Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Green Chile Burgers

Green Chile Burgers

Green Chile Burgers
Serves 4


1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chili power
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely mined onion (I used red onion)
2 tablespoons diced green chiles from a can (drained well in a fine mesh sieve)


Mist a large skillet (or grill pan) with cooking spray and preheat over medium high heat.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix gently with hands to distribute the ingredients and shape into 4 equal patties, less than 1/2 inch think.  Add patties to preheated skillet (or grill pan), reduce heat to medium, and cook until bottoms are deep golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip and cook until patties are firm to the touch and cooked through (no pink remains), about 4 to 5 minutes more. I like my beef patties prepared medium well; of course, feel free to prepare your Green Chile Burgers to your desired doneness (rare, medium, well done, etc.)

I did not intend to go on a burger frenzy, but it seems as if I have.  I've been wanting to make turkey burgers with different flavor profiles, but the other day I found that I needed to use up some ground beef.  I had let it thaw in the refrigerator and never made what I had intended to make.  I also had some green chiles (from a can) in the freezer (leftover from another recipe), so I decided to make up some Green Chile Burgers; I added in my favorite Mexican or Southwestern spices.

Zach came home while I was making these burgers.  He was starving after playing tennis all day long.  He had a Green Chile Burger on a bun and said it was really flavorful.  Zach topped his burger with grated sharp cheddar cheese.  He went on to say I should make these again.  So there you go!

Above you can see my burger; I had it with a salad of baby arugula and diced tomatoes (dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar).  I added a dollop of plain lowfat yogurt to my burger (kind of like having sour cream on a taco).  Speaking of which... these Green Chile Burgers taste a lot like tacos, as the seasonings in these burgers are some of the seasonings you'd find in packaged taco seasoning. 

Helpful Hint:  If you ever have left over diced green chiles from a can, don't let them go to waste.  Just place them in a plastic baggie and place them in the freezer for use in a future recipe.

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
Adapted from a recipe on www.bettercrocker.com


1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 1/3 all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons poppy seed
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350°F. Line 10 medium muffin cups with paper baking cups (or spray cups with cooking spray or grease with shortening).

In large bowl, stir together the sugar, oil, egg, and almond extract. Beat in sour cream and milk until blended.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and poppy seed; stir until well blended.  Add dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients; gently stir just until all dry ingredients are moistened.  Lumps are okay; do NOT overmix.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle batter with the almonds.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (my muffins were lightly browned at 19 minutes). Remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm or cool.

I mentioned awhile back that I found store bought muffins (gasp!) at home when I came back from my Alaskan cruise.  Since Zach has been wanting to learn to cook this summer, I told him we could make muffins at home so he could learn about baking.  He's been so busy this summer that I offered to just make the muffins for him, but he said he'd like to make them with me.  That sure warmed my heart!  We made these muffins the other day and they turned out great.  Since the muffins have such a nice, moist texture, we talked about how one could use a muffin recipe like this and convert it to make other varieties (ie. blueberry, chocolate chip, and so on...)

This recipe is DEFINITELY a KEEPER!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Smoky Turkey Burgers (21 Day Fix Friendly)

Smoky Turkey Burgers
Yes, there IS a burger under there.  It's smothered in mustard and red onion and is sitting on top of a bed of baby arugula. This was today's lunch. Good stuff!

Oh, yum!  These are good and VERY easy to make. 

I used to subscribe to this magazine years ago. I saved all the issues I received and have been going through them recently for some healthy recipe inspiration. 

I considered making these pork burgers but found Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey on sale for $2.99 per pound at my local Kroger Grocery Store.  I stocked up and made these burgers when I got home from the store. 

Smoky Turkey Burgers
Adapted from "Clean Eating" Magazine
July/August 2010 Issue


1 pound lean ground turkey (93% lean)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Mist a large skillet (or grill pan) with cooking spray and preheat over medium high heat.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Mix gently with hands to distribute the spices and shape into 4 equal patties, less than 1/2 inch think.  Add patties to preheated skillet (or grill pan), reduce heat to medium, and cook until bottoms are deep golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.  Flip and cook until patties are firm to the touch and cooked through (no pink remains), about 4 to 5 minutes more. Internal temperature should be 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

These burgers are GREAT with mustard and raw onion. Today, I could not decide between Spicy Brown Mustard and Dijon Mustard, so I did a little taste test.  Both were very good with this burger!  In the end, my final vote was for the Dijon Mustard, but you can't go wrong with either kind of mustard.

