recipes

fruit juicee - orange banana blueberry watermelon

Here's a summer fruit juicee with some ingredients you might not think to combine, but which tastes surprisingly refreshing together:

Ingredients:
  • Orange Juice - 8 oz
  • Banana - 1, peeled
  • Blueberries - approx 2/3 cup, fresh or frozen
  • Watermelon - approx 1 cup, sliced into chunks
  • Ice (optional) - just a couple-few cubes


Directions:
  • Put all the ingredients into a Magic Bullet cup. (or any other blender device.)
  • Screw on the blade cap.
  • Blend until juicee'd.
  • Enjoy!


orange banana blueberry watermelon fruit juicee


orange banana blueberry watermelon fruit juicee


Nutritional Information:
  • Approximately 300-350 calories, depending on the amount of each fruit.
    • 110 calories from Orange Juice
    • 121 Medium Banana
    • 57 Blueberries
    • 46 Watermelon
    • Calorie counts for fruit provided by calorieking.com



A fruit juicee makes a great whole-food-ingredient replacement for a breakfast or "snack-aisle" snack. It's also terrific for refueling quickly after a good workout.

Give this one a try and let me know what you think!

- Chris Butterworth

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fruit juicee - orange apple banana

I've been drinking a fruit juicee most mornings lately, ever since I received a Magic Bullet as a birthday gift last month. I say juicee rather than smoothie, because I'm not adding any milk, yogurt, granola, or anything else to the recipe. This is nothing but fruit and juice, pure and simple:

Ingredients

  • Orange Juice - 8 oz
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Apple (cored, with or without the skin. Using the skin provides more fiber and antioxidants, but it also makes the consistency/texture of the juicee a little thicker.)
  • Ice (optional) - just a bit


Directions

  • Put all the ingredients into a Magic Bullet cup
  • Screw on the blade cap
  • Blend until juicee'd
  • Enjoy








Nutritional Information

  • The juicee will have approximately 300-350 calories, depending on the size of the banana and apple.
    • 110 calories Simply Orange orange juice (I switch between Simply Orange, Tropicana, and Minute Maid - whichever is on sale.)
    • 121 medium banana (per calorieking.com)
    • 93 medium apple (per calorieking.com)
  • I've been replacing my morning bowl of cereal with a juicee, so the trade-off is about equal, only I'm adding Mother Nature's real food and I'm removing grocery-store-boxed-food-with-unpronounceable-ingredients from my mornings.


Give this Orange Apple Banana Fruit Juicee a try and let me know what you think..

- Chris Butterworth

Promotional Disclosure - This is not a product review of nor am I receiving any payments from Magic Bullet. I simply use their product almost everyday. The links to Magic Bullet in this article are, however, associated with my amazon account.

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tasty pork and vegetable stew

My wife & I made this fresh and healthy stew for dinner last week. Preparation took a little more time and effort than I would normally prefer, but the end result was awesome - absolutely delicious, and it made enough to serve a great meal and a couple days' worth of leftovers!

Pictured here as leftovers, because I rarely remember to take pictures while cooking!


Ingredients List
  • 2 lbs boneless pork chops
  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 3 bell peppers of different colors. (we used red, yellow, and orange.)
  • 6 stalks of celery
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1/2 yellow onion (you can use more; I don't really love onions tho.)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (14 oz) low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • vegetable oil


Preparation
  • Cube the pork into bite-sized pieces
  • Peel and cube the potatoes into similar sized pieces.
  • Mix the sauces and spices into a bowl and stir until well mixed.
  • Brown the pork in a large pot, with a little bit of oil; set aside once browned.
  • Brown the potatoes in the same pot until they're just a little bit crispy on the outside.
  • While the potatoes are browning, slice the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
  • When the potatoes get a bit crispy, toss the vegetables into the pot with the potatoes. Add another splash of oil if needed.
  • Cook the vegetables for 5-8 minutes or until they start to get soft.
  • Add the pork and sauces to the pot with the vegetables. Bring it all to a boil, then let it simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Serving and Nutritional Information
  • Makes 8 servings
  • 378 calories per serving (estimated using the LoseIt app)
  • Protein - Carbs - Fat Breakdown: Yes, it has all of them. I don't keep track of how many grams of each I eat; I'm more concerned about eating reasonably sized portions of real food, and this definitely fits that bill.
  • Total cost: approx $20, depending on the varying prices of the ingredients and how much of the sauces and spices you already have on hand..


Let me know what you think if you try this one, or if you have a different recipe you'd like to share. Otherwise, happy eating!

