Monday, January 30, 2012

Cheap Meal Monday: Lentil Burgers

Lentils are one of my favorite legumes to eat because they are easy to cook and taste great. You can buy lentils in the dry bean or bulk food sections in the grocery store. To cook, boil 1 part lentils, 2 parts water for about half hour or until the water is soaked up into the beans. A cup of cooked lentils has about 230 calories and 18 g of protein and 15 g of fiber. Lentils are also high in important minerals (including iron) and B vitamins.

Since lentils form a pasty substance when mashed up, they make a great base for veggie burgers. This recipe also uses tomato paste as a binding agent and includes vegetables for added taste and nutrition.


1 cup dry lentils
2 cups water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion (any color)
2 carrots
1 clove garlic
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
pinch cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

After rinsing and sorting the lentils, add to water in a medium pot and bring to boil. Simmer for about half hour or until the lentils have soaked up the water. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium pan. Chop up the onion, carrots, and garlic and add to pan. Cook on low heat for a few minutes until the vegetables are soft (onions should be translucent). Also, carrots are easiest to chop in a food processor or by using a grater. Once everything is cooked, add all ingredients to a food processor and process until mixed. You can also add the ingredients to a bowl and mix/smash with your hands (be careful if it is still hot). It is fine if some of the lentils are left whole.

Now that you have the burger mix, you can form it into patties using your hands. This recipe will make about 5-6 patties. You can re-heat the patties using  a frying pan, microwave, or oven. You can also wrap any patties that you don't use and freeze for later. Lentil burgers can be served with or without whole wheat bread. Good sides are steamed broccoli and sweet potato fries. These veggie burgers are cheaper and way tastier than frozen store-bought ones!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sleepy Time! Chamomile Tea and Tart Cherries

I've been having trouble sleeping this week, probably because of stress, so I thought I would share some helpful tips from Must Have Been Something I Ate by Peggy Kotsopoulos. Sleeping is really important because it give your body time to regenerate itself and not getting enough puts extreme stress on your body. Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, concentration, memory, and reaction time. We also produce melatonin while we sleep. Melatonin is an antioxidant that can fight cancer-causing free-radical damage. Also, sleep can help you lose weight because studies have shown that women that sleep fewer than 7 hours are likely to gain more weight.

So how do you get enough sleep when you have a million things going on? No, red wine is not the answer (it might knock you out initially but will keep you up later in the night). The first step is to turn down the lights and relax for at least an hour before bed. Reading a book is better than watching TV because less bright lights are involved. Melatonin production starts when it's dark - not just outside, but in your bedroom too. Second, don't eat before bed because digestion will keep you up. Avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evening because it stays in your system for a long time. Even drinking too much caffeine in the morning can affect sleep at night. Finally, when you go to sleep, make sure that ALL of the lights are out. Even small lights from your TV box or alarm clock can interfere with melatonin production. On the same note, melatonin production decreases with light, so invest in an alarm clock that gradually lights up to wake you up - it's so much nicer than waking up to an annoying beep beep!

There are some natural foods to help you fall and stay asleep. My favorite is chamomile tea. The chrysin in chamomile relieves anxiety and helps you fall asleep, so drink a cup about an hour before bed. 

Tart cherries (like Montmorency and Balaton) are the highest plant-based source of absorbable dietary melatonin. While these won't put you to sleep right away, they will help you stay asleep. Another plus is that tart cherries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce muscle damage, pain, and inflammation. Perfect for recovering from workouts! You can get tart cherries in juice form, as a supplement powder, or just eat them whole. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Recipe: Veggie Bean Soup

There's nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm you up in the winter. I generally eat salads for lunch but like to eat soup for lunch more during the winter. Adding a little spice like cayenne pepper gets your blood flowing and warms you up. Soup can sometimes have a bad reputation because of its high sodium content, but you can avoid this simply by making your own. I encourage you to experiment with making veggie soups, all you need is boiling water and a bunch of chopped vegetables. Carrot and celery add good flavor and beans add protein. This recipe includes broccoli, which aids in keeping a healthy weight, and tomato, which has a lot of antioxidants.

6 cups water
1 can crushed tomatos
3-4 medium carrots
1 red pepper
1 red onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
2-3 bay leaves
1 bunch broccoli
2 medium zucchini squash
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans
3 bay leaves
1tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Add water to a large pot and bring to boil. Meanwhile, chop up all of your vegetables to bite-size pieces. Add the tomatoes, carrots, pepper, onion, garlic, and bay leaves to the water. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Then, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, and bring the water back to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5-10 more minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. You can serve immediately or save some for later. This recipe makes about 5 servings. I like to freeze individual servings and then just heat them up in the microwave for a quick meal.