I am making these burgers ahead and keeping them in the refrigerator until I am ready to eat them later in the week.  I find that the burgers are great reheated in the microwave oven (100 percent power) for 45 seconds.  Yesterday, I made these burgers and also made up some Sweet Potato Hash.  You can find the hash recipe HERE.  The Smoky Burgers and the Sweet Potato Hash go well together.

Strawberry Overnight Oats (21 Day Fix)

Strawberry Overnight Oats

I used to make overnight oats years ago and I got out of the habit.  I made it so frequently, I even had the proportions written on a sticky "Post It Note" inside one of my kitchen cabinets.  In keeping with my new and improved "21 Day Fix" healthy eating plan, I tweaked the recipe a bit today so that the portions fit in with the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan.  

The information in the ( ) are for folks following the 21 Day Fix Eating Plan but I've included standard measurements so anyone can enjoy this recipe.  Of course, you can switch up the fruit in this recipe, but tomorrow morning... I am enjoying Strawberry Overnight Oats!

Strawberry Overnight Oats
Serves 2

1/2 cup rolled oats (1 yellow container, but counts as 2 yellow containers since the oats are uncooked)
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
2/3 cup plain low fat yogurt (1 red container)
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons chia seeds (1 orange container)
2 to 2 1/2 cups of sliced/diced strawberries (2 purple containers)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl; stir well. Spoon into pretty glasses or plastic storage containers. Refrigerate overnight. Serve cold. 

21 Day Fix portions:
1 yellow (carbohydrate)
1/2 red (protein)
1/2 orange (seeds/nuts)
1 purple (fruits and berries)

My glasses don't have lids, so I cover the glasses with a little plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. I know... So fancy, right!?!?

Notes from this morning:  I had this for breakfast this morning. In the first trial run of this recipe, I used only 1/2 the amount of strawberries. I was tempted to add a little more honey to my cup, but I refrained. So when I made this recipe again today, I doubled the amount of strawberries to make it a bit sweeter. The recipe above reflects this change. 
This recipe would be great with a combination of blueberries and strawberries, but strawberries were on sale this week. Feel free to use what fruits you like, and of course, add more honey if your heart desires!  Enjoy!!!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Watermelon, Arugula, and Feta Salad

Watermelon, Arugula, and Feta Salad
This is definitely another great recipe to help you beat the heat!  It's very HOT here in Southern Colorado.  Most days are in the high 90's.  We hope for afternoon thundershowers to cool things off a bit.

This salad could not be more simple!  A few handfuls of pre-washed baby arugula, a few sliced red onions, a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.  Add a few pinches of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper, too.

Top it with about a cup of cubed watermelon and about 1 heaping tablespoon of crumbled feta cheese.

I did not measure any of my ingredients except for the vinegar and oil.  This was a delicious lunch.  I planned to have this salad with a Smoky Turkey Burger, but the salad filled me up.  More about those Smoky Turkey Burgers VERY SOON. 

I wish I could take credit for the salad recipe above. I found this recipe on the blog called Skinnytaste.  Here is the recipe link.  If you've been following along, you know I've been on a healthy eating and exercise plan called "21 Day Fix".  As always, find a lot of recipe inspiration all over the internet and I am finally getting the confidence to try to adapt the recipes so they fit in with the 21 Day Fix eating plan.  I am having a LOT of fun creating new recipes and am so glad to be sharing them here. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Enjoyable Things About Going on a Cruise

A towel elephant... wearing Marilyn's glasses.

Clearly there a lot of enjoyable things about going on a cruise.  Marilyn and I really got a kick out of finding different towel animals in our room each night.  The towel animals were accompanied by chocolates for a bedtime snack.  Our cabin steward, Milos (from Serbia) enjoyed finding Marilyn's reading glasses in our room and our animals were usually bespectacled.   

A monkey.

A dinosaur (there's a funny story about this animal).

