You Say it’s Your Birthday

i'm notToday, April 28th, is my birthday…and as I sit here, reflecting on this past year…it is almost mind-blowing to realize how much has changed for me.

 

This time, last year, I wasn’t completely comfortable with who I was.  I wasn’t happy when I looked in the mirror.  Sometimes, I would stare at myself in the mirror, look into my own eyes, and think – who are you?

I didn’t know.  I was lost.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I had (and still do have) a beautiful family- a caring husband and healthy children – but something wasn’t right.  Everything on the outside looked perfect…but looks can be deceiving…and inside, I was a mess.

Six months ago, when I started this health and fitness journey, I had no idea it would become a mental health journey as well.  I had no idea that taking 30 minutes for myself every morning to exercise, before everyone else got up, that eating clean, drinking super food shakes and reading personal development books would lead to this whole new outlook I now have on life.

I’m going to be real and open and honest because, really, what’s the point of writing any of this if I’m not?

I used to be the girl who looked in the mirror and thought she was fat.  I looked in the mirror and thought I was less than.  There were a lot of “un” words running through my mind when I got dressed and put my makeup on in the morning.  “Unconfident, unattractive, unmotivated, unloveable, unworthy, unfit, unable….un -….un-….un-….fill in the blanks with anything else you can think of.

I’m not being dramatic.  I promise.  This is how it WAS.

NOW – I am “full of” – full of joy…full of peace…full of confidence…full of appreciation…full of all the wonderful things that life has to offer…full of superfoods 🙂 and sometimes even…full of hot air 🙂

For my birthday today, someone posted this picture on my timeline:

birthday

I messaged her, told her it was perfect, and she said – “I thought of you when I saw it.”

I can’t even explain the amount of joy that fills my heart when I get messages like this because not only do I see myself this way now, but others do too.  And not only do they see me this way (which is nice of course) but more importantly, I am helping them change…change their body, their life, their lifestyle, their family and their mindset.

pic of me

I am changing lives.

But first, I had to change mine.

And now that I have…the view when I look in the mirror…is totally different then it ever has been before.

Weekly Recipe Round (17) Up

weekly recipe 17

 

Your weekly dinner recipes are hereeeeeeeee!!!   These are all delicious, family-friendly and of course…HEALTHY!!!  Not only am I going to share four, that’s right, FOUR recipes with you…I’m going to give you a bunch of meal prepping tips to make it EASY-EASY-EASY!  All you have to do is go to the grocery store and get cookin’.  And of course, share these recipes and this blog with others J

About 3 years ago, when I first started looking into this elusive meal prepping thing (this is when I did my first Whole30), I thought- who has time for that? How do people not only plan their entire menu for the week, but also prep everything for it?  I only had one child at the time and the thought, to be honest, was totally overwhelming.  Besides, people talked about “meal prepping” like it was a buzz word.  They threw it around just like people throw around the word “self-love” without really understanding what it actually MEANS.

Since I started this health and fitness journey 6 months ago, I began to TRULY understand what it means to meal prep. I found that many times people told you to meal prep, but did not tell you what you actually needed to do and for someone who is the complete opposite of organized, I found that very frustrating!

So, with all that being said, I’m not only going to help you out with the dinner menu for this week, but I’m going to offer you a meal-prepping guide as well. WOO-HOO!

*Side Note- I typically do my meal-prepping on Sunday afternoon. Yes, it takes a couple of hours BUT then I have everything done for the rest of the week and is that worth it?  OH YEAH.

Here are all the recipes!!! (They are from the Cooking Light Magazine)

buffalo quinoa burgers

Buffalo Quinoa Burgers

Serves 4 (1 burger each)

Ingredients

7 teaspoons canola oil, divided

3/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped peeled carrot

3   garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa

1/2 cup panko   (I use whole wheat panko)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups canned unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained  (I use organic!)

