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challenge week five


Low-calorie cheeseburger? You wouldn’t think it by looking at that tempting picture, but challenger DietMom replaces beef with venison for a healthy swap!


We had these low calorie cheeseburgers for lunch today. I use lean ground venison for the burger, fat free cheese and 80 calorie whole wheat buns. They are great and I have no trouble getting the whole family to eat one, the guys even eat two and I don’t feel bad about it.

Sweet and Sour Chicken!

Do date night at home and you’ll save calories and money! We love how challenger MiniMiMi prepared a favorite take-out dish at home in a healthier way, and was still able to go to the movies.

Sweet and Sour Chicken!

My husband is a huge fan of Chinese takeout but this simple swap is saving tons of calories and money! I found the recipe in one of my Biggest Loser cookbooks and have been obsessed with it since. It was a perfect meal for a date night in and with the money we saved, we were able to go catch a movie together afterward. I have a feeling he’ll be asking for it again very soon!

Grocery Guru

Challenger MiniMiMi is right, when you take on a healthier lifestyle it will completely change the way you grocery shop. We’re glad to hear she’s found some things that all of us can use!

Grocery Guru

Something I love about Chef Devin’s cookbooks are the details that accompany each recipe. As someone new to cooking at home I was also new to grocery shopping in a healthy way. Her books have helped me uncover so many healthy gems in the grocery store! I’d have never known where to even look for things like Guiltless Gourmet Chips and these No Pudge brownie mixes – I’d keep these on hand even if I wasn’t trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. All you need is yogurt! There were many products I didn’t even know existed!

My Son is Cooking with Me!

This is what the Cook at Home Challenge is all about, 2BFitN10! “I’m really getting hooked on being in the kitchen and trying new foods.”

Darn it, I forgot to get pictures! But I still think it’s pretty neat nonetheless. My nearly 16 year old soon helped me make dinner. I was getting the ingredients ready when he asked if he could help. Knock me over with a feather! Thankfully, it was a simple recipe, Thai Beef with Chilies and Basil over Coconut Rice. It was my first time making this dish and it was delicious.

Last night’s dinner with simple. I made sub sandwiches on fresh french bread with pepper jack cheese drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I served with it a simple Antipasti Chopped Salad, substituting turkey pepperoni and low fat mozzarella cheese instead. It struck me when the meal was over that it felt good eating so much fresh food. I’m really getting hooked on being in the kitchen and trying new foods!

Raviosagne x 3

“I can still help a friend without sacrificing our own meal,” is a freeing revelation by challenger DietDiva when trying to balance healthy, homemade meals and doubling up the work by preparing meals for others.

Raviosagne x 3

Last night dinner at my house was more than a challenge … I had myself in a pickle. Without thinking I offered to deliver dinners for two friends on the same night who just brought babies home from the hospital this week! Not only did I have to prepare a healthy dinner for my family but I needed to triple my batch, prepare all this food while caring for my two young kids and finish early enough to deliver the meals so my friends could bake and enjoy them before it got too late for dinner (although I’m sure those babies are keeping them up pretty late these days)! I was feeling more than overwhelmed when I came to check in here on the blog. I heard another contributor talking about the easy Raviosagne recipe from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Fattening!

After a quick trip to the grocery store I came home and cranked out three delicious trays of the lasagna in about 15 minutes from start to finish! One for each of my friends and their families and one for us! Typically when I plan to cook and deliver a meal for a friend I take the “Easy” route and grab fast food for my family that night so I’m only preparing one meal and not in the kitchen all day! But I found out things can be just as easy and I can still help a friend without sacrificing our own meal and do it all in enough time to cuddle two adorable new babies, take care of my family and make it to church! Can I hear an amen? ;)

The dinner was wonderful and the homes where I needed to deliver the meals were across town near my in-laws home so I took ours over to share with them. There were smiles all around that night and when I went to bed I was feeling so accomplished.

Chicken Enchilasagna

We love the recommendation from challenger DietMom to purposely make leftovers, especially on a meal like this. It means you can save half to freeze for a quick, ready-to-heat dinner later, or package individual servings for healthy lunches throughout the week.

Chicken Enchilasagna

I made Devin Alexander’s Chicken Enchilasagna for supper tonight. How can you go wrong with half lasagna, half enchiladas? Lots of cheesy, gooey goodness. Everyone in our family loves it, make sure you make a double recipe so you can have leftovers.

