New Meal Ideas

I am a busy mom so easy, healthy, reheatable meals are very important to me.  And after eating salads for two years, I need something new to get excited about in the kitchen.

This first one comes to you from one of my favorite food blogs 100daysofrealfood.com – Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.  I bought her latest book and kind of went to town.  Read the first half about how to shop and what to look for regarding ingredients, etc.  This one is good because the kiddo can help by peeling carrots (doesnt he look thrilled) or measuring chicken stock and then you just throw it all in and let it cook.  Easy.

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This next one comes you from Scotland.  My boyfriend started making this as a one-pot meal.  He’s a great cook so I was shocked when he cooked something so simple.  Here’s the deal:

1.  Heat a little bit (2 TBSP) of EVOO in a large pan.  Throw in one of those bags of veggies from the produce department at your local grocery store that says “stir fry”.

2.  Cook by stirring constantly on med-high heat for about 5 minutes or until the desired tenderness.  I like mine a little crunchy.

3.  Scoot the veggies over to one half of the pan and drop in about 10 uncooked, thawed medium shrimp and saute those until just pink.

4.  Drizzle stir fry sauce over both the veggies and the shrimp and stir to combine.  Turn off the heat.

5. Enjoy!

IMG_2490   What do you cook to get out of the salad rut?

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Filling the Void

Moderation is key.  We all know that.  Knowing and doing are two different things though.  It’s hard to actually put into practice for some of us.  I love love love cookies. If I have too many, I’m going to gain all this weight back.  I love love love spin class.  If I do too many, I’ll start to burn up some of this muscle mass that I’ve been trying to build so I can naturally increase my metabolism.  One cookie is enough (not the whole bag and not one a day).  One spin class a week is enough (mix it in with kick boxing and weight training for example).  Moderation and balance.

Same goes with my alcohol consumption.  Recently I read this book, All Fall Down, and it scared the crap out of me.  We have discussed before that drinking is my vice.  I’m a party girl and sometimes, once I start, it’s hard to stop me.  I like to be in the middle of the fun and I rarely say no.  I go to it to relieve the stresses of the day or shut off my brain when I’m over thinking – a glass or two of wine a night before bed.  The main character in this book really hit home with me even though her vice is pills.  The real kicker was how she describes trying to sleep in rehab.  When she talks about trying to sleep while her body is detoxing, it reminds me of trying to sleep from time to time. I never knew why I would wake up several times in the night, sometimes sweating profusely.  I tried several things to try to pinpoint the cause but couldn’t (I’ve even blogged about it).  Sure enough, after a week of having wine every night, I would have so much trouble sleeping the first night that I didn’t have my one-two glasses.  I know it seems so outlandish that it can happen after only a glass or two and I’m still experimenting but I’m pretty sure that’s the cause of my sleepless nights.  #imisssleep

I’m learning to say no.  I’m learning to just have one.  I’m learning to listen to my body.

I’ll try to tackle coffee next…ugh…wish me luck.

Perfect Start to the Week

Don’t you just love a good Monday?  Sounds like an oxymoron, right?  It’s so important to get your week off to a good start.  It’s the man-made restart.  Diets and workout routines around the world are starting back today, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  Of course it would be better if we could all maintain throughout the weekend, but that doesn’t always happen.  So here in the real world, we restart on Monday.  We go to church on Sundays to get our minds right (I listened to a very inspiring message on falling forward) and Mondays we get our bodies back on their programs – back in the gym and back to healthy eating.

This morning was a good start to the week for me.  For starters, I attended church Sunday (yesterday) to get my mind right and then I made a plan that put me first.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to workout Monday night due to an event at ROC House I’ll be attending so I planned on running in the morning instead. I dislike running (right up there with pushups) and getting up early to workout (my bed is really comfortable, especially at 5am). This morning, however, it just all fell in place for me to do both. I woke up 10 min before my 5am alarm which use to annoy me, but now I look at it as a good thing because I wasn’t woken up artificially from a deep slumber.  Then my dad called at 4:57 because I texted (yes, it’s a word) him last week that I needed those wake up calls this week (that was me making a plan to catch myself slipping #knowyourself).  He was very pleasant, and I knew I’d have to answer to him about how far I ran so I hoisted myself out of my cloud and got moving. I put away some laundry, started the dishwasher, turned on the Keurig, got dressed, snapped my heart rate monitor in place and hit start on my RunKeeper app.  I was off!  I ran a good bit of the 2.28 miles (I typically do more of a run-walk) and shaved off about a minute from my usual 1-3 mile pace (which I find to be a very helpful and motivating feature on this app). On my run I just happened to look down at the right moment to see nature’s love and thought this would be the perfect forum to share it.

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Then on the way to work I stopped at Kroger to get some fuel with my fuel points and voila – $2.87 per gallon!  I was thrilled!  $0.50 off per gallon!  I try not to be bossy but seriously people – get your prescriptions filled at Kroger at the very least.  Let your insurance companies pay for your fuel points and then use them each month before they expire.

I know I will annoy some people at work today but I mean it sincerely this time when I say, Happy Monday!

