Category: Food

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

If our house hadn’t been hit by the pesky Stomach Bug, I would’ve embarked on this adventure a week ago. However, a home-sweeping illness cannot hold me back any longer. Starting on Monday, I’m beginning the 21 Day Fix from Beachbody.

The 21 Day Fix is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. It makes eating and fitness simple. There’s no counting points or carbs or calories. It is just easy to follow portion control and one 30-minute workout per day. With the kit you get seven color-coded containers to measure out your food portions – one container per type of food (example: green=veggies, purple=fruits, red=protein, etc). The Eating Plan booklet breaks down exactly how many of each container you should eat per day. The kit also includes 7 different workout DVDs to follow – one for each day of the week – and they are only 30 minutes long, so you really have no excuse for not hitting play. Sounds pretty simple!

Now, I eat “clean” a lot of the time anyway, but I have been at a standstill on the scale for far too long. With Cameron almost 2 years old, I can no longer blame my muffin top on baby weight. After trying several workout programs and not seeing the scale budge or my clothes fitting any better, I figured it may not be lack of working out; it has to be what I’m putting in my body. So I broke down, read the Eating Guide front to back to front again, figured out my bracket, and I’M READY! I’m excited to see how portion control can help me break through this plateau!

But before we jump two feet in… what about my sweet tooth?! For fear of falling off the wagon simply by not having a “healthy” option on hand, I took a few minutes and made these bad boys!

I have to admit, while making them and even taking a small bite once they were done, I didn’t think I’d be a fan. These little guys are RICH and you can smell/taste/feel the coconut oil very strongly! The first time I tried them, I couldn’t take more than one bite. They weren’t bad, they were just rich and gooey. I wasn’t sure.

Then I stuck them in the freezer. THAT was the answer! These guys, straight from the freezer, tasted like the guilty pleasure I needed. Now with half a dozen of them still hanging out in the freezer, I am ready to embark on this new journey knowing that these delicious fudge bites are ready to savor as an allowed cheat 3X a week if I need it! Wish me luck!

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Why don’t I look like Jillian?

Well, 30 days are over and I did it! I completely Jillian Michael’s 30-day SHRED! My first thought upon completing the challenge…. “So… why don’t I look like Jillian?!”

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I never expected 30 days to transform my body, drop dozens of pounds or turn me into a superior athlete. I think it did exactly what I expected… gave me a good butt kicking every day, removed some unwanted inches, and helped give me a boost of energy each day. It did all of those things. I only lost a measly two pounds according to the scale, but my clothes that were snug now fit just right. I’ve discovered that these circuit/interval training workouts are a great fit for me. They are fast and sweaty, which is important for someone with little free time! I even picked up a Nikki’s Fitness Travel DVD that has interval circuits for 30 minutes. I love Jillian, but it’s nice to be able to switch it up a little.

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I’ve also started tracking my food & exercise using an iPhone app – Lose it! I HATE counting calories, but this app makes it super easy. You can scan barcodes on any food product and magically all of the nutritional info pops up on the screen. You can store your previous meals/snacks to pull up on different days which is a big time saver. Plus, it has tons of workouts to choose from which makes it easy to track about how many calories were burned during your workout.

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When I first signed up, I had to enter height, weight, age, etc, and it decided that to lose one pound per week I should be eating about 1325 calories per day. This number terrified me and I thought “great, I’ll be starving!” but surprisingly, I am UNDER budget nearly every day! Weekends I find the hardest because my dear, loving husband LOVES food… bad-for-you food. And I love it, too. It easier for me to ignore it when I’m at work and it’s not staring me in the face. We are working on making healthier weekend choices.

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So, here’s to plank jacks and jump squats… I raise my coconut water to you. Cheers! 😉

Super-Packed Trail Mix

For the past week, I’ve been shredding it with Jillian. Every. Single. Day.

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Let me tell you, this workout is intense! The workouts are designed to be only 20 minutes long, which is perfect for a busy schedule, but they are 20-non-stop minutes. Jillian models her workout on high intensity interval training. From start to finish, there are no breaks and you end the workout dripping in sweat. My sister in law has been doing it with me, and we both agree that it’s the toughest workout DVD we’ve tried.

I haven’t noticed a whole lot of change in my body appearance, but I can feel myself getting stronger. I’m going to try to stay off the scale until the 30 days is over so that I don’t get discouraged.

Along with trying to work out on a regular basis, I’m learning about little ways to better fuel our bodies. I’ve been experimenting a little with some new-to-me superfoods: Goji berries and Mulberries. Both are quite sweet. The goji berries are a little tart and the mulberries taste a lot like raisins. Both are packed full of good-for-you stuff!

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Goji Berries – These little dried berries contain a healthy dollop of macronutrients. Carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats and soluble fiber. If that’s not enough, they also include 18 amino acids, free-radical fighting antioxidants, carotenoids, vitamins A, C and E, and more than 20 other vitamins and minerals.

Mulberries – These dried berries pack a protein punch! With 3 grams per ounce, this may become your best fruit friend! They are also a good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. It also contains high levels of resveratrol – the powerful antioxidant found in red wine.

With packages filling my pantry, I decided this weekend to make my own trail mix. It’s an easy (and delicious!) way to get an added boost throughout the day. And when that 3pm craving strikes, hit the trail mix instead of the vending machine!

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I kept the ingredient list simple: Almonds, goji berries, mulberries, and dark chocolate. It would also be great to use half almonds, half cashews… but I didn’t have any cashews on hand. I made a big batch since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, but you may choose to cut the batch in half if you aren’t planning on sharing.

