I topped tortilla chips with taco meat, green chiles, and cheese, then baked them at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes or until the cheese was melted. I usually like to use black beans too, but I did not have any on hand.

Sunday night was not healthy, but sure tasted good! I have been buying frozen pizzas at Target, their Archer Farms Brand. They have thin crust style, which is really good. They have different toppings, and last night we had the most unhealthy, pepperoni. I added some of our roasted green chiles on top (I know you are probably sick of hearing about those at this point, but we love them so much!). In New Mexico, it is very popular to put green chiles on pizza, and it is so good! I highly recommend it!

I was going to wake up this morning and run, but when the alarm went off, I just couldn't do it. Mondays are rough! Anyway, I am going to try to run tonight after work (hopefully I can muster up the motivation).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So-So Soup

Last night I tried another new recipe, this time for French Onion Soup. I don't like onions too much, but I love French Onion Soup (I know, it's strange). Anyway, I pulled this recipe out of Cooking Light a year ago, but had yet to try it. It was okay, but nothing great. Josh felt the same way. I think next time I will try a different recipe. The one I used called for chicken broth, and most other recipes I have seen call for beef broth, so I think that may give it a better flavor. Anyway, if I try another recipe, I will let you know!

When Josh and I got married, I thought I did a good job of registering, but as I have gotten more and more into cooking since then, I realized there were quite a few things I wish I had requested. So, I have slowly tried to add those things to my kitchen collection. I used some of my Christmas money this year to purchase an 11-cup food processor, which I am loving (I went with the Cuisinart one). I originally thought I would use it mostly for soups and dips. However, last night I discovered one of it's amazing powers...the shredder. A week ago, when we had some friends over for pizzas, my friend brought a block of mozzarella. We spent quite awhile shredding it with a hand grater. Well, on one of my cooking shows this week, the chef grated her cheese in a food processor, and I quickly realized it was something I needed to try. So, when I needed to shred my gruyere cheese for our soup last night, I used the food processor, and finished in about 5 seconds. I was so happy, and was exclaiming my excitement to Josh and our friend CJ, who was eating with us. I think they were pretty amazed too, even if they weren't showing it as much as I was.

Exercise update: well, there isn't one right now. I did not work out yesterday, and have not yet today. I might get to do a little tomorrow...hopefully.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Busy Week Recipes

Well, it's been a busy week, so sorry I haven't written in awhile! That also means this post will be extra long. I know most of you have been dying to see when I would post next (or maybe just my mom was, but I am glad to have a faithful reader)!

On Monday night I tried a new steak recipe and made my own french fries to go with it (it was make what we have on hand night, which just happened to be steak and potatoes-can you tell I am from Texas?). A friend had mentioned a good rub for steaks if I searched "Cowboy Steaks" online. I found a good recipe on the Food Network website that was really easy, and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry. You can find it here. I used the rub in the recipe, and tried broiling my steak, which I had been wanting to attempt for awhile. I think it could have been good, but I kept them in there just a little too long, so it was more cooked than I would have liked. Next time I think I will just follow the recipe that goes along with the rub and cook it in a pan.

I made my own version of shoe string fries by cutting russet potatoes into thin strips, laying them out on a baking sheet and drizzling them with olive oil and spices. I used chili powder, garlic pepper, and season salt. Then I baked them at about 450 degrees until they were a little crispy. I ended up baking them about 15 minutes then broiling them for a few minutes, just keep an eye on them, and figure out how long is best. I liked these fries because they are cheap, quick, and healthy!

Monday morning Josh ran with me, which was really nice. I do enjoy running on my own, but it's nice to have company sometimes too. It's also good to have someone to help push me to work a little harder!

On Wednesday night I made Pasta Pomodoro from a recipe in my Cooking Light cookbook (and just changed it up a little, so I am giving you my version). It was quick, simple, and good. It's a great meal for weeknights when you get off work and don't have time to cook a big meal. For the two of us I used about 1 1/2 cups (dry) penne pasta, which you cook as directed on the box. Then, in a pan, saute about 3 cloves minced garlic in olive oil. Next, pour one 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes in with it, along with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then let simmer about 5-7 minutes (you want the sauce to thicken a little). Remove from heat and stir in fresh basil. Split penne between two bowls. Top each with sauce and fresh grated parmesan. I also added some red pepper flakes to mine for a little spice.