My Son, the Chef!

A hearty “Way to go!” to challenger AnskySue’s son who took on the task of preparing dinner for the family. We love that the grocery shopping trip was used as a nutrition lesson. Keeping your kids involved in the process of selecting meals, shopping for them and even preparing them is one of the best ways to instill healthy habits in them.

My son, the chef!

Tonight was supposed to be a healthy version of tuna casserole but then my son piped up and said “I want to make dinner!” I had given him a kids cookbook for Christmas with the promise that he would be responsible for choosing and helping to make one dinner each week. Unfortunately, I hadn’t followed through on that when making my weekly meal plan. We had some extra time this evening so I told him to figure out what he wanted to make and we’d do it. So he picked lasagna and snowman cookies for dessert. Off to the store we went where he helped pick out the ingredients. We talked about the different options for each one – regular cottage cheese vs lowfat cottage cheese, regular pasta noodles vs whole wheat – and tried to pick our healthiest options. He read the recipe to me on the way back home and voila, 1.5 hours later I pulled the most delicious lasagna ever out of the oven. Definitely not the healthiest meal of the week but it was better than fast food! And we met this week’s mini challenge with the lasagna’s cheesy goodness! Bonus – I am so excited that while making dinner my son found a new food that he tried and liked! There was about 1/4 cup of cottage cheese left over and he ate it while the lasagna was cooking. He said he would love to have it for a healthy snack every once in a while if I would buy it for him. I would love to know if anyone has found a kids cookbook with HEALTHY recipes. When I bought this one, there were only a few kids cookbooks at the bookstore and I should have spent a little more time to find something with healthier recipes. Most of the kids cookbooks focus on tacos, hamburgers and mac and cheese. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Planning Ahead Helps Avoid Dinner Disaster

Thanks to challenger Diporter for sharing some of the cook at home tips that help her family successfully eat, and snack, healthier!

I love to cook but for a while our schedules were so busy that it seemed so much easier to eat out rather than to cook. After realizing the true cost of eating out – to our wallets and our waists – we decided that we somehow had to cook at home. To do this I started using a menu that I type up and post each Sunday. I try to cook using what we have on hand in the freezer (chicken/fresh pasta/ Sauces) combined with fresh veggies. I have even started making marinades to freeze chicken in so we do not get tired of this healthy meat.

I’ve also started cooking ahead – freezer cooking, so to speak – and keeping homemade meals in the freezer so we can grab them for lunches if we do not have leftovers, or if we need a quick meal because of various meetings that come up.

My husband is a volunteer fireman so there really isn’t a set schedule for him. If the pager goes off, he’s outta here. To help him with that, I made 9 quarts of homemade granola that he can grab as he’s going out the door to hold him over until he returns for dinner. This helps keep him from going out with the guys to a fast food joint after a fire call. He comes home for home-cooked dinners instead.

We feel better, have more energy, and have spent less money on each meal than we did when we went out. We’ve even gotten our friends involved, and instead of going out they contribute to a meal I cook at our house, which keeps costs down for all of us and we can sit and talk as long as we like without feeling guilty or without the bother of other people around.

Kiddie Lunch

Kids love healthy food, especially when it’s displayed in a playful finger-food setting. Thanks to challenger MiniMiMi for this idea!

Kiddie Lunch

I love having my little niece over to play and yesterday I made her a healthy lunch – and she actually ate it! Rock and Roll Pizza Rolls from I can’t believe it’s not fattening are easy and so good! This lunch is fit for a kid but I loved it too!

Chicken Pizza Packets

You’re right DietMom, people generally won’t even notice when you’ve made a few healthier swaps in a really delicious recipe, the way this one sounds!

I was looking for a recipe to make tonight and came across this recipe. I made a few low fat substitutions and now it is a healthy meal. It is surprising how easy it is to make things healthier. My family probably won’t even notice the difference.

1lb chicken breast

2 tbsp olive oil

1 zucchini, thinly sliced

16 turkey pepperoni slices

1 green pepper, julienned

1 onion, sliced

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp basil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 cup halved cherry tomatos

1/2 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cu[ low fat shredded parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine first 11 ingredients. Coat four pieces of foil with cooking spray. Place a quarter of chicken mixture in center of each piece. Fold foil around mixture and seal tightly. Grill, covered over medium high heat for aprox. 15 minutes. Carefully open each packet. Sprinkle with tomatos and cheeses. grill 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

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