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Childhood Obesity Awareness

The article below was written for the 2010 Mrs. Ohio Newsletter.

Healthy Eating "Alternatives"…

Do you really have to give up the foods you love to compete for a pageant? The answer is…not everything! I was determined to find healthier alternatives to the foods I love as I was preparing for Mrs. Ohio and Mrs. America. I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes that are 'healthier options' as to what I would have eaten before this journey! For me, taste is as important as health benefits. My husband is "Mr. Health and Fitness" and prides himself on the fact that he NEVER gets sick because his diet and exercise is so perfect. I chuckle at his confidence, but I have known him for 4 years now, and he has only been sick with a cold once. (It lasted about 2 days). He is the type of person that will blend a protein/fiber shake that tastes like dirt and he could care less because of its health benefit. I am the opposite. I would rather not eat anything (very unhealthy) than have to eat something that tastes awful. So I decided to learn to cook things that added up to a low calorie, low sugar, low carb meal, but high in fiber, protein and vitamins…and tastes GOOD!

Let's start with breakfast. This summer I was in Florida with my directors Krista, Michelle and her husband Dave for the Mrs. America bootcamp preparation. Dave served me the best combination of three foods that I love: waffles, yogurt and blueberries. It has become my breakfast of choice ever since. The awesome thing is that he used 2 frozen flaxseed waffles (high in fiber), greek yogurt on top (high in protein) a handful of blueberries, drizzled with honey. (Honey sweetens the greek yogurt that is somewhat bitter). It was the perfect combination and healthy! I felt like I was not being deprived…I was eating WAFFLES! It was a nice change to my daily bowl of breakfast oatmeal. I also love Bobs Red Mill high fiber, OAT BRAN hot cereal. (1/3 cup cooked has 80 calories, 2g fat, 5 fibers, 0 sugar). It tastes like cream of wheat but healthier. I drizzle it with honey and fresh fruit. I also use whole ground Flaxseed Meal in my cereal and oatmeal.

This summer we planted a big garden, but the only things that grew were the tomatos, peppers and lettuce. (Our first garden, rabbits ate a lot of it!). So, I used what I had and we ate a LOT of Chicken Fajitas . I would use the Ziploc 'Zipn'Steam' bags to cook my boneless/skinless chicken breasts. I would add our favorite vegetables: sautéed peppers, mushrooms, tomatos, lettuce and a little low fat sour cream. I wrapped it in a La Banderita tortilla (low carb/low fat) . One tortilla has 81 calories, 2g fat, 6 fibers, 5 protein, 11 carbs, 0 sugar. Boiled black beans go great with this too! This was a filling lunch that was not over 300 calories. I love quick and easy meals and this one is quick and tastes great as leftovers.

Another favorite and super quick meal is my Salsa Chicken. I would take 4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, put in a glass baking dish, and pour salsa over the top. I like the peach-mango salsa from Sam's Club. (2 tablespoons has 20 calories). Then I would add sliced peppers, and take a (90 calorie) bag of Baked Doritos and crunch them up and sprinkle on top of salsa then sprinkle a little low fat shredded mozzarella cheese on top! Baked Doritos makes a great topping. Bake for 1 hour covered with foil. This meal took about 10 minutes to prepare. The result: Juicy chicken with great flavor that's low fat, high protein.

My husband's favorite dish that I gave a make-over is my Vegetable Lasagna. I used the Ronzoni Healthy Harvest whole grain lasagna noodles, layered with Cleveland's Own, Little Italy Marinara Sauce (4oz has 40 calories, 1.5g fat), add veggies to sauce like diced peppers (green, yellow, red & orange), baby portabella mushrooms sliced, sliced eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. Then layer low fat cottage cheese (Mix 1 egg + 1 egg white and fresh chopped parsley in cottage cheese). Continue layering and sprinkle low fat mozzarella cheese on the very top. When you cut it into 12 squares in a 9X13 baking dish, it equates to approx. 300 calories a serving. It is filling too! (I use one 32oz jar of sauce + 1 cup of water to thin, with one 24oz container of small curd, low fat cottage cheese). I usually double this recipe and share it with family. If you want to add meat, use lean ground turkey.

  

Are you a 'snacker'? I am a BIG one! But I have learned to snack healthy. A small handful of almonds usually curb my growling stomach, and they are good for you. I also use to love eating Bananna's Foster for dessert, but I found a GREAT alternative. Take a ripe banana, peel it and put in Ziploc freezer bag and freeze for a week. When ready to eat, take frozen banana and put in microwave until hot. When it's hot and melty, the juice tastes just like the syrup from bananas foster. It's delicious! I also take an apple (cored) and fill the hole with water and cinnamon, and cook in microwave until soft. Drizzle with honey and it's like cooked cinnamon apple dessert.

After eating the healthier options now for so many months, I grew to love the good, clean feeling I have when I'm finished eating. Now I continue to eat the same recipe's because I LIKE them, not because I have to…and that's a lifestyle change for me. Enjoy!!