“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”

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Week 2: Still going strong. I adore my trainer and he is still kicking my butt at exactly the level I am capable of keeping up with.  Also, my office roomie joined the gym this week so her and I went for a lunch hour workout on Thursday.  I’m thrilled to have a new workout partner and our lunch hour sessions will be a much-needed mental break during the workday!

My birthday is in two weeks, at which point I will have been working out for exactly one month.  I daydream about celebrating the big 2-8 in a gorgeous party dress and looking like a million bucks.  I’m hoping my body plans on cooperating with me to make this a dream come true.  They say it takes a few weeks before you see any results when you start working out so I’m hoping to see at least a hint of change by then.  So far I can’t see any progress but I can definitely feel it.  I feel amazing! I’m energetic. I’m happy. And every new training session I feel like I am kicking butt just a little harder than the session before.  My trainer has been throwing in some of the exercises that we attempted during my very first session (you know, the one where I almost threw up twice and couldn’t actually finish the whole thing…) and I can actually do them! Whoop, whoop! 🙂

Anyhow, on to my favorite part of all of this: awesome new recipes! Once again, all the glory goes to Cooking Light magazine.  Here are the new meals I made this week:

Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts

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Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (such as porter)
  • 8 (1.1-ounce) slices rye bread
  • 4 (3/4-ounce) slices reduced-fat provolone cheese

Preparation

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Shape beef into 4 (4-inch) patties. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done.
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, salt, pepper, and mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer; cook 30 seconds or until thick. Remove from heat; keep warm.
  3. When patties are done, remove from large skillet. Wipe pan clean; heat over medium-high heat. Coat 1 side of each bread slice with cooking spray. Place 4 bread slices, coated sides down, in pan. Top each with 1 patty, 1 cheese slice, and one-fourth of mushroom mixture. Top with remaining bread slices; coat with cooking spray. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 416
  • Fat: 17.1g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 7.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Carbohydrate: 34.3g
  • Fiber: 4.1g
  • Cholesterol: 42mg
  • Iron: 3.9mg
  • Sodium: 708mg
  • Calcium: 232mg

White Wine-Marinated Steaks

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Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak and 1 tablespoon sauce)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 pound chuck eye steaks, trimmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth

Preparation

  1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a shallow dish. Add steaks, and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Remove steaks from marinade; reserve marinade. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove steaks from pan; keep warm. Add shallot to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add reserved marinade and broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes or until reduced by half. Spoon sauce over steaks.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 227
  • Fat: 14.4g
  • Saturated fat: 4.8g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1g
  • Protein: 21.6g
  • Carbohydrate: 1.4g
  • Fiber: 0.1g
  • Cholesterol: 71mg
  • Iron: 2.6mg
  • Sodium: 273mg
  • Calcium: 10mg

Chicken with Lemon-Leek Linguine

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Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chicken breast half and 1 cup pasta mixture)

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, and thinly sliced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.
  2. Place chicken between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish; dredge chicken in flour, shaking to remove excess.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, leek, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; sauté 4 minutes. Add broth and juice; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add pasta to leek mixture; toss well to combine. Serve chicken over pasta mixture; sprinkle with parsley.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 474
  • Fat: 11.5g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.7g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.9g
  • Protein: 46.8g
  • Carbohydrate: 44g
  • Fiber: 2.3g
  • Cholesterol: 121mg
  • Iron: 3.8mg
  • Sodium: 592mg
  • Calcium: 57mg

Mushroom and Sausage Ragu with Polenta

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Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup polenta and 1 cup ragù)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked polenta
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Preparation

  1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cheese, and butter. Serve with sausage mixture.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 428
  • Fat: 18.7g
  • Saturated fat: 8.4g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 8.5g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4g
  • Protein: 18.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 46g
  • Fiber: 4.6g
  • Cholesterol: 53mg
  • Iron: 3.3mg
  • Sodium: 821mg
  • Calcium: 74mg

Eggplant Bolognese

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Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup sauce, about 3/4 cup pasta, and 2 teaspoons basil)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground sirloin
  • 8 cups chopped eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 10 ounce uncooked whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves

Preparation

  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and beef; cook 10 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef. Add eggplant, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 20 minutes or until eggplant is very tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes as necessary. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and red wine vinegar.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 tablespoon kosher salt to cooking water. Drain. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with basil leaves.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 323
  • Fat: 7.3g
  • Saturated fat: 1.5g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 4.1g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.1g
  • Protein: 17.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 53.1g
  • Fiber: 12.3g
  • Cholesterol: 20mg
  • Iron: 3.9mg
  • Sodium: 553mg
  • Calcium: 92mg

The only variation that I make from these recipes is that I don’t skimp on the salt.  I know that different people have different feelings about salt so this may or may not be something you are comfortable with.  All I know is that one of the biggest lessons I learned in culinary school is that salt is magic.  Not only does it add flavor to your food but it opens your tastebuds.  Things just taste better with the proper amount of salt. I don’t have high blood pressure or any other health issues that would warrant me having to avoid it so while I can, I’m going to season my food with it.  I’m open to any suggestions you might have about alternative seasonings but I can’t tell you how many meals have gone from good to GREAT just by adding another pinch or two of salt to the pot.  SO – that is the only deviation I have made from these recipes.  Try it or don’t.  It’s up to you!

And there you have it.  That’s all, folks. 🙂

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