Thursday, February 26, 2015

Veggie Gyros

This recipe came into existence by mistake. I was trying to make this recipe for Greek Feta Burgers and thought I could get away with just using bread crumbs instead of herb stuffing mix. Yeah, it didn’t work. The mixture did not form patties very well and on cooking it I ended up with pan full of cooked feta, spinach and crumbles. In attempt to salvage the mess I put it on a pita with tzatiki and fresh veggies. Instant success! It has quickly become a family favorite (even for our non-Vegetarian extended family), although I wasn’t sure what to call it. We usually refer to it as ‘the greek veggie burgers that didn’t work, put on a pita’. I eventually decided that ‘veggie gyros’ was a better name. (Although I’m aware that they aren’t exactly gyros, Greek veggie tacos sounded like an oxymoron)
Veggie Gyros
For the crumbles:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp dill
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp herb seasoning
2 eggs, beaten
16oz fresh chopped spinach
2/3 cup feta, crumbled
tzatiki sauce (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion,chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
additional feta crumbles
1 Roma tomato, chopped (optional)
chopped cucumber (optional)
1. Mix crumble ingredients into a bowl. You want to make sure that all of the bread crumbs are moistened by the oil and the eggs and everything more or less evenly distributed. 2. Cook mixture in a large oiled skillet over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, or crumbles are crispy and well-browned. 3. Serve on a pita with tzatiki, feta and fresh veggies as desired. (My fam is not big on tomatoes or cucumbers, so didn’t bother, but I am certain they would work well.) Crumbles reheat well, makes 6-8 servings.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mini Spinach Quinoa Fritatas

Recently I decided that we eat enough spinach, that the one pound package from Costco is not enough spinach to last us a whole week. The 2.5 pound package is a stretch for us to get through before it goes bad. So this week we are eating LOTS of spinach and I thought I would share the recipes that are successful. My first new victory was mini spinach quinoa fritatas. It was a big success. Everyone in my family loved it, even my son who is the pickiest eater I have ever met. He didn't even mind that they were healthy.  VICTORY! These are great for breakfast or dinner and the leftovers are easy to reheat for later.

 Mini Spinach Quinoa Fritatas

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups chopped spinach
4 eggs
1 cup liquid egg white
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (whichever flavor you please)
1/2 cup mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin pan*. 2. Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl with a spoon. 3. Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 45 minutes. Cool a few minutes before eating. Makes 18 mini fritatas

* I used silicone muffin cups, so I skipped this step, but if you're not using these you want to be sure to use cooking spray to avoid the eggs burning onto the muffin pan.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Report on the 21 Day Fix

Last week I finished the 21 Day Fix. My verdict, I'm sure that this workout and eating plan are very effective, but between work and the start of my hardest semester of school yet, I did not have enough energy to be totally committed. I missed several workouts. I ate too many carbs. (I discovered that when I am exhausted I crave carbs so hard!) I ate large quantities of chocolate because I was really stressed. I gave up my hopes of getting results in 21 days, and then I noticed that despite my half-hearted attempt I had still made progress. I continued to lose a little weight and get more toned, despite not being as dedicated as I expected myself to be. This was my first workout program that required weights and halfway through I had to buy a new set because it was too easy. Imagine how much progress I could make if I were more focused. I think I may give it another shot in the future.

The 21 Day Fix is a program with 7 different workouts (one for each day of the week) plus a 10 minute ab workout that you can throw in as you please. The workouts are designed to rotate and work different muscle groups so you are making progress without over-using any muscle groups. The program also comes with several colored containers to make weight-loss simple. (Green for veggies, purple for fruit, yellow for carbs, red for protein, orange for seeds and dressings, blue for cheese, nuts, avocados and hummus) How much you eat of each container depends on your personal caloric needs (The instruction book comes with a formula.) It takes some of the stress out of a meal plan, and if you do the workout and meal plan together, you will see changes in your body in 3 weeks.
There's a few problems with the plan. It is very heavy on the protein. I'm a vegetarian, and I track my protein so I know that I'm getting enough, but not according to the 21 Day Fix plan. I felt like it was a big change for me, and one that my stomach didn't always agree with. Another problem, food items I normally consider protein, like beans and quinoa are classified as carbs in the plan. I've seen charts like this one:
However, they just moved the high protein carbs to the protein category. This does not change the nature of those foods. If the plan classified those foods as carbohydrates, then counting them as proteins is going to be far less effective for toning muscles than eating cottage cheese, eggs and lean meat. And veggie patties are considered a protein? I find that highly suspect, depending on the patty, many of them are held together with bread crumbs. So if you're not a vegetarian, I'm sure this workout/plan would work better than for someone like me whose body (and natural flora) scream "We are not making enough enzymes to handle all of these animal-based proteins that you are throwing at us! This is not going to end well for you!!!" If you are the average meat-loving American doing this program in an effort to get a 6-pack, you'll probably be just fine. Yes, I realize their is tofu, but I really can handle only so much of that.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you will probably have to just do a little more planning and preparation to make this work. This plan also made me realize my normal diet is pretty carb heavy, even if they are healthy carbs. I eat lots of whole wheat tortillas (filled with veggies), sandwiches with high fiber bread, brown rice, various potatoes and LOTS of sweet potatoes. When you're only allowed 2 servings of carbs a day, it forces you to evaluate what you are eating. 

 I also have to say that I wasn't really in love with the workouts. Maybe because I didn't have a big motivator to drastically change my body in 3 weeks. No wedding, no high school reunion, no beach trip. And that is really the focus, put in a lot of effort for 3 weeks and you will change your body. I was just looking for a new workout to change things up. I do LOVE the 10 minute fix for abs. It's the perfect workout to do before a 12 hour shift at work. I feel like any workout with weights I have to be alert or I'm going to hurt myself. When I workout before work I am NOT alert. With the 10 minute ab fix I can lay on the floor half conscious, tired tears running down my face as I do 10 or so kinds of crunches and by the end I feel more awake and ready to hit the day. I also really enjoyed the pilates and yoga workouts on the active recovery days. Maybe I just don't like doing reps with weights because it's really repetitive. Ok, basically I enjoyed every workout except the 2 cardio workouts. I hated those. But you have to work if you want the results.
Here are a few of my Instagram collages of my  21 Day Fix workouts: (Another bonus is that my kids love to do these workouts with me too)
The Lower Fix
The Cardio Fix
The Dirty 30 Fix
The Upper Fix
The Yoga Fix
And here are my results at the end. It's not a huge change, but I lost another 2 pounds, and all of my clothes are looser, and my abs are definitely firmer. Progress, people. Progress