My next blog post will be about how diets don’t work but I need to do some research before I hit “POST”.  I hope you have a great week!

Reality Check

reality

Ain’t it fun livin in the real world..

Well actually, no.  It’s all much better in my head where Walt Disney writes most of the scripts and there are rainbows and butterflies.  But what came before the colorful rainbows and fluttering butterflies?

thunderstorms

and

caterillar

The idea of something might sound really great, but the reality is that it takes a lot of hard work and some ugly prickly scenarios and lightning might even strike to get there.  The idea of watching your kids and grandkids play in the backyard while you pour lemonade and your husband of 27 years barbecues on the grill, but the reality is that you had to birth and raise those kids to get grandkids (A LOT of blood, sweat and tears, literally), and you had to squeeze 18 lemons to get that lemonade (because fresh squeezed lemonade tastes so much better than the alternative), and you had to eat overdone meat for many dinners to get that whole barbecue thing down.  The reality is that I like the idea of a six pack and leaner legs but I’m not ready to give up chocolate and run regularly to get them.

The key is knowing yourself.  Once you know yourself…your limits, your abilities, your weaknesses, your strengths…then you can set goals and priorities.  Being self aware is probably one of the hardest things to accomplish and also one of the most important.  I know that I will text and drive unless I give my phone to my son in the backseat.  I know that I will not get up in the morning to workout.  I know that I crave something sweet after every meal.  So I plan my workouts for the afternoons and bring fruit to try not to eat the delicious DoubleTree cookies that are delivered to our office daily (or at least that’s what it seems like…where do all those cookie tins come from?!?!?!).

You can apply this theory to so many things.  The idea of having bouncy curls every morning is great but the reality of getting up early so I can spend 30 minutes on just my hair…not so great.  The idea of having tasty roasted vegetables for dinner sounds great but getting home at 8:30 after a killer workout after a full day at work only to have to wait 30 more minutes for these seasoned and perfectly charred veggies…also not so great.  Living in Europe for a year sounds like a great idea, but the reality of applying for a VISA and budgeting for no income for a year and everything else that goes into that plus being away from the people you love the most bites.

The idea of something and the reality of it are usually two different things so I have to check myself and have people around me to keep me grounded but at the same time not squash my dreams.  It’s not easy.  If you can do all that by yourself, without the help of others, you are way ahead of the game so take a bow.  I’m getting there but it’s taken years of reflection, tears, slaps in the face, ugly wake up calls, and journaling to get there.

PS I had the yummy veggies last night and my hair is in bouncy curls this morning and it was all worth it.  I think I’ll make them again tonight.

veggies

Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

I wish I had come up with that one but actually, while I’m wishing, I just wish I had listened to the people that said that and heeded their advice.  I was starving as I drove home one day last week and a busy evening ahead of me and I needed a snack or I feared I would turn into Robin Williams. On my way to my next stop from work was a Krystal’s <insert ashamed look here>.  “What’s the harm in one little tiny Krystal Chik?” I thought.  Besides the guilt of eating fast food and not having a plan for when I get hungry so I don’t resort to unhealthy delicious morsels of yumminess, nothing really.  Just 300 empty calories and 16 grams of fat.  My body deserves better on a regular basis and I give it just that most of the time but every now and then I slip.

So I know myself pretty well. I know that when I get hungry, I will put things in my mouth that I will regret mentally and physically.  So I need a plan.  Guess what showed up in my life Friday?  A MEAL PLAN! <Cue the angels singing>  My dear friend who is on a mission to lose weight is following this meal plan from a friend’s trainer, and it’s just what I needed.  I know that I don’t eat enough calories so I’m continuing to lose weight, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I need to add back some calories from protein and veggies.  I have too much sugar from fruit in my diet so there’s still too much jiggle for my liking.  This meal plan was just what I was looking for: five small meals a day, high protein, low carbs.  Now the prep work is a pain and it’s not sustainable forever because I like my fruit for breakfast, but I have less than three weeks until our family cruise so it’s crunch time!

(I don’t think it would be right for me to share the meal plan here because I’m sure it’s part of what the trainer charges for, but it’s simple and you can probably google what I described above and find something.)

Of course all this planning talk made me think about having a plan for all areas of your life.  (I love a theme.)  You need a financial plan to be financially successful.  You need a plan for your family in order for it to flourish.  How in the world will you know what to do next if you have no idea what you are working towards?  I’m going to write mine down.  I think it sticks when you put pen to paper.  And I’m going to forgive myself for not heeding this advice much earlier in life than this.  I’m going to make a plan and work my plan and I’m actually excited about it!

Green Smoothies

Green smoothies are my new favorite thing.  I’m trying to give up dairy but was having a hard time coming up with a breakfast alternative after making the same yogurt smoothie for two years.  Well ask and ye shall receive.  My brother got me a Magic Bullet for Christmas (which is not as good at blending as my Bella btw) and in it were dairy-free smoothie recipes.  #solutions.  So I’ve been playing around with ingredients and trying to find the perfect mix of something easy, cheap, healthy and that my son would drink (I want it all).  Again, ask…receive.  I was scrolling through my Instagram feed recently and saw this adorable little girl drinking a green smoothie.  #solutions.  So here are my two favorites right now:

1) Winter Greens Smoothie:  This yummy concoction was my boyfriend’s idea and it turned out to be really great and I like the tips at the top of the webpage as well.  Click on the picture and it will take you there.  Yes, you too can have broccoli for breakfast!