- Chris Butterworth

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dinner made easy - turkey burgers and sweet potato fries

Sometimes you need a quick and easy dinner that doesn't require much in the way of prep work or cleanup, but you still want to eat healthy, and you'd prefer it if the food tasted good too.

We had one of those nights last week. Late meetings at work and homework that needed help left little time for a big dinner, so we turned to the freezer: Trader Joe's Frozen Turkey Burgers and Alexia Chipotle Seasoned Spicy Sweet Potato Fries (purchased at Fry's; rated 4.8 stars on 1,733 reviews on the Alexia website) answered the call.

Preparation

The turkey burgers went straight from the freezer to the grill. I let them cook a few minutes to thaw before adding seasoning, but otherwise I grilled them the same way I normally grill burgers and turkey burgers. Then I melted cheese for those who wanted it, and everyone is welcome to grab a bun and add condiments to taste.

The fries are even easier - turn on the oven, spread the fries out on a cookie sheet/pan, and in they go.

Add in a salad with some freshly cut tomatoes and cucumbers, and the whole meal took less than 10 minutes of prep time. (plus cooking time.)

Food Quality

We all know that fresh food is better than frozen, and packaged food is never as good as the food you prepare yourself (both in terms of nutrition and taste.) So how bad are these burgers and fries?

frozen turkey burgers
photo of the box - Trader Joe's Turkey Burgers


Well, the ingredient list looks safe: Turkey, Salt, Rosemary extract. We could get nit-picky about how much salt, and why didn't they just list rosemary / why extract? But compared with most pre-packaged foods that is an awfully short list, and there's nothing in that list I can't pronounce or tell you what it is.

From a calorie standpoint - 180 per burger will fit into just about any diet (unless you're trying to gain lots of weight!)

Now let's take a look at those frozen french fries..

alexia chipotle sweet potato fries
photo of the front of the bag

photo of the Nutritional Information

close-up photo of the Ingredient List


First I considered the calories, listed at the top of the Nutrition Facts.

  • 130 Calories per serving with 7 servings in the bag. However, we get about 5 servings out of the bag - we each eat a portion with dinner, and then one of my boys brings the extra fries in his lunch to school the next day.
  • 130 calories per serving * 7 servings = 910 calories in the bag.
  • 910 calories / 5 servings in our family = 182 calories per serving for our family (give or take for each person's portion.)


Next I read the Ingredient List, and while it's a longer list than I would have preferred, it's mostly powdered spices, and it's mostly things I've heard of and can pronounce. Even the things I wasn't sure about were short words and easy to pronounce, but I did have to look a couple up online:

  • Dextrin - this sounds like it could be man made, but then I found an article titled "8 benefits of dextrin" on a website called Global Healing Center, which made me feel better. Turns out dextrin is a natural fiber which can act as a binding agent. Hmmm, ok.
  • Gluconic Acid - the good news is that this is the last ingredient listed; the bad news is it shows up on a website called GMO Compass. However, even this website points out it's a naturally occurring fruit acid which accrues during the decomposition of carbohydrates. I don't know whether the gluconic acid in my sweet potato fries came from GMO carbs or not, but I'm not going to worry too much about it either. It's the only potentially bad ingredient and it's last on the list - I'll take the trade-off for my easy to prepare meal. (It's ok to just be healthy - you don't have to be perfect.)

Calorie Count

How many calories did my whole meal contain?

  • Turkey Burger - 180
  • Turkey Burger bun - 150
  • Cheese on Burger - 110
  • Condiments (ketchup, mayo, pickles) - 100
  • Chipotle Fries - 182 (per my revised calculation)
  • Salad - negligible
  • Ranch Salad Dressing - 75
  • Total Calories - somewhere in the neighborhood of 800, depending on portion sizes
    • If I was trying to lose weight and limit my calorie intake, I would skip the cheese, mayo, and ranch dressing, and I would have eaten a smaller portion of fries. That would keep the meal closer to 500 calories.
    • As it was, 800 calories for dinner works great for me as part of a 2,000 calorie diet in maintenance mode.
    • Either way, if you know what you're eating, what your daily goal is, and how much you've already eaten that day, you can plan and budget accordingly.


Meal Review

This was a good meal - maybe not something I'd crave in the mid-afternoon or travel across state lines for, but a good, fresh-tasting, full-flavored meal. It left me satisfied without feeling stuffed-full, and happy that I had eaten a reasonable amount of healthy calories. Prep work and cleanup are a breeze, too, which is a big bonus.

We'll definitely replenish our freezer and keep this in the rotation of "once every couple months when life is more frenzied than normal and we need to get dinner going in a hurry" meals.

Cheers to another easy-healthy meal.