1   large egg

2 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

4   (1 1/2-ounce) whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted

4   romaine lettuce leaves

4   (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato

Preparation

  1. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water and quinoa; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Spoon cooked quinoa onto a large plate; cool 5 minutes. Combine quinoa mixture, panko, salt, pepper, chickpeas, and egg in a food processor; pulse until chickpeas are slightly mashed and mixture comes together. Shape quinoa mixture into 4 (1/2-inch-thick) patties.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  3. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons oil and hot sauce in a bowl. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top evenly with hot sauce mixture, lettuce, tomato, and top halves of buns.

Tip: Use a Flat Out Wrap, Sandwich Thin, or Romaine Lettuce Leaves in place of a bun for a low-carb option

Another tip: Serve this with a side of green beans and dilly sauce (1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt, 2 TBSP plain almond milk, 2 tsp chopped fresh dill, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, ¼ tsp paprika)

**MEAL PREP PLAN**

  1. Make the patties ahead of time (1-2 days), wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate. They will hold their shape better once you cook them.
  2. Make the dilly sauce ahead of time and keep in the fridge.
  3. Slice the tomatoes and keep them in a Ziploc bag.
  4. Wash and chop lettuce and put in a Ziploc bag.

Sheet Pan Chickensheet pan chicken

Serves 2 – double it to feed more

Ingredients

Cooking spray

8 ounces small Yukon gold potatoes (about 1 inch) (you could also sub white sweet potatoes, diced up; fingerling potatoes or even sunchokes instead)

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon dry white wine

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

1 teaspoon honey

2   (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 teaspoon canola oil

Preparation

  1. Place a jelly-roll pan in oven. Preheat oven to 500° (leave pan in the oven as it preheats)
  2. Carefully remove pan from oven. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add potatoes to the pan; bake at 500° for 10 minutes.
  3. Combine olive oil and next 5 ingredients (through honey) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Sprinkle chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; cook 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; drizzle chicken evenly with about 2 tablespoons mustard mixture.
  4. Add chicken to jelly-roll pan with potatoes; bake at 500° for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is done. Drizzle potatoes with remaining mustard mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Tip: Serve with a side spinach salad and/or chile and lime roasted carrots (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chile-lime-roasted-carrots)

**MEAL PREP PLAN**

  1. Make the mustard mixture ahead of time
  2. Peel and dice potatoes (if you aren’t using the baby potatoes)
  3. This whole recipe could be made ahead of time and simply heated up in the microwave
  4. If you are serving a side salad with it, chop up all vegetables ahead of time

Caramelized Cabbage with Whole Wheat Penne and Provolone

Serves 4 (2 cups per serving)

CL March 15: Dinner Tonight
CL March 15: Dinner Tonight

Ingredients

6 ounces uncooked whole-wheat penne

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

6 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Fresno chile, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

3 ounces aged provolone cheese, shredded and divided (about 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Preparation

  1. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Add pasta; cook 7 to 9 minutes or until al dente. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 30 seconds or until beginning to brown. Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add cabbage to pan; cook 6 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in salt, black pepper, and chile; cook 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in pasta, reserved 1/4 cup pasta cooking liquid, and reserved garlic.
  6. Stir in rind and 1.5 ounces cheese.
  7. Divide pasta mixture among 4 bowls. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1.5 ounces cheese and thyme.

Tip: Serve this with a Shaved Radish and Pine Nut Salad (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/shaved-radish-pine-nut-salad)

Another tip: You can easily add grilled chicken to this dish for all you meat-lovers out there

**MEAL PREP PLAN**

(These meal prep tips are intended to be used as a guide IF you plan on cooking the dish the night you are going to eat it…these just speed up the process for when you’re ready to cook that night!)

  1. Cook pasta ahead of time.
  2. Chop cabbage up.
  3. Slice fresno chile up
  4. Shred cheese
  5. Grate the lemon rind
  6. Slice the garlic
  7. Make Radish Salad ahead of time and store in the fridge.