Tonight I made tacos and my black bean and corn salsa. Josh had a meeting and was not going to be eating dinner with me, so I just decided to make some taco meat to use for a little taco salad. I always just make taco meat with ground turkey or beef (turkey is much lighter, but tonight it was beef because I already had some on hand) and store bought seasoning packets (my favorite is Lawry's, probably because it was what my mom always used). Taco meat makes great leftovers too (makes me look forward to my lunch break tomorrow)!

I like to use the meat for a taco salad, which for me consists of blue corn tortilla chips, my black bean and corn salsa (recipe below), my regular salsa (which I have on a previous post), reduced-fat Mexican shredded cheese, and the taco meat. Tonight I tried to use a smaller portion of meat and cheese to be healthier. I like the black bean and corn salsa because it is healthy and filling, so you can use less meat and not notice.

I ate something similar to my black bean and corn salsa once, and decided to come up with my own. It is inexpensive, easy to make, pretty, and good! It's great for parties because it makes a lot and you can make it ahead of time (just wait to add the avocado until just before your guests come so it doesn't get to brown). Here is the recipe:

Chelsea's Black Bean & Corn Salsa

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
  • 2 small avocados or 1 large, chopped
  • Julio's Seasoning (this may only be available in Texas, I am not sure) or other Mexican seasoning or season salt
  • Fresh lime juice (about half of a lime)
Stir all ingredients together in a bowl and add the seasoning to taste. You can also add fresh cilantro if you have some. This is great in salads, as a dip, or to top grilled chicken.

Okay, now to the exercise update...

Sunday night I went rock climbing at the indoor climbing wall at Tech. I use to do it a lot in college, but not much since then. It was really fun, and is a wonderful workout, so I am hoping to keep doing it about once a week.

On Monday I ran with Josh, which I mentioned earlier. Tuesday I was busy working and did not workout. Wednesday morning I decided to work out inside, which for a cardio workout wasn't the best for me. I did not work as hard as I do when I run, so it probably was not the best idea. However, Josh and I did go for a walk together that night, so I got a little more exercise in, just nothing strenuous.

Today I had a break in the middle of the day, which I normally do not have, so I decided to go for a run (and this isn't even one of my official running days-I am crazy!). It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so it was nice to run in shorts and soak up the sunshine. I even ran longer this time-25 minutes (I know, it's not that much, but remember, we are taking baby steps here)! And after dinner I did some weight workouts at home. I think tomorrow I am going to do weight workouts in the morning, and hopefully run later in the day, and if not then, I will definitely run Saturday.

Well, hopefully next week I will be able to write more regularly!

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Cookie Time!

That title is a little reference to Troop Beverly Hills, man I use to love that movie! Well, Thursday night we ate leftover enchiladas for dinner, but afterward, I decided to bake some cookies using a new recipe I found. The recipe is from my Cooking Light cookbook, and is a lighter version of regular chocolate chip cookies. It's their Double-Chocolate Chip Cookies.  In the recipe it calls for dried cherries and white chocolate chips as well as semisweet chocolate chips, but since I only had semisweet chocolate chips on hand, I just doubled the amount of those. This recipe has you freeze the dough before baking, and it really helps keep the cookies in a nice shape, so I may keep doing that from now on. The first batch I made the cookies bigger than they suggested, but I made another batch yesterday with smaller cookies, and I think they turned out a little better. Plus, it is easier to eat less with smaller cookies!

Friday night we had friends over and made pizzas using the Pillsbury crust. My friend brought a bunch of different toppings, and we all made what we liked. It was fun, and the pizzas were very good.

