Friday, December 30, 2011

My TOP 5 posts of 2011




Happy New Year! 
I compiled my TOP 5 posts of this year as we skip in to 2012. Have a safe and happy LONG weekend!
Need some extra motivation as we jump in to 2012? Read my post on motivation and goal-setting.


Salt seems to be a debatable topic these days. Conflicting studies are out regarding moderate salt intake versus low salt intake. However, the moderate salt intake studies do not provide sufficient evidence or taken on a large enough study group to prove it is beneficial. From previous experience, a low sodium diet is what works well for me. Read this blog on the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of sodium and what measures to take in case you have consumed a high-sodium meal.
This recipe was a HUGE hit on Christmas Day! No, it’s not healthy but splurging once in a while is okay. Live on the edge a bit. It’s okay, I promise!
The health of our brain is often left out of the equation of living a healthy and active lifestyle. Keep the brain challenged and fully functioning with various activities. Learn about the brain and Dr. Amen’s research in this short post.
Last but not least, the posting of my Carissolutions for 2012. I have felt 2011 was an amazing year, and life keeps getting better. I pray constantly for guidance of God’s Will and this burning passion in my heart is on FIIIIIIIIIIIIRE! It’s all God, for God, and was given to me by God. Posting and making public your goals allows others to hold you accountable.

Have a safe and happy weekend! Happy Holidays my friends and family!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Closing the Chapter of 2011 and Opening 2012

What are your thoughts on 2011? Did you accomplish all you wanted? How will 2012 be different? Is it just another day for you?
As I look back on 2011, I am truly grateful for all God has blessed me with. The new relationships, my new nephew, a new city, a new home, a new job, new church, and I could go on for days and days. Being in San Diego is such a blessing. One year at my current “job”, and I have loved every minute of it. I am excited for upcoming challenges and the unknown that presents itself on God's watch.
I do not believe in New Year’s Resolutions, as they are broken anyways. Instead, I opt for solutions to various challenges that I set for myself.  With that said, I have solutions for myself, but I also have a goal of helping other’s attain their goals. I have a few specific ones that I am working on…
Below is a pictorial of this past weekend. So thankful for my amazing family and friends (and the AMAZING fudge).
Here is to wishing lots of happiness and blessings for this next chapter to you as well!
With love,


Monday, December 19, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookie Recipe


Ingredients:

18 ounces fresh or frozen then thawed strawberries
1 small lemon
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Splenda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream
Pam

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons Splenda. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and remaining 7 tablespoons Splenda in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
Using a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets sprayed with Pam, spacing evenly apart. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool. Cookies are best served immediately, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.
I have frozen my cookies and will serve on Christmas Day. Hopefully freezing will break the “eat in one day” rule!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Flourless Pumpkin and Apple Spice Cookie Recipes


Flourless Pumpkin Cookies
(inspired by Chocolate-Covered Katie)
Ingredients:
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 T brown sugar (don’t sub!)
1 T plus 2 tsp Splenda
2 T pureed pumpkin
1 T oil or pre-melted margarine/Smart Balance
1-2 T Silk Almond Milk

Instructions:
Blend first 5 ingredients together. I used the Magic Bullet. Mix with other ingredients, form into cookie shapes, and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook 6 minutes at 375 F.
I doubled the batch above – making 12 cookies.

Each cookie yields:
Calories: 75
Carbohydrates: 12g
Fat: 3g
Protein: 1g



Spiced Apple Cookies
Ingredients:
½ c. of Crisco trans-fat free shortening
1 1/3 c. brown sugar
1 egg
¼ c. skim milk
2 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. unpeeled, finely chopped apple
Pam

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat together shortening and brown sugar. Add egg and milk and mix ingredients well. In a separate bowl combine flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spice. With the mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients, scraping down the sides as necessary, until everything is fully combined. Stir chopped apple and walnuts into the batter with a wooden spoon. Drop cookies by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2-inches apart on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Press the tops of the cookie down with a fork so they are slightly flattened. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cookies hold their shape and are slightly browned on the edges.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Love, Friends, Fitness, and Music

This weekend, Palani and I fly to Vegas to be with friends and take part in the Les Mills Quarterly. Thank you, Stephanie and Kandace, for being amazing hosts and allowing us to stay in their beautiful home. Two of our closest friends! Les Mills is taking over group fitness worldwide. This fitness empire is something to be a part of. It’s a tribe of warriors out to change the world. In fact, the new core values of Les Mills International are: ONE TRIBE, BE BRAVE, and CHANGE THE WORLD. It cannot get much better than that! I feel so blessed to be a part of something bigger than me. I definitely got emotional a few times on Saturday being with such amazing people and experiencing the world class presentations.

