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BBQ Chicken Spaghetti Squash Skillet

Low carb and bbq? Yes, please. I also love the versatility of spaghetti squash. If you haven't worked with spaghetti squash before, see my post about cooking it. There are many ways, but this is my favorite.

It might not be much to look at, but this was one of the most flavorful dishes I've made in a while. We both agreed that this absolutely must be made again in the very near future. The portions are big enough for a growing boy, wait I mean man. We devoured it in a matter of minutes after it cooled enough to eat.

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2.5CupsRoasted spaghetti squash (about 1/2 a medium sized squash)

  • 2CupsShredded chicken breastabout 1 medium sized breast

  • 1/2Red onionthinly diced

  • 1/4CupGreen oniondiced

  • 1/4CupCilantrodiced

  • 1/2tspSalt

  • 1/8tspPepper

  • 1/4tspChili powder

  • 1/4tspCumin powder

  • 1/4tspGarlic Powder

  • 1/4tspPaprika

  • 1/4-1/2tspRed pepper flakes,use 1/4 if you like some heat

  • 3/4CupGrated Reduced fat cheddar cheese,divided

  • 1/2CupBBQ sauce of choice (We like Sweet Baby Ray's)

  • 6TbspFat free plain greek yogurt

  • 2Tbsppanko

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Gather ingredients and cooked squash. (See my post for more info on cooking spaghetti squash.)

  3. Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil and boil your chicken until cooked through (20-25 mins.) Let cool.

  4. While your chicken and squash are cooking, dice the red onion and throw it into a grill pan on High heat, until it is has nice grill marks. (about 5 mins.) Set aside.

  5. Dice the green onion and cilantro and grate the cheddar cheese (If not purchased shredded) and set everything aside.

  6. Spray a casserole dish or cast-iron skillet with cooking spray.

  7. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into small pieces and throw into a large bowl.

  8. Add in the spaghetti squash, grilled red onion, green onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, chile powder, cumin, garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese, reserving the rest for later

  9. In a medium sized bowl, combine the BBQ sauce and Greek yogurt

  10. Pour the yogurt mixture over the squash mixture and mix until well combined.

  11. Pour into the casserole dish and top with panko and remaining cheddar cheese.

  12. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Then turn your oven to HIGH broil and broil for around 5 minutes, until the topping is brown and bubbly.

  13. Devour!

My end result:

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Microwave Bacon

My mom, who majored in home economics in college, taught me how to cook just about anything in a microwave. Yes, I've read some of the articles about it's danger and have decided that while it might cause harm, that the amount I've used it thus far in my life has probably done irreversible damage at this point.

I've taught several of my friends how to cook bacon this way and they've always sang the praises, especially when it comes to clean up. If you've done it right, it will be just the way you like it and you won't have the burn marks on your hands from popping grease! Win!

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Items Needed

  • Appropriate servings of Bacon for your bunch (2 slices of center cut per person is what I prefer) 
  • White paper towels (The ink on the printed ones scares me to cook with)
  • Microwave bacon tray or large plate

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My bacon tray, it's well loved in my house.

Directions

  1. Put 1 layer of paper towels on your bacon tray or plate. If using a plate, make sure it will fit in your microwave first. 
  2. Lay up to 4 slices of bacon on towel. This is the perfect amount for the towel, anymore and the grease can't be absorbed as well and you risk it being left behind in the microwave. If bacon hangs over the sides of the tray or plate a little bit, that's ok!
  3. Put another layer of paper towel on top. If cooking more, you can add your next layer of bacon. Make sure your top layer is always a paper towel. I recommend only cooking 8 slices at a time. I've done 12, it was a mess and it wasn't evenly cooked.
  4. On full power, cook bacon for 1 min per slice. My microwave is 900watts so this is perfect. If yours is higher wattage, subtract a minute from the total time and then check for doneness. Add time if needed.  (If cooking 8 slices in a 1100 watt oven, cook for 7 minutes to start.)
  5. If eating immediately, take tray out and let sit for a minute before you serve. This will allow for the bacon to crisp and cool a bit to handle. When I use bacon for salad, I take it out of the oven and allow to cool completely before bagging it up for storage. 

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Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

Much more time efficient than most chicken noodle recipes and tasty to boot.

Serves 4 (11/4cups each)  Prep time: 15 mins      Cooking time: 20 mins

Ingredients 2 tsp. Olive Oil 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 cups slices celery (about 4 medium stalks) 4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth 3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast, skinless 1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (about 3 medium) 1 tsp. dried oregano 1/2 tsp. sea salt 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper 1 1/4 cups dry whole wheat pasta 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions 1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. 2. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. 3. Add broth, chicken, carrots, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add pasta, reduce heat to low; gently boil for 10 minutes. 4. Add cilantro before serving.