 Winter Greens    Winter Greens Recipe

2. Lean Green Machine:  I stole this one from an old friend that I connected with on Instagram.  The picture of her kid drinking it made me want to start making them in the hopes that mine would get on board…not so much.  I’m still working on him though.  Fear not, I’ll break him.

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I know they look gross but they can be so good!  Here are some things that I have learned:

1.  Peel your banana before you freeze it.

2.  Blend in stages.  My Magic Bullet has a hard time pureeing everything all at once so if I blend the apple, ice and water first, for example, and then add the banana and blend and then everything else, the greens puree much better.  No one wants to chew kale through a straw in the morning.

3.  Put the heavy stuff on top (or in my case the bottom because you flip the magic bullet cup over before you blend).  You want the liquids closer to the blade and the heavy stuff like ice and apple pieces to weigh down the greens and other things.

I like these smoothies much better than juicing which I tried years ago but the machine was such a hassle with its 72 parts.  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!  Do you have any smoothie recipes that you love and want to share?

P.S. Cheese is hard to quit.

P.P.S. I can get my kiddo to drink a dairy-free fruit smoothie.  I just throw in whatever frozen fruit I have on hand and/or banana and splash in OJ and Almond milk (it helps cut the sweetness and adds calcium). He loves it!

Having Your Cake and Eating it

You can’t have your cake and eat it too?  Says who?  I think that saying is quite possibly the most defeating one around and I absolutely hate it.  What’s the point of cake if you can’t eat it?!?!

I have struggled with it for some time though because people have said it to me and I bow out of the race for the life I want because “they” say I can’t eat my “cake”.  I have decided that I will prove them wrong.  I’ll work harder.  I’ll earn it.  Maybe I’ll change the ingredients of my cake or the size  or shape of my cake but dammit I’ll have cake and I’ll enjoy every bite!

This blog post helped me decide that.

And if you need a song to go with this blog post, this is what’s currently playing in my head while I type this.  The lyrics are a little explicit and don’t really apply to this blog because I’m not referring to …well …what she’s referring to, but you’ll see why I chose it.

Enjoy your cake!

Listen to Your Insides

Before I get into my little life lesson of the day, I want to tell you about a yummy recipe that I made tonight:  Lentil Soup.  Be sure to read the comments and mix it up with more veggies and other things to add flavor.  346 calories, 22g of fiber (now that I’m typing this that sounds like a lot) and 18g of protein per serving so there was still room for a tiny dessert.  Enjoy!

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So I’ve blogged about listening to your heart but this goes a little further.  As I’ve gotten older I have become more in tune with my body.  I’ve heard this would happen but of course my simple brain couldn’t comprehend what that would mean and that it would enhance other areas as well.

If you’ve been reading you know that I had been having some issues with my skin. Well that is no more thank God – literally! It took me a while to figure out what the problem was.  I spent money on different creams and cleansers but nothing was working.  I brainstormed about what was different now that I hadn’t been doing six months ago.  Then one day it hit me – it was my birth control! The very thing that would prevent pregnancy was keeping men away before we could even get that far. Awesome.  I called my doc immediately and switched and I’ve been clean and clear and under control since.  It was something that I was putting inside my body not something on the outside.  Lesson learned.

Recently Atlanta has experienced some … how do I put this … weather troubles, so I’ve been stuck home for about 48 hours and it’s been cold.  So I can’t go to the gym or get healthy groceries to make fresh salads so yesterday I just ate whatever came to mind.  For breakfast I had cereal.  For lunch I had scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes and roasted asparagus (not awful but I had two servings of potatoes).  For dinner I had frozen pizza, edamame (to make me feel a little better) and a warm chocolate chip cookie from the oven with a glass of almond milk (I’m trying to give up cow’s milk).  Carbs, carbs and more carbs, and literally I felt awful all day – slight headache, sluggish, bloated (and other things I won’t discuss here).  It wasn’t a pretty sight to say the least so thank goodness no one was seeing me.  I vowed before I went to bed that night that I wouldn’t have a single carb the next day.  I woke up and had a banana, scrambled eggs (1 whole and 2 egg whites) and a cup of green tea sweetened with local honey.  For lunch I had a fried chicken salad with extra tomatoes from the neighborhood cafe.  For dinner I had the lentil soup referenced above and I went to the gym. Now I know that wasn’t a perfect day with the fried chicken and I snuck in a few Hershey’s kisses as a snack (shame!) but let me tell you, I felt a million times better!  My body does not like carbs.  Lesson learned.

Now I listen to my body much more than I used to and it’s happy when I do.  I feel better.  I think about what it would feel like to eat something before I put it in my mouth and if my body doesn’t want that glass of wine or bag of chips, I listen to it and don’t have it.

What is your body trying to tell you?