After the Quarterly, we met up with our friends for sushi dinner. I love my friends beyond words. They inspire me every day and are positive go-getter's! If anyone wants to find out who we are on the inside, take a look at our friends. Like-minded individuals with a passion to help others and themselves live a better life! What a blessing to call them friends. <3

In case you have been living under a rock for quite some time, my brother-in-law, Coffey, just released his newest cd – Worship Unplugged 3. As a former musician, I can really appreciate the time, effort and knowledge put in to musical pieces. Coffey is always a hard worker and goes above and beyond in his life to spread God’s glory through music, but he REALLY stepped it up on this one. The progressions and musical talent shines bright on this album. I feel a musician has peaked and reached a new level when they can produce an amazing upbeat track but can reach the other end of the spectrum and produce a ballad that is clear, crisp and IN KEY. Coffey does just that – while crossing genres in to Pop as well. Simply BRILLIANT!

Expect some recipe blogs this week – Healthy Sugar Cookies and Inside Out Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies. Feel free to share my blog and spread to love, health and wellness!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Carisse's INEXPENSIVE Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:
  • 16 oz. Hershey’s mildly sweet chocolate
  • 16 oz. Ghirardelli white chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 4 to 5 regular-size candy canes, crushed
  • Pam/non-stick cooking spray

Instructions:
  1. Line a baking sheet (with raised edges) with foil, and spray with Pam.
  2. Melt dark chocolate in microwave (30 second intervals on high, stirring in between). I ended up doing 4 intervals.
  3. Spread evenly in pan.  Refrigerate until solid. 
  4. Melt white chocolate using the same method adding the the peppermint extract.
  5. Spread white chocolate mixture over dark chocolate layer (it is best to let the white chocolate cool a bit, so it doesn’t melt the dark chocolate and swirl layers together).
  6. Sprinkle crushed candy cane pieces on top, and refrigerate (or freeze) until solid. 
  7. Remove from cookie sheet, peel off foil layer, and chop into pieces.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Recipes, Recipes, and More Recipes (and some progress pictures!)

Vegetable Quiche with Home Made Crust
Crust Recipe (You could replace with pastry crust.)
Ingredients:
5 c. sifted flour
4 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 c. shortening
2 egg yolks

Quiche Recipe
Ingredients:
Fresh vegetables of your choice (I used squash, broccoli, carrots, eggplant, peppers, beans, and asparagus)
6 eggs
Ketchup
Pam
2-quart casserole dish

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Steam vegetables on low stirring occasionally. In small chunks, lay dough with pressing motion to coat the casserole dish to desired thickness. The dough with slightly thicken while being cooked.

Lightly coat with ketchup. Whip 6 eggs in small bowl (can also use just egg whites, or a combination). Place steamed vegetables in baking dish. Pour eggs over vegetables evenly.
Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Reduce heat to 325 and bake until crust and top of vegetables and egg mixture become golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut then serve. Enjoy!
I had some left over pastry dough, so I added some pumpkin, vanilla yogurt, skim milk, little more Splenda, and walnuts and baked in cupcake pan at 350 degrees until edges turned golden brown. Enjoy!

Broiled Veggies
Easiest recipe and delicious! Brought to you by Stephanie Manino.

Ingredients:
Fresh veggies of your choice (I chose broccoli, squash, baby carrots, and green beans)
Pam
Cookie Sheet
Desired dips (I mixed salsa, olive oil mayonnaise, and Mrs. Dash)

Instructions:
Turn oven to BROIL. Spray cookie sheet with Pam and spread vegetables evenly. Feel free to add herbs and spices of your choice. Place in oven and broil until dark brown. I like mine a little crispy, so I broil, then rearrange and broil some more. Remove from oven. Let cool. Dip and eat!
This weekend, I also made some FUDGE. This fudge is our secret family recipe and TO DIE FOR. I always have a funny story about this fudge. My first marathon – The Las Vegas Marathon in 2008, my pre-race dinner was fudge. I could not resist! Needless to say, I crossed the finish line. Ha! With that said, it’s a secret, so you will just have to drool over the picture. I experimented with the fudge and used Smart Balance “Butter”, which is half butter and half oil blend, containing less saturated fat and omega-3’s added with the oil blend.


A little FITNESS update:
As most of you know, I am not one to post pictures of myself minimally clothed. However, I have been working hard on nailing down a diet that is easily maintainable and enjoyable but also beneficial to my body that produces kidney stones at an incredible rate! I also changed my workouts a bit. I am in the best shape of my life and feel more confidence than EVER, hence the pictures below. Ha! I use this as a tool that being vegetarian can result in muscle growth, contrary to popular belief. I have not eaten meat since June of this year.  

