Enchilata Casserole

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Ingredients:

Home made Tortilla Recipe:

  • 1 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water

To make tortillas mix flour, baking powder and salt and then add the oil and water and mix into a soft dough.  Knead on the counter for a couple of minutes using some extra flour, then cover in plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.  Heat a cast iron skillet for 5-10 minutes.  Divide dough into 4, and roll out to large think circle.  Put on skillet until you see bubbles – should be 30 seconds-1 minute a side.  Then place on cooling rack while you continue to cook the other three.  Set aside.

Filling:

  • 3 large cooked chicken breasts cubed or shredded
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 large onion sautéed in 2 tablespoons oil

Sauce:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons better than bullion chicken
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sour cream or heavy cream
  • Red chilli pepper flakes

To make the sauce heat the chicken broth with red chili flakes and bullion mixed in.  In another bowl mix 1/3 cup flour with cream or sour cream until smooth and gradually add chicken broth.  Once combined heat to thicken.

To assemble casserole place one tortilla in the bottom of the cast iron skillet, cover with shredded chicken, 1/3 of sautéed onion, 1/3 can of black beans, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated Mexican cheese.  Drizzle a little sauce over the top.  Place second tortilla on the top and repeat the process twice more.  Top with remaining sauce (which should be quite a bit), and generously with shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve with sliced avocado and salsa.

 

 

 

Squash Bisque with Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

Squash Bisque

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  • 1 32 oz container of chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1-2 parsnips
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tablespoons of ‘Better than Bullion’ chicken flavor
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1/2 a small butternut squash
  • A little heavy cream to taste is optional

This soup can be easily modified to suit the vegetables you have available, you really can’t go wrong.  You can also adjust the seasoning to taste.

Put all the above ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil.  Continue to boil until all vegetables are soft.  Using a hand held blender, puree all ingredients until smooth, adding heavy cream if you choose to.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  You can serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese melted into the soup, or just eat it plain.  This makes approximately 10 cups of soup or 5 large servings at about 100 calories a serving.  As you see above I like to make a large batch and store in mason jars in the fridge.  It makes a great lunch and if you work, you can bring a small mason jar of soup to work and put it in the microwave to heat.

  • Chicken broth – 40 calories
  • Carrots – 60 calories
  • Parsnips – 30 calories each
  • Sweet potato – 100 calories
  • 1 onion – 64 calories
  • Bullion – 80 calories
  • Butternut squash – 2 cups 120 calories
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream (optional) – 205 calories

Calorie count: 500-700 Calories for the whole pot.

Bacon Cheddar biscuits

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  • 1/2 cup butter (or alternative fat)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits (optional)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk (or chosen alternative)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients just until blended.  Spoon onto a baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-15 minutes – it makes about a dozen.  Below is the calorie breakdown for you.  If you substitute lower calorie alternates you can look them up to get a more accurate calorie count.

 

  • 2 cups flour – 700 calories
  • Butter/fat – 800 per half cup
  • 1 cup cheddar – 455 calories
  • 1 cup milk – between 100 and 150 depending on the milk
  • 1 egg – 70 calories
  • 1/2 cup bacon bits – 216 calories

Total calories = 2400 – 12 biscuits at 200 calories each

 

Group Exercise – a supportive community

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In this article I’ll explore the benefits of group exercise as oppose to trying to do it by yourself. We will look at why it’s so important for those wanting to get fitter and healthier plug into a fitness community.  Not only that, but we will see how this type of exercise helps individuals reach and maintain their health and fitness goals successfully.

I have been teaching exercise in one form or another for over 20 years.  It has been my full time occupation now for 8 years, and one of my greatest delights while teaching and training is to see people connect with one another and form a supportive and motivating fitness community.

I remember from my days of attending exercise classes how much fun it is to work out with friends, and have friends support and encourage you in your fitness goals.  But beyond that there is an added element of motivation that comes with being part of a group.  

This can be true of health and fitness clubs to a degree, but there is always the added element of being surrounded by mirrors, and working out with others you don’t know, who seem to be so much fitter than you are.  In a traditional health club environment, this can be the opposite of motivating, and many people have left feeling discouraged and given up before they even start.

At our Community Center location we do not have mirrors, which for many is a HUGE positive.  It makes sense to me that watching yourself and others exercise can be discouraging for those with insecurities about their body image and their abilities in a group class.  As much as a mirror can help us with our form, it can also highlight comparisons between exercisers in such a way as to be discouraging.  As quoted in this study “ Women in a mirrored environment reported greater self-consciousness and more social comparisons”

It also seems that our fitness community has been truly blessed with some of the very nicest people!  I am always so excited to see new participants welcomed and befriended when they join a class.  Many come and meet people they haven’t seen in a long time but used to know, so old friendships are reignited.  There is a wonderfully supportive element in our classes, and it’s very exciting to see people feeling accepted and encouraged not only by me but by their fellow class participants.

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To continue to encourage the enrichment and growth of our fitness community, every month or so we invite those currently attending our classes or coming to me for one-on-one training, to join us for a meal at a local restaurant.  This added social element is designed to enrich our relationships with one another, and promote the continuation of support in our quest to reach and maintain our health and fitness goals.  Of course if one is to be truly and wholly healthy, then there is a psychological aspect to be considered.  Feeling accepted, loved, encouraged and supported by other members of our community makes us overall happier and more positive people.  Ergo our psychological health is also nurtured in a social or exercising group environment.

Personal Training is another method that has been proven highly effective in achieving and maintaining health and fitness goals.  The accountability of having a weekly or twice weekly appointment with a trainer is key to ensuring you are sticking to an exercise program and working towards your goals. As quoted in this article  “Anyone who has worked with an exercise professional understands that a personal trainer offers much more than just exercise advice and company during a workout. An experienced, educated and encouraging trainer will offer lifestyle coaching, time management and support on staying motivated. A registered personal trainer will also be able to tailor each exercise session to your individual needs, fitness & exercise levels, and health and injury history. Your workouts will be safe and effective.”

As you start this new year, consider what you would like to accomplish in the area of health and fitness.  Nothing is more important!  Ask yourself the following questions  

  • Am I stressed?  If so how can I decrease my stress?
  • Do I get enough exercise daily?
  • Is my diet healthy?
  • Do I have happy healthy relationships?

In answering the above questions, think about baby steps towards a happier healthier you.  Consider becoming part of a community that will support and encourage you in your goals.  Take one tiny step today towards improving your health and ultimately your life.

For those interested, below are links to studies that show the benefits of a supportive group when starting an exercise and fitness routine.

 Benefits of group support for weight loss and fitness maintenance

Group motivation for fitness

Positive peer pressure