First, roast 2 cups of almonds in the oven for 15-20 minutes (or until you smell that nutty flavor!) – allow the nuts to cool completely.

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I chopped up 4 or 5 squares from this Giradelli Intense Dark Chocolate bar, and mixed it together with a cup of Goji berries and a cup of Mulberries. Once the nuts were cool, I added them to the bowl and stirred until combined.

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Seal them in an airtight container, and you’ve got a great snack for the next 7-10 days… if they last that long!

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What is your favorite healthy snack?

The Black Molly Grill

Last night my sister-in-law & mother-in-law gave us a great gift – babysitting so we could go out to dinner for our anniversary! Ashley had given us a gift card to The Black Molly Grill in St. Augustine, so we decided to check it out.

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Anytime we see Spinach & Artichoke Dip on a menu, we usually have to try it. This one didn’t disappoint!

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I ordered the Datil Chicken with goat cheese and sweet potato fries.

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Blake decided on the Aviles – chicken, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, goat cheese and a lemon butter sauce served over penne.

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YUM! Both were out-of-this-world delicious. Their portions are HUGE so we had three boxes of leftovers to bring home with us.

It was fun to go out and enjoy good food together. Cheers to six years of marriage!

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Spaghetti Squash Casserole

I’ve always been intrigued by this giant squash and never really believed it could satisfy my pasta cravings. When I decided to lay off the carbs a bit, I turned to trusty Google and skimmed through recipe after recipe on how to cook this thing. I took a collaboration of ideas and created this…

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

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It is both kid-test and husband-approved! We make it about once a week. I love it because it’s quick, easy, and delicious – and don’t even get me started on how much I love seeing my kids enjoy veggies!

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The ingredient list is simple.

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The scariest part is cutting the squash in half lengthwise. Push the blade away from you and no one gets hurt!

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Scrape out the yucky seeds and discard.

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The cooked squash really does look like spaghetti noodles! Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 large spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
16oz spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup cream cheese
2 cups broccoli florets, cooked
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚
Rinse spaghetti squash and dry
Cut the squash in half CAREFULLY, scoop out seeds
Brush sides of squash with olive oil
Place cut-side down in casserole dish
Microwave 10 minutes (adjust time depending on size – squash should be somewhat pliable)
Repeat for second half of squash
Let squash cool 

In a large saucepan, add spaghetti sauce and cream cheese
Heat on medium-low until combined, stirring often
Add cooked broccoli florets and mix well
Add salt and pepper to taste
Remove from heat 

With a fork, scrape the squash strands into the casserole dish
Add sauce mixture, stir to combine
Top with shredded parmesan and bake for 20 minutes

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today is Valentine’s Day…

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And I had two pretty excited little ones…

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Ironically, I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against the holiday, and I get excited for co-workers and friends when they get flowers, chocolates, and even jewelry from their significant others… but it’s just never been my favorite holiday. In fact, Blake and I kind of have an unwritten rule that we don’t buy gifts for each other, but instead just try to find some quiet time together, which isn’t always easy!

But this year, while he didn’t buy me a gift, he did do something pretty darn amazing…

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He made dinner almost every night this week!

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As you may well know by now, I am not the most organized person and I have very little free time, so when you take making dinner off my list – I am one happy girl. And when you feed me healthy, delicious, REAL food – I’m ecstatic! It was an easy way for him to show me a little extra love this week. Sometimes it’s the little things that we do for those that we love that go a long way.

What was your favorite part of Valentine’s Day?

Whole30 = DONE!

I have a few close friends who are workout fanatics and health food junkies. I don’t pretend to fit into either lifestyle choice, but when one friend did the Whole30 Challenge right after one of my co-workers completed the same challenge, I had to see what the hype was about!

At their suggestion, I ordered the book “It Starts With Food” and read through it in about 2 days. After I had a basic understanding of the “rules” – no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, and no added sugar for 30 days – I set out to see just how long I could survive this impossible feat. I mean, what else is there to eat?!

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I planned to start on a Monday, so I spent the weekend inhaling anything and everything that I was about to give up. I ended the day with a milkshake, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.

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Monday came. I decided I couldn’t do coffee black, so I gave it up for good. I’ve never really liked eggs, but they became my breakfast staple. I’ve never eaten so much chicken in my life. I cannot stand fish but I ate salmon. Twice. The first two weeks were toooooough. Once week 3 hit, it was kind of old-hat. I had lost 6 pounds. Better than that, I was enjoying what I was eating and my body was thanking me for kicking the bad stuff. Without this challenge, I wouldn’t have discovered my love for some of my *new* favorite foods:  avocados, kale, sweet potatoes, and olive oil.

The hardest part of this challenge wasn’t necessarily giving up my go-to foods (although I’m not saying that part was easy). It was learning what was in the foods I WAS eating. I don’t want to scare you with the details, but if you don’t know what’s IN your food, I wouldn’t put it IN your mouth.

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I made it through the entire 30 days without cheating ONCE. I’ve got to say, I surprised myself with that one and was pretty proud of my accomplishment. I lost a total of 8 pounds (bringing me back to my pre-pregnancy weight) and I was feeling energized and strong.

It’s been about 2 months since I completed my first Whole30 and I’ve been able to keep the weight off while re-introducing a few of my favorite foods. I try to stick with a 70% paleo, 30% non-paleo diet, but I don’t feel guilty on Friday pizza nights of the occasional oatmeal for breakfast. I am much more aware of what is in the foods I’m eating and try to avoid the packaged/processed foods. Even Blake has jumped on board and has been throwing more Organic and All-Natural products into the cart! I’m excited for our family to be eating REAL food!

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