On Friday morning I was super tired when the alarm went off, so I decided to sleep longer and run today (Saturday) instead. I think it was good, because I was behind on sleep, and I was able to get a nice run in this morning. Josh had a meeting at school at 10:30, so I dropped him off, then parked my car at J&B Coffee, which is in my favorite neighborhood in Lubbock, Tech Terrace. I ran around the neighborhood, which was a nice change of scenery.

I felt pretty good on the run again. I still go at a pretty slow pace, but I feel okay while I do it (it is difficult at times, but I don't feel like I am dying or want to throw up). I have a great playlist on my ipod to make things a little more enjoyable. At one point on my run, I was listening to a Vampire Weekend song (they are one of my favorite bands, and don't get turned off by the name, their music isn't morbid), and I just started smiling, and I really just wanted to start dancing down the street like I was living a Broadway musical. I refrained from the dancing, but if anyone saw me, they were probably wondering why I was smiling while running. I am sure it looked pretty odd. I ran 20 minutes again. Well, actually, I kept running to 21 minutes, since I am so hard core now. Then I walked a few blocks back to my car and went into J&B to have some coffee and do a little work...not a bad morning!

For lunch, Josh and I went to one of my favorite local restaurants, Thai Pepper. I ordered chicken fried rice, which is my favorite meal there (I know, it's not too exciting, but it's really good!). I ate half of it and took the rest home. I think that is one of the best ways to stay healthy when eating out. The portions are usually so huge, so if you can put half in a to go container, it will keep you from over eating.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tonight for dinner I made a "Chelsea Classic." For those of you that have eaten at my house before, you know one of my favorite dishes to make is green chile enchiladas. Living in New Mexico, I learned so much about the wonderful food made there. When you order enchiladas in southern New Mexico, they are usually stacked (lasagna style), rather than rolled, like you will find most places. So, after eating them at many restaurants there, I came up with my own version that is simple, quick, and cheap! This can also be frozen before baked or stuck in the fridge and baked later. This is a great dish to bring to a friend that may need a meal because they can just stick it in the oven so it will taste very fresh. Here is the recipe:

Chelsea's New Mexico Style Stacked Enchiladas:
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • about 1-1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
  • 1 can Hatch brand green chile enchilada sauce (any brand will work, this is just my favorite, and it's from New Mexico)
  • 2 eggs (optional)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro (for garnish)
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Pour enchilada sauce into microwave-safe dish, and heat for about 20 seconds
  3. Heat tortillas in microwave for about 20 seconds
  4. Spray baking dish with cooking spray.
  5. Place 2 tortillas in bottom of dish
  6. Pour some enchilada sauce over tortillas (just enough to cover the tortillas). Top with a small handful of cheese. Repeat layers twice, placing most of the cheese and sauce over the top layer.
  7. Bake in oven about 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
  8. Top with a fried egg over easy and fresh cilantro.
This will serve about 4-6, depending on serving size. You can also just make one stack (with just three tortillas) for a single serving. The egg isn't necessary, but adds a nice touch. The yolk tastes really good mixed with the enchilada sauce, and adds a little protein. Plus, it makes it a more authentic New Mexican dish!

For breakfast, I looked at what we had in the house and thought of a quick but filling breakfast for Josh and me. Toast a slice of wheat bread, top it with a fried egg, fresh grated parmesan, Italian parsley, and pepper, and voila!

Last night I tried two new recipes for dinner. One was a steak recipe from my Cooking Light cookbook, and the other was a recipe for potato gratin I found in the latest issue of Cooking Light. You can find the recipe here. The potato gratin was really good but it was a little more time consuming with having to peel and slice the potatoes (I could really use a mandolin). The steak recipe was for a beef tenderloin with a wine sauce. The sauce was good, but it was difficult to get the steak just right because our cuts were so big (but everything is bigger in Texas, so what do you expect)?

For the steaks season 2 beef tenderloin steaks with salt and pepper. Place in pan on medium-high heat for 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan. Pour 1/2 cup sweet red wine and 1/2 cup low sodium beef broth in pan, reduce heat to medium. Return steaks to pan and cook until desired degree of doneness (2-4 minutes per side?). Remove from pan, add 1 tablespoon butter cut into small pieces, stir until melted. Cover steaks with sauce from pan.