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Polenta

Serves 4 (about ½ cup per serving)

sweet and sour

Ingredients

3 cups unsalted chicken stock (or veggie broth)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup stone-ground polenta

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 1/4 pounds 93% lean ground turkey

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil

Cooking spray

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup unsalted ketchup (I used plain tomato sauce)

2 tablespoons Sriracha (hot chile sauce)

1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce   (or liquid smoke)

Preparation

  1. Bring stock and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and polenta is thickened. Add butter, stirring until melted.
  2. Combine turkey and sesame oil in a medium bowl. Divide and shape turkey mixture into 20 meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add meatballs to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan.
  4. Add 1/4 cup water and remaining ingredients to pan, stirring with a whisk; bring to a boil.
  5. Return meatballs to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until meatballs are done.
  6. Serve over polenta.

Tip: You could serve this with brown rice or quinoa instead of polenta

Another tip: Serve this with a side of Sesame Sautéed Spinach (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sesame-sauteed-spinach)

 

**MEAL PREP PLAN**

 

(These meal prep tips are intended to be used as a guide IF you plan on cooking the dish the night you are going to eat it…these just speed up the process for when you’re ready to cook that night!)

  1. Make and cook meatballs ahead of time
  2. Make sauce ahead of time.
  3. On the night you plan to eat this dinner add the meatballs and sauce to a pan and cook together until heated through
  4. Make polenta ahead of time.
  5. Cook the spinach ahead of time and re-heat when ready to eat

Here are a few other general meal prep tips to follow:

  1. Make hard-boiled eggs for the week and have them for breakfast or add them to salads
  2. Grill several chicken breasts and add them to salads for the week.
  3. Cook grains ahead of time (such as rice)
  4. Chop and roast vegetables ahead of time
  5. Assemble salads (minus the dressing), store in the fridge and have them ready to take to work all week
  6. Bake oatmeal cups and/or egg muffins to have for breakfast throughout the week

Did you enjoy these recipes?!? Let me know!  I love to hear your comments!!  And don’t forget – SHARING IS CARING…share this blog post on your personal social media pages!!!

Go Take a Walk

Did you know….Walking is good for the body, mind AND soul?  If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time than you’ll know that this is something that is HUGELY important to me!!!  TOTAL health and wellness includes a healthy mind, body and soul!!!

walk as if

I LOVE walking – I have a lot of fond memories growing up of going on walks with my family.  When I think about those walks, a little happiness bubbles in my tummy.  I remember the way the sun felt on my skin, the pavement felt beneath my feet and the enjoyment I got from being with my parents, and often, my sister.

There was a certain route we usually took and we called it the 3 mile loop.  I can’t remember what we talked about but I can remember how it felt to be out there, to look at the trees blowing in the breeze and to watch the ducks paddle across the lake.  Even now, when I think about it, a sense of calm and peace washes over me.

I still get that feeling when I go for walks today.  I love taking my kids for walks.  If our destination is within walking distance, you better believe we are pounding the pavement instead of hopping in the car.  Being in the sunshine, getting the blood pumping and burning a few extra calories?  YES PLEASE!!!

me walking

There is something about the breeze on my face and the fresh air in my lungs that boosts my spirits…and…apparently…I’m not the only one that feels this way.  There are MANY benefits to walking for exercise and/or enjoyment…here are 12 of them:

  1. Reduces stress.
  2. Releases endorphins or the “happy chemicals”.  I often recommend to my clients who are suffering from depression to get out and go for a walk!
  3. Boosts self-esteem!!!!  Did you know that exercising improves your perception of yourself and how attractive you are?
  4. Gives you a chance to enjoy the outdoors – exercising outdoors can actually boost self-esteem more
  5. Prevents cognitive decline (aka helps prevent memory loss)
  6. Alleviates anxiety
  7. Increases brain power – cardiovascular exercise produces new brain cells
  8. Boosts memory and your ability to learn new things!
  9. Helps combat addiction because exercises releases dopamine – the reward chemical in the brain
  10. Helps you sleep better
  11. Increases overall energy and productivity at work
  12. Boosts creativity (I know I get a lot of GREAT – if I do say so myself – ideas while walking)

So…grab a buddy…and get out there!!!!  Walk, run, bike, DO SOMETHING…just make sure you GET UP AND MOVE!!