Nutritional Info (per serving) Calories: 357 Total Fat: 8 grams Saturated Fat: 2 grams Cholesterol: 96 grams Sodium: 518 mg Carbohydrates: 26 grams Fiber: 5 grams Sugars: 5 grams Protein: 44 grams

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Fueling Your Body Like an Athlete

It's true what they say, you have to fuel your body correctly to achieve the outcome you expect. The right foods increase your energy, promote muscle growth and aid in muscle repair. The wrong ones set you back.While foods are packaged and marketed as healthy, did you know that there are some foods an athlete wouldn't even consider as part of their daily nutrition? Read on.1. Diet Soda

  •  Athletes see each meal as an opportunity to refuel—How much protein can I fit into this meal? How can I add more good fats? —because it’s what drives their performance. Nutritionally void foods like artificial sweeteners have no place in their diet. Not only do they offer no health benefits, but consuming artificially sweetened foods like a can of diet soda per day could significantly increase your risk for health problems and weight gain, says a study out of Purdue University. Artificial sweeteners trick the body into thinking it’s consuming real food, and because they’re over a hundred times sweeter than the real thing, your body starts producing insulin (the fat storage hormone). You’re better off consuming the real stuff in moderation.
2. Canned Soup
  • Canned soups might be convenient, but most of the time they’re no healthier for you than other highly processed snacks—their long shelf life should tip you off. “Some soups are so processed and high in sodium that it trumps over the health benefits. I would opt for low-sodium or homemade instead,” says Jim White, RD. The body needs sodium to function properly, but too much can lead to high blood pressure.
3. Rice Cakes
  • Rice cakes have long held a “healthy” reputation, but the staple diet snack is practically empty—nutritionally speaking. Yes, they do boast a low calorie count, but athletes need calories to keep up their energy levels. Not to mention these crunchy little snacks will send your blood sugar soaring. Rice cakes can have a glycemic index as high as 91, not far off from pure glucose, which has an index of 100. For better carbs, grab an English muffin or some fruit instead, suggests White.
4. Sugary Cereal
  • Artificial sugar is a definite no, but chowing down on too much of the real thing is just as bad. While active guys can afford to take in more calories than the average man, it doesn’t mean they’re scarfing down sugary foods on the daily. No athlete gets to the top of his game, and stays there, by starting his day off with a big bowl of oat cereal and marshmallows. Too much sugar also causes a spike in insulin, priming your body to store more fat.
5. White Bread
  • Says White, “White pastas, rice and breads are OK, [but not ideal] because they are stripped of their nutrients and fiber.” Refined white flour is made from stripping the fiber, wheat germ and essential B vitamins from the wheat kernel—what’s left is a highly processed food product, and when consumed, raises insulin levels and contributes to dips in energy and weight gain. Stick to whole-grain products; those made of white flour are not going to give you lasting energy.
6. Microwave Popcorn
  • Whether from the concession stand or popped in the microwave, this movie staple has got no place in a fit man's diet. Saturated with unhealthy fats, unearthly levels of sodium, and in some cases, laced with chemicals, popcorn does not fuel an athlete's body for a strenuous training session, nor does it encourage recovery after a long workout. Microwave popcorn bags are also lined with something called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical which is also found in Teflon pots and pans—yikes. There is a flip side, however. If you air pop the corn or pop it on the stove with a small amount of coconut oil, it turns into somewhat of a superfood, boasting high levels of antioxidants and a hearty dose of satiating fiber.
7. Granola
  • Before you roll your eyes, listen up. Granola might seem healthy, with fibrous oats as the base, but it’s not exactly all it’s cracked up to be. Most versions of the cereal come stacked with high amounts of sugar, unnecessary fat, and an excess amount of calories. Does anyone ever stop at the ¼ cup serving? While highly active guys need the calories and fiber, the downsides of granola outweigh the benefits. A bowl of oats with a giant scoop of nut butter is a much better alternative.
8. Alcohol
  • Maintaining a superior level of fitness comes down to consuming everything in moderation—especially alcohol. What serious athlete do you know shotguns beers or throws back shots on a regular basis? Alcohol inhibits your physical fitness in a number of ways. Too much booze slows muscle recovery, impairs motor skills, and decreases strength and sprint performance. It’s also a diuretic, so it dehydrates you. Research published in ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal also found alcohol depresses the immune system and slows the body’s ability to heal, which could increase your risk of illness and injury.
9. A Meal Without Protein
  • An athlete needs his protein. “Protein is important for repairing and strengthening muscle tissue. I would advise to add protein to every meal to maintain adequacy, balance, and variety, while also helping lower blood sugar levels and increasing satiety,” says White. Oatmeal may be the breakfast of champions—but not without a side of egg whites or a big scoop of nut butter. 
Do you see a trend? Low sugar (real or artificial), high protein and some healthy whole grain carbs. Do you know the right mix? Have you ever struggled with portions? I've got some options to help you on your way to fueling your body like an athlete and helping it look like one too. Use the contact form to set up a time to talk to shoot me an email to see which option might be best for you!

To your health,

Sarah

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