I also cooked an easy asparagus recipe I came up with on my own that I like to cook often. Place asparagus in a baking dish or on a baking sheet (this may be better so you can spread them out). Place a few garlic cloves in with them as well. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. After you take them out, you can also top with fresh grated parmesan if you would like. These have a nice crispy texture and great flavor. They are easy but look elegant enough for entertaining. I made these at Thanksgiving, and everyone loved them.

I ran again this morning (I am trying to do it every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). It went much better today. It may have been because it was warmer (a balmy 34 degrees), or I just paced myself better. Anyway, I just felt better overall, and even had energy toward the end of the run to pick up my pace more. And my ipod didn't freeze this time! Running and eating a good breakfast really makes me feel better and more energetic throughout the day as well.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ready, Ready, Ready...Ready to Run!

Well, my alarm went off at 7:00 am this morning, and I only hit the snooze once! I then loaded on my layers (it was 20 degrees outside), which included fleece-lined running tights (glad I bought those back in college, even if they are a little tight, they sure are warm!), long underwear top, long-sleeve t-shirt, fleece vest, gloves, and fleece headband. I strapped on my ipod, stuck my camera in my pocket, and walked out the front door. I had this beautiful sunrise to greet me! I have always loved West Texas skies, and I usually witness the wonderful sunsets here, but not too many sunrises. I was very thankful to the Lord for the beautiful morning!

My plan for the run was to run continuously for 20 minutes. I am not worried about pace or distance at this point, just getting my heart rate up and getting a nice little workout. I began running and even thought to myself, "Man, I am starting out pretty fast here!" Well, that feeling did not last long. At one point I looked down at my watch and saw I had only been running for 10 minutes, and at that time I was thinking, "I feel like I am going to throw up."

I ran to a little playa lake by our house and it was really pretty with the sunrise as well. It is pictured below. There are a lot of geese that hang out there, so it was so pretty to see them in the water and hear a few fly overhead. At about 15 minutes, I thought to myself, "It is time to quit," but I managed to keep running. Although, running could be a relative term. A passerby probably would have thought "What is wrong with that girl?" I am sure I looked pretty pathetic. After the wanting to quit thought, near disaster occurred. My ipod froze...literally. The music stopped, I kept pushing buttons, and nothing (I guess they are not made for sub-freezing temps).

So, with no music to give me an extra boost, and only a few minutes remaining, I slowly, and bitterly plugged along. At 19 minutes I said out loud (I know, ridiculous), "You can do this," and I ran until the time ran up. At the 20 minute mark, I began to walk, and the "Hallelujah Chorus" rang sweetly in my ears.

Although my run was short, slow, and overall pathetic, I have to admit I am pretty proud of myself. I hope my brothers are reading this. They are both super fit run for fun guys (one even ran track in college). They know how bad of a runner I am, so they should be proud!

After my run, I took a nice shower, read my Bible while eating a good breakfast, then went to work. I have to admit, it was a good morning, and I felt great all day. I guess this exercise stuff is pretty good for you...who would have thought!

Today I brought a little of my Chex Mix to school for a mid-morning snack. I have heard many people recommend eating healthy snacks throughout the day to help cravings and metabolism, so I am trying to do that more. For lunch, I came home from work, and looked in the fridge to see what we had. I had some ciabatta and prosciutto left from the burgers the other night, so I put a prosciutto slice on each piece of bread, grated fresh parmesan cheese over it, then drizzled a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and basil over it. I toasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. It was a good, quick lunch.