Enjoy this glorious life! Happy Day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Chicken Quinoa Tabouli

Ingredients:
¾ cup of uncooked quinoa
12 oz. chicken breast
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
1 TBSP poultry seasoning
Small container of cherry tomatoes (couple handfuls)
2 cucumbers
2-3 large pita bread
3 TBSP parsley
Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:
Mix yogurt and poultry seasoning. Coat chicken breast and set aside.
Chop cucumbers in 4ths and tomatoes in halves. Mix with lemon juice and parsley. Set aside.
Cook the quinoa by placing 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Similar to rice, bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover. Quinoa cooks easily and quick. Pour in olive oil and set aside.
Cook the chicken breasts then let cool. Shred the chicken and mix with cucumbers and tomatoes. Set aside.
Place pita bread side by side on cookie sheet. Toast in oven until golden brown. Let cool and break in to small pieces.
Finally, mix quinoa and other mixture with chicken and veggies. Sprinkle pita chips on top. Voila!
This concoction can be served warm or chilled. I ended up making a BOAT load so I reduced the recipe slightly (or a lot!).
Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crustless Pumpkin Pie Recipe and Thanksgiving

Ingredients:
15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
12 ounce skim milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup of Splenda
1 Tablespoon of butter, melted
1/2 cup of dried oats
2 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
Pam

Instructions:
In a medium sized bowl mix together the milk, eggs, butter and Splenda until well incorporated.
Add the pumpkin, spices and vanilla until mixed thoroughly.
Lastly add in oats and incorporate well.
Spray crock pot with Pam.
Pour the mixture into the crockery and cover with lid.
Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours or on high for 3 - 4 hours. You're looking for the edges to brown and the top will start to crack.

Thanksgiving was a long 4-day weekend celebration of life, happiness, and thankful to God for this amazing life. Lots of family, friends, fun, and food. I can honestly say that God is the reason for my being and I know my family feels the same way. All we have is His and we are beyond blessed!

I have come to the conclusion that I may be one of FEW who actually lost weight over Thanksgiving weekend. Ha! I thoroughly enjoyed my share of sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and some desserts I made. Life is not about deprivation, but enjoyment. Life can be enjoyed without an over consumption of food. It was a challenge to opt for different versions, or should I say REMAKES, of the menu at various places, but was well worth it! I was not planning on losing anymore weight, but being DOWN rather than UP is a good thing in my book!
I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and time with family and friends. This is REALLY what life is about. God has blessed us with a beautiful life – take advantage of it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spaghetti Squash, Carmel Pumpkin Muffins, and a healthier remake of Pumpkin Pie

Spaghetti Squash with Tomato Rosemary Sauce

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash
Large pan
Water

Instructions to cook the squash:
To soften squash, place in microwave for 1 minute. Cut squash in half and remove seeds and pulp. Place rind up in about an inch of water. Boil for 20 minutes on a low boil. Flip and scrape out squash. This part should be easy. If it feels like you are pulling the squash apart, cook longer.

Tomato Rosemary Sauce


Ingredients:
1 large tomato
10-12 cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
½ Tablespoon of garlic paste
Pepper
Finely chopped rosemary
Optional: cheese

Instructions to make sauce:
Dice large tomato then add in cherry tomatoes, desired amount of olive oil and vinegar, add garlic paste, pepper and rosemary. Mix and pour on top of squash.

Optional: Put shredded cheese on top of squash, then add sauce.

Enjoy!

Carmel Pumpkin Muffins
Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½  teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ½ teaspoons of cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin (or pumpkin puree)
1 ½ cups of Splenda
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup of fat free vanilla yogurt
3 eggs
¾ cup of shaved almonds
Variable amounts of carmel

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tin with Pam or line with paper muffin liners.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, Splenda, and brown sugar. Set aside. In small bowl, mix eggs, canned pumpkin, and yogurt. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. Add shaved almonds.

Fill each muffin tin half way with batter, place small amount of carmel in the center, then cover with another small amount of batter. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool and remove from tin.
HealthIER Pumpkin Pie


For the Pumpkin Pie, I used the recipe on the can of Libby’s Famous [canned] Pumpkin. I replaced the sugar with Splenda and used skim milk instead of evaporated milk.

Enjoy!


 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pajamas, Pumpkin Orange Muffins, and Guacamole

Could this weekend have been anymore AWESOME? There is nothing like showering and changing from one pair of pajamas to another. My body LOVES these recovery days, as I get one per week. However, recovery starts at 9:30am on Saturdays post-Spin through Sunday evening.  So, the picture above happened often this weekend, just keep changing out the flannel pajama bottoms.
Pumpkin Orange Muffins

Ingredients:
3 cups Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix
2 eggs
1 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice
Pam

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Spray muffin tin with Pam and fill with batter ¾ to the rim for each muffin. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool and remove from tin. Voila!

Homemade Guacamole
Home grown avocados and lemons + pepper, Rooster sauce, and some salsa = Guacamole. Again, another perk of living in San Diego – home grown produce!
Even though we pay extra attention to giving thanks this week, try to remember that every day is an opportunity to be thankful. Life is SO precious and expressing gratitude should be a daily gesture. On that note, Happy Thanksgiving Week!