This meal is super cheap since all you have to buy are vegetables and cans of beans. Since vegetable prices vary, I won't list all of the prices of the ingredients individually, but I spent a total of $10.13 on these ingredients at the grocery store, excluding the spices. That's about $2 per serving! Only some of my ingredients were organic, but this meal would still be cheap if you used all organic ingredients.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Food Connection to Diabetes

Paula Deen, the TV chef known for her fattening southern cooking, announced this week that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago. Here's the video clip from the Today show. Is anyone really surprised?

While type 2 diabetes has a genetic predisposition, being overweight is strongly linked to developing the disease. Rates of diabetes have increased in the past 50 years with increasing obesity rates. On the Today show, Paula Deen seemed to be in denial that her "southern" diet may have been a leading factor in her developing the disease. She said that she's always preached moderation in eating the fattening foods that she cooks. Moderation obviously didn't work for her because she is overweight and now has diabetes.

I think that Paula Deen could really take this opportunity to be a spokesperson for diabetes prevention, instead of for a diabetes drug. She can use her celebrity role and cooking show to come out with healthier southern recipes to encourage those at risk to take steps to prevent developing type 2 diabetes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Workout: Filthy Fifty

I started taking Crossfit classes about 6 months ago and I am definitely in the best shape that I've been in a long time. Plus, I actually have shoulder and arm muscles! Crossfit workouts are known for being constantly varied and very intense, thus also relatively short. Including warm up and instruction, classes are rarely over and hour. The actual workout can be anywhere from a few minutes to half hour. You can go on the website to see if there is a Crossfit affiliate near you.

We did the "Filthy Fifty" workout last week and really liked it because it worked just about every muscle. I modified the workout so that you can do it at your gym or even at home with little equipment. Just use a ledge or chair for the box jumps and water bottles for dumbbells. Click on the links for videos of each move.

Filthy Fifty (modified from Crossfit):
50 box jumps
50 push-ups
50 kettle bell swings (1 pood, or 15-20 lb. dumbbell)
walking lunge, 50 steps
50 sit ups
50 push press (10 lb. dumbbells)
50 back extensions
50 squats
50 burpees

Do 50 of each exercise one after another. Take limited breaks and have water on hand. Time yourself during the workout and use this time as a benchmark to improve on in the future.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cheap Meal Monday: Cajun Shrimp Salad

Shrimp are small but mighty! They have a high nutrient density and plenty of protein in a small serving. Just 4 ounces of shrimp provides 23 grams of protein (almost half of your daily value!) in just 112 calories and less than a gram of fat. They are also a great source of selenium and vitamin B12 (see WHFoods). When served with other nutrient-packed foods like spinach, avocado, and tomatoes, you have yourself a powerful salad! This cajun shrimp salad is one of my favorites for lunch.

This recipe makes 1 serving and can be multiplied to make enough for more. Ingredients needed:

1 tbsp. coconut or olive oil
1 cup thawed small shrimp (pre-cooked)
1 tbsp. cajun seasoning (try Emeril's Bayou Blast)
1 ripe avocado
handful grape tomatoes
2-3 cups of spinach
1/4 lemon wedge or 1 tbsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over low heat in a medium saucepan. Thaw shrimp according to package directions if frozen. Add shrimp and cajun seasoning to saucepan and heat for about 5 minutes (shrimp should already be cooked). Meanwhile, cut open and chop the avocado to bite size pieces. You can also cut the grape tomatoes in half, if desired. Once shrimp are heated, mix together all ingredients in a large bowl and drizzle with lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

I usually buy ingredients for this salad at the beginning of the week and then make it everyday for lunch. The following will give you about four servings:

1 medium package of frozen cooked small shrimp: $5.00
4 avocados: $4.72
1 small carton of grape tomatoes: $2.98
1 medium package of organic baby spinach: $3.38
1 lemon: $0.50

Bringing the total to $16.58 for four days of lunch or $4.14 per serving. (I didn't include the oil and spices because those are cupboard staples and can be reused for other meals). Now that's a cheap nutrient-packed meal!

Welcome to Healthy Fit Goddess!

My New Years resolution this year is to start writing a health and fitness blog so that I can share my experiences with my friends, so here it is! I've always been athletic (mainly a runner) but didn't start paying attention to my nutrition until after graduating from undergrad. Two years ago, I stopped eating meat and dairy and started eating more whole, unprocessed foods. My diet has given me more energy, a stronger immune system, and has helped me in keeping in shape. In this blog, I will share with you all that I've learned (and am still learning) in my effort to have a more healthy lifestyle. I plan to post easy-to-make healthy meal recipes on Mondays and awesome workouts on Wednesdays, with other stuff in between. Please comment or email me at if you have any questions or ideas for topics!