For dinner we ate out because it was a busy night. Tomorrow is the day I pack my lunch for work, so I made a pasta salad I could take to work with me. This is a good, simple recipe, and I like that I can make a large amount of it, throw it in the fridge, and have lunch all week! This is a recipe my mom gave me at one time, I think she found it in a magazine awhile back. Here it is:
  • 16 oz. package shell pasta (or other pasta of your choice), I used Conchiglie from World Market
  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 3/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. chopped fresh basil
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside to cool, later you may want to run a little cold water over it to cool it more.
  2. Combine next 7 ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
  3. Pour cool pasta in large bowl. Pour oil mixture over, top with basil, cheese, and pine nuts. Toss well. Keep refrigerated and serve cold (or room temperature).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

British-Style Dinner

Tonight I made these blueberry-almond cookies, which are a favorite of mine. I saw the recipe awhile back on Everyday Italian. They are delicious and easy to make. You can find the recipe here. The only thing I change is not putting almonds in, just because I don't like nuts in cookies. Now, this isn't necessarily healthy, but I think having just one is an okay dessert. Tonight I had one with skim was very good!

For dinner, I tried a new recipe from the January issue of Cooking Light. It is for Beer Battered Fish and Chips. The recipe is available here. The recipe was pretty good, nothing amazing, but something I would make again. I liked that it only required five ingredients. I also thought the batter was tasty with the beer flavor to it. Josh really liked it too. The only suggestions I have for this are to make sure you slice the potatoes thin to keep the fries crispy, and to make sure when you fry the fish that you keep all the fish pieces from touching. If they don't have enough space in the pan, the batter will get stuck together and fall off the fish. Also, I seasoned the fries with Lawry's Less Sodium Season Salt instead of regular salt, which gave it a little more flavor. I found a pound of frozen cod fillets at Target for $8.99, which isn't too bad for fish (at least not in Lubbock).

Tomorrow morning I start my running. The forecast says it will be 18's going to be rough! More to come on that!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I would give myself a C for my efforts the past few days...

So, the past few days, my attempts at continuing a healthy lifestyle have been somewhat sub-par. I haven't done really awful yet, but I definitely would not be on the honor roll with my efforts. I have been eating a little bad (Starbucks for breakfast today and Chick-fil-A nuggets for lunch) I did not do any exercising Thursday or today, but yesterday Josh and I did some of the strength and core exercises I worked on earlier this week. Cardio workouts have been non-existent. Although, I did make a playlist tonight for my ipod, so that next week I can start running (and have some great tunes to listen to while doing so). Stay tuned to see how the running goes...

Wednesday dinner and Thursday lunch were both a hot dog with homemade Chex Mix. On Wednesday we kept some of our friends' kids at our house, so I made Chex Mix with them and we did hot dogs. It's such an easy and inexpensive meal for kids. I know hot dogs are not loaded with nutritional value, but looking at the fat and calories, having one isn't all that bad for you. So, if you like hot dogs, I would recommend trying it my favorite way, which is another thing I picked up in New Mexico. I like to top it with diced roasted green chiles, shredded Mexican cheese, mustard, and ketchup. It's very good.

For some reason (I do not remember why), I got on a kick of making my own Chex Mix earlier this year. I think it is much better than the kind that comes in a bag, and I think it may be a little bit healthier (maybe). The recipe is on most Chex cereal boxes, or you can find it here. The only thing I usually change is using cashews instead of mixed nuts because I like them better. Other times I will add or remove something depending on what I have around. The recipe makes a lot, so it is great for parties, traveling, etc. The only problem when trying to eat healthy, is it is easy to eat too much of it. I have to put some in a small bowl to control my portions.

Tonight I tried a new dinner recipe that I had seen on Everyday Italian on Food Network. It was for Prosciutto Lamb Burgers. They were pretty good. Josh really liked them, too. You can find a link to the recipe here. I don't think they were super healthy, but if you have a small one, it would be okay. I made ours bigger than the recipe called for, which I shouldn't have done, because I was only able to eat about half of it, and I am still stuffed. I made a few changes to her recipe. I put fresh mozzarella on it, and after cooking it the recommended time, put it in the oven with the broiler to help melt the cheese and cook the burger a little more. It was still about medium rare, since ours were thicker, I should have cooked them longer. I also put them on ciabatta bread, which I think was a good move. I toasted them in the pan for a minute just before cooking the burgers. I served mine with a salad, which was not that great, so I won't worry about sharing the recipe.

