Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super-Light Gameday Favorites

 The number one resolution made on January 1, 2014 was to lose weight.  Like most of America, I also made the resolution to get fit.  But unlike most people, I decided to approach the new year aiming to get healthy instead of just losing weight.  Interestingly enough, staying fit and healthy was number 5 on the list of the top ten resolutions (according to the University of Scranton).  I kinda caught the nutrition bug when I started taking a nutrition class at Grand Rapids Community College and I love it! Nutrition is a really interesting field to explore.  Since I'm in the Secchia Institute program, we are focusing on how we, as chefs, can create meals that are balanced and full of nutritious foods that customers will actually order off of a menu.

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 Many people only stick to their resolutions during the first couple weeks or so and most people don't even make it through January.  I wonder why people give up so easily? Maybe its because of all the fad diets that don't provide you with a balanced diet.  If you aren't consuming a diet consisting of protein, fats, and yes carbs, you are bound to begin to feel lethargic.  As I was flipping through the January/February 2014 issue of the Food Network Magazine, I came across the In the Know section which contained a very interesting fact.  The Food Network did a poll on Facebook and found that chocolate is the number one temptation for people to stop their resolutions.  That isn't that hard to believe though, I love chocolate!  But as long as we eat it in moderation, or with a balanced diet paired with physical activity its okay!

Keep checking the blog to see an upcoming post about this crowd pleasing favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake!

 To help me stay on track, I downloaded this free app, myFitnessPal.  They have apps for both Apple and Android phones.  The set up is simple, just put in your height and weight and how much you either want to gain or lose (because everyone wants to gain weight).  It will then give you a recommended calorie count for each day in order for you to achieve your goal.  I simply plug in what I'm eating each day for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks and it calculates how many total calories I've eaten.  Also, if I made it to the gym that day, I can easily look up the elliptical exercise on the cardio tab and plug in the number of minutes I did.  I really like it because it subtracts the calories you exercised from what you've eaten, allowing you to eat more!  Then, at the end of each day, you click the "finish logging for today" button, and it will tell you that if everyday was like today, you would weigh this many pounds in 5 weeks.  I've been sticking to this for about 2 weeks and I've already lost 2 pounds!

 It's really important to me that I stick to this healthy regime because summer is coming soon and I'm ready for some warmer weather! With the Superbowl being today and all, it can be hard to say no to the hot wings and seven layer taco dips and piled-high nachos.  I scoured Pinterest and Google looking for healthier options that I could complete last-minute, since I started looking yesterday. After scrolling for hours, and many debates with my guy about what everyone will actually eat and like, we decided on a taco bar! I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner!  It was an especially good idea because Meijer has a lot of specials going on for the Superbowl.

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 Heres some tips to help you have an awesome taco bar at your party!

 -Get lean ground beef, preferably 90-10 ratio.  It's an easy way to cut down on calories without sacrificing taste because of the taco seasoning.
 -If you're like me (a college student with her very first apartment) you probably don't have all of the necessary individual spices for taco meat just laying around.  Thats why I got a taco seasoning package which has just enough for our taco meat today and only cost 54 cents!
 -Buy a head of lettuce instead of precut mixes.  It doesn't take much lettuce to complete a taco bar and a head of lettuce is usually at least half the price of the mixes.
 -We chose the smaller variety of taco shells because they are only 110 calories for 2 shells (and they were on sale!).
 -You can do a lot of prep work ahead of time.  For example, I diced the tomatoes, minced some onions, shredded some lettuce, and cutting up carrots, celery, and broccoli to add some healthier options instead of chips with our tacos, last night.

In terms of actually setting up the taco bar, there are many different ways to arrange your toppings.  I saw a really cute idea on Pinterest! They saved jars from items like pickles and salsa, washed them out, removed the stickers, and put their fresh ingredients, like tomatoes and onions, inside with a spoon.  For other ideas for taco bars as well as other themed parties, check out my Party Ideas board or my Game Day board on Pinterest!  Above is how our taco bar turned out.  I'm sure that if I planned a little more in advance, I could've made it a little prettier but its okay because it tasted great!  And most of all, be sure to enjoy the game with those you love.