A bunny (with chocolates!)

Hmmmm, now that I look at this towel creature, I am not so sure WHAT it is?

Clearly... this one is a snake!

And this appears to be a penguin.

Now, here's the funny story about the dinosaur towel animal.  On our last night of the cruise, we were in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  We had only a few hours in Victoria, so Marilyn and I opted to stay on the ship, have a nice leisurely dinner in a restaurant we had not yet tried, and I went to the gym. We also enjoyed strolling around the ship and taking in the scenery.  We went back to our room and we noticed that, on this - our final night of the cruise - we did NOT have a new towel animal in our room!  Maybe that's just how things go on cruises; no towel animals on the final night.  I whipped open the cabin door and peered down the hall, and found our cabin steward, Milos.  I sort of pouted and said, "Hey, where's my towel animal?" 

Marilyn and I left our room again that evening. Sure enough, when we came back, there was a towel animal (a dinosaur) in our room.  Milos never let us down!

Friday, July 22, 2016

21 Day Fix: Update

Update: June 22, 2016

Note the dates: I've been working on this post for a few weeks.

Here's a 21 Day Fix update!

Over Memorial Day, my friend Marilyn and I decided to book a last minute cruise to Alaska.  We will be departing in just a few days.  One of the first thoughts I had when thinking about the cruise was a concern that I wouldn't know what to wear because I've put on a few pounds. 

I hate to call my experience "yo yo dieting", but it's probably the best description for me.  I first identified myself as being overweight when I was about seven or eight years old.  I was just a heavy kid until I graduated high school (I weighed about 155 pounds during all of high school). Like a lot of kids, I gained a lot of weight my first year in college. I did not live on campus, but I remember stopping and getting chocolate milk shakes several times a week when I drove to college in the morning. By the end of my first year of college, I weighed over 180 pounds.  That summer, something clicked and I went on a really strict diet and I began exercising.  By the time I started my second year of college, and moved into the dorm, I had lost so much weight, people did not even recognize me.  My lowest weight during my second year of college was 114 pounds and I was horribly thin, very unhealthy, and really obsessed with maintaining that weight.  Back at home during the summer between my second and third year of college, I gained it all back and then some.  My weight loss was such a huge part of my identity back at school, that I couldn't bear go back after gaining so much weight back. I ended up switching colleges, a decision that was also based upon the fact that I still had not declared a major and it really did not make a difference where I went to school. 

I made it through college and got a degree in four years time despite switching schools and switching majors.  I graduated in June 1990, and started my career on July 1, 1990.  I had to have a Physical Exam for the job I got.  When they weighed me, I refused to look at the scale.  Several months later, I was reassigned to work in the Personnel Department. I snuck a peek at my Physical to see how much I weighed at the time of my employment interview; 173 pounds.

I got married, had kids, and my pattern has been... hit 160 pounds, get upset with myself, get serious, get down to about 145 pounds.  Up and down, up and down, up and down.  I felt so great at 145 pounds; healthy, trim, and grateful to have my clothes fitting comfortably. 

But slowly, the weight would creep back up and I would start the cycle over.  For years I told myself, "when I retire I'll have the time to get into better shape... I'll do it then!"

I retired October 31, 2015, and over Memorial Day Weekend I found I'd actually gained a few pounds since retiring.  Once again I was 160 plus pounds.  I was not getting it done on my own and I realized I needed to get serious... AGAIN! 

Sometime in May this year, I bumped into a gal I had met a few times at work before I retired.  Angela is a very professional gal, a bundle of energy, positive and upbeat, someone you instantly like when you meet her.  We "friended" each other on Facebook and I quickly saw she was a Coach for the Beachbody Program and encouraging others to live a healthy lifestyle through regular, vigorous exercise and healthy eating.  Her enthusiasm was infectious.  I decided to purchase the Beachbody Program called "21 Day Fix".  I started the exercise plan and the eating plan on June 6, 2016, when my weight was about 158 or 159 pounds, and by June 22, 2016, I was down to 151 pounds as you can see above.