- Chris Butterworth


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grilled cod with potatoes and vegetables

grilled cod with potatoes and vegetables


I always hear about how healthy fish is, but truth be told, I don't eat it that often. It's one of those foods that's awesome when it's prepared perfectly, but you can ruin the whole meal if you miss by just a little bit - either under or over-cooking, or by mis-seasoning it. (unlike a burger, where you've got plenty of margin for error on either side of medium-well..) Plus, my wife isn't a big fan of having the whole house smell like fish for the rest of the day.

That being said, once in awhile I get a craving for fish, and this weekend was one of those times. I had an idea in my mind about halibut with asparagus and rice pilaf, so Collin and I went off to hunt at the local grocery store.

It turns out they don't carry fresh halibut (and if they did it would be about $25 per pound, says the fish butcher), so we settled on cod - a 3/4 pound fillet for $4. The asparagus was priced high at $4 per bushel, so we reached for fresh green beans as an alternative ($2.50). As for the rice pilaf, Collin voted for french fries, and after last month's potato debacle, I've been looking forward to my next chance with the little spuds. We agreed on home-made steak fries. (a bag of red potatoes was $3.)

grilled cod, green beans, and red potato steak fries


This time I cut the red potatoes into steak fries. I placed them in open foil with a little oil and seasoned them with Montreal Chicken, then let them cook on the grill for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. I wrapped the fish in foil with some oil, water, sea salt, lemon pepper, and a pinch of garlic powder, and set it on the grill for about 15 minutes, flipping it a couple times throughout. The green beans got an oil spray with salt and pepper, and about 10 minutes on the grill.

* Note - my son Collin eats gluten-free and casein-free (basically no wheat or dairy). We try to modify our recipes to account for this, as a show of support and because it's easier than cooking multiple meals. If this wasn't the case, the fish and green beans would have been smothered in butter! :)

The Results

Awesome - This meal turned out perfect.

grilled cod, green beans, and red potato steak fries


CalorieKing says each serving contained 326 calories. (119 fish, 123 potatoes, 44 beans, and 40 oil.) Our servings of fish and potatoes were a little larger, so we might have been closer to 500. Still, this was a dinner that was fresh, healthy, less than $10 for both of us, and well within moderate calorie guidelines. I'll make this again later in the summer for sure.

collin enjoys a fresh grilled dinner


Would you want to try this meal, or do you have any recommendations for making it better? Come back and let me know in the comments!

-Chris Butterworth

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southwestern black bean corn chowder

southwestern black bean corn chowder


I made a new soup recipe this weekend that was good, really good. Filled with fresh foods and flavor, and short on calories. (You don't have to take my word for it - I know it's good when my wife likes it!)


southwestern black bean corn chowder


The Backstory. I ate lunch a couple weeks ago at The Keg Steakhouse, and was amazed by their Southwest Roasted Corn Soup - so much so that I felt compelled to recreate it. Unfortunately I couldn't find a recipe online that looked right, so I cobbled together my own recipe from bits and pieces of several others. Here's my take on it:

Ingredients

  • Black Beans - 2 cans (or 3 cups raw). If canned, rinse thoroughly
  • Frozen Corn - 1 bag (16 oz, approx. 2.5 cups)
  • Rice (white or brown) - 1/3 cup
  • Chicken Broth - 1 can (14 oz) low sodium
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Tomato - 1, diced
  • Onion - 1/2, quartered. (large pieces were easy to pick out for those who don't like onions. If you enjoy onions, you can dice rather than quarter it. You could also use more than 1/2..)
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp each of: Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Paprika, Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Preparation

  • Bring Water and Chicken Broth to a boil in a medium - large pot.
  • Add Black Beans and Corn and return to boil.
  • After 5 minutes, remove pot from heat. Move approximately half of the beans and corn to a bowl. Mash (or hand blend) the beans-corn, and return to pot.
  • Bring pot back to a boil.
  • Add remaining ingredients.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve immediately. If desired: top with cheese, tortilla chips, and sour cream.

Yield

  • Makes 8 servings (approx. 1 cup each)
  • 150 Calories per serving (without toppings)

Truth be Told

  • Image credit - I got caught up in the moment and forgot to take a picture. I found the image above, which looks fairly similar, on flickr.
  • Leftovers - the soup tasted great the next day, too, but it was different. The flavors had blended together, and the cayenne pepper had a chance to permeate throughout the dish, making it much spicier the second day.
  • Chicken added - I also added some leftover grilled chicken (cut into chunks) to it the next day, which tasted even awesomer.


That's it - I hope you enjoy it. Give me your take in the comments and let me know what you think..