A little hint for those who live here in Lubbock...I bought the ground lamb at Red Raider Meats, which is at Tech in the Meat Science Building (across from the Rec). I have been buying most of our meat there because it is really good, fairly cheap, and frozen in small packages, so it is easy to buy in bulk and pull out as needed. Also, it is a great way to go local!

Well, hopefully next week I will be able to give myself an A for being healthy, we will see...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Breakfast Tostada

This morning I woke up sore once again, but I think a little less than yesterday (although that could all just be in my head). Anyway, I am hoping the more I exercise, the less sore I will feel.

I decided to make a new recipe today for breakfast for Josh and me. I had looked at a recipe in a cookbook, and made some changes to accommodate what we had available.

This was pretty easy to make. There was a good amount of the bean mixture left over as well, so it will be easy to make again or use in another dish. Josh and I both really liked this, and I will do it again soon. Just make sure you watch the tortilla in the oven. I forgot about it and it got a little too crispy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 2: Sore Muscles, But Good Meal

Day two began with me waking up feeling the pain! My "simple" workout left me very sore, particularly in my thighs and rear end. No bueno. So not only did I wake up feeling like I had aged 30 years over night, but it was also about 20 minutes before I needed to leave for work. I got ready really fast, poured my coffee into a travel mug then realized I had forgotten about packing a lunch. The selection of "pack and go" food is minimal at the Collins' household right now, so I packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on wheat and a yogurt. Not too tasty, but still healthy, so I guess it was alright. Breakfast was my coffee and a banana in the car, not the best start to the day, but alright for not planning ahead of time. It did make me realize how important it is to keep the fridge and pantry well-stocked with lunch items for days I need to take it to work, and good breakfast items to take in the car. More importantly, I need to wake up early so I will have time to eat a better breakfast!

Last night we stayed up really late hanging out with a friend, so between that and teaching elementary students today, I came home very tired. I was also very hungry from my small breakfast and lunch. So I decided (well, my stomach did), that it was time for a healthy snack. I made some of my homemade salsa the other day, so I ate that with some organic blue corn tortilla chips (Archer Farms brand from Target, good, cheap organic chips). The old Chelsea would have brought the entire bag out on the couch and eaten way too much, but the new Chelsea is way smarter. I put some chips on the plate with the salsa and enjoyed a well-portioned snack. I did mess up the nutritional value of it a bit by paring it with a Modela Especial Cerveza. It had been a long day...

I have always loved salsa, and when we lived in New Mexico, I grew to love it even more, especially those that were spicy. I thought salsa would be difficult to make, but after looking over some different recipes and making a few changes, I have come up with my own. Now, I don't always do the exact same amount of everything, so my measurements may need a little tweaking.

Here is the recipe for my salsa:

  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 serrano pepper (stem and seeds removed)
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers (stem and seeds removed)
  • About 5 roasted Hatch green chiles (stems and seeds removed)
  • About half a bunch of cilantro leaves
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • Salt and Pepper
Place all ingredients (except salt and pepper) in a blender or food processor (you do not have to chop them ahead of time). Pulse until blended well and fairly smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will stay about a week or more in the fridge. This will make a pretty spicy salsa, so if you like it more mild, leave the serrano out. Also, if you do not have fresh Hatch green chiles, you can find them canned in the Latin foods section of most grocery stores.

For dinner, I tried another recipe from my Cooking Light cookbook. It was very easy, good, filling, and inexpensive. I would definitely make it again. We both liked it a lot. It also makes a great vegetarian dish.

Exercise update: I skipped the cardio today (lazy and short on time), but still did the strength and core exercises similar to yesterday. Definitely difficult, but I survived (we'll see how I feel tomorrow).

Monday, January 4, 2010

Slow, But Good Start

Well, today is the first official day of being a healthy person. Last night Josh and I were very ambitious about starting the day off early. We do not go back to most of our school and work until next week, so we are still on vacation (the joys of being a teacher and a law school student, still on an academic schedule). Anyway, we have been staying up late and sleeping in most of the break, which has messed up our regular routine. So, Josh said we should get up at 7:00 this morning, eat, exercise, then get to work on things we both need to do to get ready for the semester.