July 5, 2016

I am back from my cruise. I tried to eat healthy on the cruise and I went to the gym on the ship a few times. I am not feeling as fit as I felt when I departed on the cruise.  I missed the 21 Day Fix exercise videos. I know the exercise is good for me.  I was hesitant to step on the scale upon my return, but it turns out I lost a pound or two while on the cruise. How about that!

July 16, 2016

Check it out!  I feel like I have a new wardrobe.  All the clothes in my closet fit and that's a very good feeling.  I love that my upper body strength and my core strength is increasing. The work outs are not getting easier per se, but I am improving how well I am doing the workouts. There was one work out in particular called "Dirty Thirty"; I remember how deflated I felt the very first time I did that work out. I was so horrible in my attempts to do the exercises that I felt I did not get a good work out at all. Now I've done this one particular work out maybe five times and I am doing the exercises more and more effectively. It's fun to see improvements in my fitness, on the scale, and how my clothes fit. 

July 19, 2016

Okay, so this being on the 21 Day Fix Program has gotten on my nerves this week!  The cartoon above really sums it up for me.  I had one day where I was just wanting to eat carbs and I kept thinking about this container of peanut butter filled pretzels in the cupboard.  We started buying them a few months ago at Sam's Club, so you know the container is big!  Zach likes them so I did not throw them out when I started the 21 Day Fix Program, but those pretzels... they've been calling my name.  I was just feeling hungry. So I had a handful of them, and then another handful of them, and then a small bowlful of them.  Craving satisfied.  I am over it now.

I told my Coach that I was thinking of STOPPING trying to LOSE weight and just STARTING to MAINTAIN the weight loss I've had.  To maintain your weight on the 21 Day Fix Program, you re-calculate what your caloric intake should be in order MAINTAIN your weight, as opposed to what your caloric intake needs to be to LOSE weight.  In a nutshell, when you get to your goal weight, you add in portions of food. For me, I would be able to eat another portion of carbs, fruits, and veggies. The day after I talked to my Coach, I was over feeling deprived and it made me feel good to know I was in the "driver's seat" and I could chose how I wanted to proceed.  I decided to keep with the plan I am on until this 21 Day cycle is complete. The scale is NOT BUDGING one bit. I've been hovering right around 145 pounds, so I am saying I've lost right around 15 pounds.  But I have to remind myself to not always focus on the number on the scale. Old habits die hard!  I have gained so much more.  I have a closet full of clothes that fit nicely and I feel good in them.  I know my fitness level is increasing each day and it feels good to see my improvement when I do my workouts.  You CAN accomplish a lot just exercising 30 minutes a day... and who doesn't have time for 30 minutes a day!?! 

July 22, 2016

Well, that scale... she's just not BUDGING. I was right around 160 pounds when I started this program on June 6, 2016.  I am really happy with my weight and fitness level now and I plan to finish up my 21 Day Cycle. Today is Day 18 of 21, so just a few more days to go.  I have not missed a work out since July 5, 2016, when I returned from vacation.   When I finish up this cycle, I plan to post my before and after photos, so stay tuned for that!  I am looking forward to seeing those photos myself.  Why, I might even go shopping for a tank top to show off my strong arms!  Ha, ha!  I have to constantly remind myself to not focus on the scale; I need to focus more on the great things I am doing for my health.  I am eating healthy and clean, I am eating more fruits and vegetables than ever, and I am exercising more vigorously each and every day.  I bet my blood pressure and cholesterol levels have improved.  I know I am getting a stronger core, which I am sure is good for my back; I know my flexibility has been increasing, too.  It's all GOOD!

Here are a few tidbits:  
  • Today is my 30 year High School reunion (nope, not going).  I weigh at least 10 pounds less than I did in High School.
  • Today the weight listed on my Driver's License is actually accurate! 
  • Today I weigh 30 pounds less than I did when I started my career in July 1990.
  • Today I weight 40 pounds less than I did when I finished my first year of college in June 1987.
  • Today my GOAL is to maintain this healthy weight by my 50th birthday (September 2018).  Hopefully this blog will still be going strong and I'll post about it then.
So that's my 21 Day Fix Program update. This has been a long post, so if you've read through all of this, thanks for sharing in my journey over the past several weeks.  My aim is to continue to share about my experiences and to continue to post about the NEW recipes I make to help keep me on track.