-Chris Butterworth

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making your own trail mix

making your own trail mix


make your own trail mix


I'm big on trail mix as a healthy snack. In fact, it's become my go-to snack over the years, as it hits on just about every point:

  • Portion Control - eat as much as you need, depending on your needs and how many calories you can afford that day.
  • Portability - no cooking, no cutting, no silverware, no refrigeration.. Just put some in a baggie or tupperware container and you're good to go.
  • Yummy - enough said!
  • Customizable - you select the nuts and the fruit, so you can vary the flavors each time you make it.
  • Calorie Dense - at approximately 150 calories per 1/4 cup (depending on your specific mix), a little goes a long way. Eat just a little bit to take the edge off your hunger and give you an energy boost, then wait awhile before digging back in. If you wait, you probably won't need to dig back in.
  • Nutrition Dense - you'll get a good blend of carbs, protein, and fat, which will give your body fuel to burn for the next couple hours. Plus you'll get the benefit of those unsaturated fatty acids (nuts) and antioxidants (fruit), which I've heard are good for you..
  • Inexpensive - if you break it down to a calories per dollar calculation, you'll have a hard time finding less expensive snacks with this much to offer. Maybe fresh fruit (no protein or fat, and not as portable and doesn't stay fresh as long) or a can of tuna fish (no carbs, not as sweet, not as portable), but I doubt it. Certainly not protein bars or any other pre-packaged snacks..


How to make your own Trail Mix

I make my own trail mix from the bulk bins at the local health food market. (Sprouts, in my neighborhood.) I go to the builk aisles and choose 6 ingredients - 3 nuts and 3 fruit, and take one gigantic scoopful of each. Actually, I take an over-flowing scoopful of the nuts, and an under-flowing scoopful of the fruit, so my mix is a little more nutty than fruity. You can mix and match any number of flavors - I try to keep a good blend of some that are the least expensive with some that have a great flavor.

Here's an example:

  1. Almonds. Choices include whole, sliced, or diced, and raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, etc. I typically use the sliced almonds, just because it's easier for my kids to chew and it makes the mix more "mixey".
  2. Cashews. Whole or pieces. Salted or unsalted. Raw or honey roasted. Again, lots of choices, and like the almonds I generally use pieces instead of whole nuts.
  3. Peanuts. The least expensive of the nuts, with the most variations in choices. Just take a scoop of whatever looks good.
    1. With all the nuts, I want to make a blend of salted with unsalted, and raw with roasted (or honey roasted.) I'm not afraid of a little salt or honey-sweetened, but I don't want too much of either.
    2. I've also tried Walnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, and Pistachio meats, but I keep coming back to my first three options.
  4. Raisins. The least expensive fruit, so I include it almost every time.
  5. Pineapple. Everyone in my family loves the dried pineapple, so this has become a pretty common ingredient in my trail mix.
  6. Cherries or Cranberries. Depending on which one is on sale (the cherries can be particularly expensive sometimes). This gives our mix a little "pop" of flavor.
    1. I've also used blueberries, bananas, mangos, and papaya.
At home, combine the contents of all six bags into a big container, shake well, and you'll have yourself about 3 pounds of trail mix for about $12 - $15.


Regarding chocolate: My oldest son can't eat milk chocolate due to digestion issues, and I don't care for dark chocolate, so chocolate never makes it into our mix. This is actually the reason I started making my own several years ago. I suppose you could add a scoop of chocolate to your mix if you wanted to sweeten the pot, so to speak.

How about you? Are you a trail mix eater? Have you tried something similar? Let me know in the comments below.

-Chris Butterworth

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slow cooked chicken and black beans

slow cooked chicken and black beans


Have you ever had a meal that was so good you were sad when you were done eating?

We ate chicken with black beans and salsa the other night (slow cooked in a crockpot and shredded), and I ate to excess (and then some.) Then I brought leftovers to work today, and I was literally sad when my bowl was empty.

Photo courtesy of skinnytaste.com - it's not the exact same recipe we used, but it's pretty close (and unfortunately I didn't take a picture of ours before digging in!)

The big key here is portion control.

Doesn't matter why you like this meal so much, or what type of food it is - if you eat until you're absolutely stuffed (like I did the other night), you're taking a big step backwards on your road to healthy and weight loss.

Remember - the road to health and weight loss is filled with lots of little steps forward - mini victories, day after day after day. An overindulgence like this, while not the end of the world, could easily set you back a week or more against your goals.

Set yourself up with a fair portion on your plate or bowl, then eat. NO SECONDS. You can eat more tomorrow, and a couple days after that. You can freeze what's left and have it again in a couple weeks.

But eating it all in one sitting, no matter how tempting that may be, is not the right answer.

Be strong - eat healthy.

-Chris Butterworth

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