Well, when we got in bed around 1:00 last night, we changed the alarm to 8:30. Then, Josh had a hard time sleeping and turned the alarm off. I had my phone alarm set for 9:00 (planning on our laziness), so when that went off, we hit snooze until 10:00. Not quite the early morning we were planning on, but we are taking baby steps!

For breakfast this morning, I made an old favorite of mine from college. When I worked at the Outdoor Pursuits Center at Texas Tech, one of the meals we would bring on canoe trips was yogurt with granola and fruit. It is a tasty, healthy breakfast that can be made in no time. Everyone is always saying breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but when you are short on time in the morning trying to rush to work, the meal is often skipped. So, I like this because it is so fast and simple.

To make my Hippie Yogurt (I will call it this since it is from my hippie days), you will need:
  • About 1 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt-I like to use all natural yogurt so I am not getting high fructose corn syrup and all the other junk that is in many yogurts. I used Brown Cow brand this morning, which is a good find because it is all natural, so it is a little cheaper than organic, but still better than the other stuff
  • About 1/2 cup granola-I love granola, but it is not always as healthy as you think. Make sure you find a brand that is low in sugar. Many granolas have tons of sugar.
  • Fruit of your choice for topping-blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and bananas are some of my favorites.

Today is also the first day of my new exercising self! I put an exclamation point there, but that doesn't mean I am actually excited, I am just trying to convince myself that I am. Anyway, after my healthy hippie breakfast, I did some strength and core exercises. They actually weren't too bad and only took about 10 minutes. I pulled out these 3 pound weights, which I bought about two years ago, but don't think I actually ever used.

I found the exercises in the January issue of Cooking Light. I tried to find them online to post a link, but they weren't on their website. So you may just want to pick up that issue if you are interested. One was just lunges where you hold the weights down to your side while you are doing them. Another core workout I did is called "Superman." You lay flat on your stomach with your arms stretched straight in front of you and palms down. Then you lift your head, arms, and legs, and hold them up as long as you are able. You repeat that 2 to 3 times. There was another exercise I did with the weights called a curl press that was good. I felt like they worked out my muscles well but weren't too difficult to where I felt discouraged. I feel good now, but may be sore tomorrow. Now Josh and I are going to the rec center to walk around the indoor track for awhile. I get to use these, which I bought last week and haven't used yet. Hopefully they will get lots of use, and I will be running in them soon, not just walking!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pillsbury Pizza Doesn't Get Much Better Than This!

My husband and I spent our honeymoon in Italy, and fell in love with the wonderful flavors of Italian cuisine. For many of our lunches there, we would have pizza. It was always inexpensive, fast, and delicious. Although I could never make pizza as well as the Italians, I feel like the dinner I cooked tonight was at least a good attempt from this Texas girl.

Tonight I tried out "Quick Pizza Margherita," another new recipe from my Cooking Light Complete Cookbook (thanks, Becca!). Josh and I loved this recipe, and it was very easy, so if you don't consider yourself much of a cook, give this one a try! It was full of fruity, delicious flavor from the balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and basil. And, of course, fresh mozzarella is always wonderful! Like the previous recipe, I tweaked a few things to suit my personal preference. The recipe calls for thinly sliced plum tomatoes, but I used sliced cherry tomatoes instead. I like the sweet, rich flavor of cherry tomatoes. I also like the fact that they are smaller, especially when eating pizza. It's a pet peeve of mine to bite into a tomato on a pizza and pull the entire thing off in one bite. So, the bite size slices of cherry tomatoes made a good alternative (although, I am not sure how the Italians would feel about that). The recipe also called for shredded fresh mozzarella, but I sliced the fresh mozzarella instead (this I think the Italians would be proud of). If you have not had fresh mozzarella before, you should definitely try it. It is much better than the shredded stuff you find on most American pizzas. Two of my favorite foods in Italy were fresh mozzarella, and prosciutto (I will have to share more about prosciutto at a later date). To find it fresh you will usually have to look with the specialty cheeses at your grocery store. It is much more expensive, and can be harder to find, but it is well worth it!

I also added fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (but not too much, since we are attempting to be healthier). The serving size of 2 slices was great for us, but we had eaten a big Sunday lunch, so if you want more of a meal, you may want to include a salad with the pizza. This makes a great dinner with plenty of good leftovers. It would also make a great appetizer for parties if you cut it into smaller slices.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Good Shrimp Recipe

Today I filled my body with junk food (remember, I am not trying to be healthy yet), but last night I did try a new recipe that was very good. Josh and I both loved it. I found it in the Cooking Light Complete Cookbook. It's the Spicy Peanut Noodles with Shrimp. I changed a few things due to personal preference, but it is mostly the same.

This recipe was full of flavor, and very filling (yet still healthy)! It was also quick and easy to make. I used the amount of chile paste the recipe called for, and the sauce was about medium-spicy. So, if you like it more mild, or more spicy, you can adjust the amount of chile paste. I also used zucchini instead of cucumbers (I am not a big fan of cucumbers), and I used half a pound of shrimp since it is so expensive out here in West Texas (not exactly close to the coast). I think this would taste good as a vegetarian dish by removing the shrimp, or with chicken instead of shrimp (which I might do next time to fit my budget better). Another change I made was sauteing the pepper and zucchini for a few minutes (just to soften them up a bit).

Some of the ingredients, such as the chile paste, udon noodles, and rice vinegar might not be available at your grocery store. I found them at World Market, so if you have one, you may want to check it out, or an Asian grocery store if you have one.

I don't have a picture of this dish, although in the future I will try to have pictures with most dishes I make.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

The Journey Begins...Sort of

Well, today is my first official day to blog. I have always admired my friends' blogs, but have never ventured into the blogging world myself. We'll see how this goes.

I was one of those lucky girls who easily gained the "freshman fifteen" (I don't know if it was exactly fifteen pounds, but it was somewhere in the vicinity). My dorm freshman year had tons of easily accessible junk food and my student dining card made it all seem free (although my parents knew that was not the case). Many pints of Blue Bell Ice Cream, bags of Doritos, and mini pizzas later, and it was a little difficult to zip up those high school jeans I had brought with me to school.

Throughout my college and post college years, my weight has continued to fluctuate from the thinnest I have been to the biggest I have been. I have never become extremely overweight, it has mostly been within about a 20 pound range.

This past year I have gained weight again, and my husband has joined me in doing the same. He is a busy second-year law student, and I am a busy high school teacher and coach (plus part time babysitter). So as 2009 drew to a close, we decided 2010 would be time to change. We both enjoy sports and activities and don't mind healthy food, but we also enjoy watching movies and eating junk food.

So, my goal with this blog is to chronicle our journey towards a healthy lifestyle. We are not trying a crash diet or anything too extreme (remember, we are very lazy), so instead we are going to work on eating healthier meals and using better portion control. I love to cook, and have spent the past few years (mostly since getting married) trying to perfect my culinary skills. I will continue to use old recipes as well as trying out new ones. Many will be from my new Cooking Light cookbook and the Cooking Light magazine my sister gave me a subscription to for Christmas (thanks, Erin!). I will also use many from some of my favorite chefs on Food Network as well as a few I have come up with on my own. On the exercise side of things we will try moderate, regular workouts. Some will be things I enjoy like hiking, tennis, and basketball, and others things I don't like as much like running, core exercise, and weight training.

I will be sharing the ups and downs of incorporating this new lifestyle, and share recipes, exercise ideas, and tips on good restaurants. Mostly, it will give me a chance to write regularly, venting about everything I hate about being healthy, and sharing my excitement over good food.

So, all of that to say, I will be starting my new healthy lifestyle...on Monday. For now, I have some bowl games to watch (which require copious amounts of junk food).