I want to hear from you!!!!  Tell me what kind of exercise you like to do and what benefits you have found from exercising!!!  Share this post with others and inspire them to workout with you!!!

Give Me Some More S’mores!

I don’t know where y’all are living at…but here in WA the weather has been ahhhhh-mazing!!!  The sun has been out and we have been playing, playing, playing outside (and definitely not doing laundry or cleaning inside).

The first year we moved to WA I requested, for my birthday, a fire pit for our backyard…and we use it every chance we get!

fire pit 2

This weekend was PERFECT fire pit weather and I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of fire pits I think of s’mores!!

But, technically, I guess you could say I don’t like s’mores (gasp) because I can’t stand eating marshmallows.  Yuck! I don’t like the taste, the texture, or the ingredients for that matter.

You’re probably wondering, at this point, why I’m even writing about s’mores if I don’t like them.  Here’s the thing – I like the graham cracker and chocolate part of them!

Here’s how a night around the fire pit typically goes…

I will roast a marshmallow (because they are so much fun to roast) and then I will pluck it off the stick for my husband to eat…and I will do it again and again and again…until he tells me to quit feeding him marshmallows.  In between roasting them, I’ll make little chocolate and graham cracker sandwiches for myself…

But really, if I’m going to be honest, I’m not getting the full s’mores experience am I?  One of the vital ingredients is being left out.  So I did a little digging around on Pinterest (you gotta love to hate it) and found a Paleo s’mores recipe!!!  Woot Woot!!!

So, I thought I’d share it right here…for all of y’all lovely readers out there in cyber space!  These were delicious and they totally brought the fire pit experience to a whole new level for me – because I got to have a s’more for real!

smores

Grain Free S’mores Bars

http://deliciouslyorganic.net/smore-bars-grain-free-paleo/

Serves 16

For the crust:
1/2 recipe of grain-free graham crackers
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

For the brownie layer:
1 recipe of fudgy brownies

For the marshmallow layer:
1 1/4 cups maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and adjust the rack to the middle position. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper (place two sheets of parchment paper perpendicular to each other in pan, pushing paper into the corners).

Place the graham crackers and melted coconut oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until crackers are finely ground and are moist. Pour the cracker mixture into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the crumbs to make an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes.

Spoon fudgy brownie batter over graham cracker crust and bake for 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Place the maple syrup and the salt in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. While maple syrup is boiling, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed. (You should have the egg whites whipped and ready, waiting for your syrup to be drizzled in. If they’re whipping faster than your syrup is coming to temperature, just stop the mixer until the syrup is ready.)

When the syrup reaches 240°F, reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of syrup into the egg whites to warm them. Slowly pour in the rest of the syrup (it should take about 1 1/2 minutes to add all of the syrup). Increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 7 minutes, until the marshmallow crème is stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla and whip an additional 2 minutes.

After bars have baked and cooled, hold onto the overhanging parchment paper and gently lift the brownies out of the pan. Place them to a cutting board. Pour the marshmallow fluff on top of brownies and spread evenly. To cut, dip a knife in hot water, wipe with a clean cloth and then slice. Repeat. Serve

After you make these, tell me how much you love them!!  I want to hear from you!!  And don’t forget – share this blog post with all of your friends, acquaintances, co-workers and loved ones!

 

 

 

 

Weekly Recipe Round (16) Up

I am seriously excited about this week’s round of recipes (I know, I know, what else is new) because I’m starting a brand new workout program Monday!!

22

Have y’all heard of 22 Minute Hard Corps???  It’s Tony Horton’s newest workout program and it’s daily exercises, done at home in…you guessed it…22 minutes!!  BAM!!!  It’s a no non-sense, boot-camp style workout to get it done!!!

And by the way – if this sounds like your jam – hit me up and I’ll send you the link to order it!!!!

And guess what?  There’s a complete nutrition plan that comes with the program- NOT a diet plan, a nutrition plan – and lucky for you, I’m going to share a few recipes with you from it!!!!

 

Bison Broccoli Stir Fry

This makes 3 servings (1 serving = 1 red, 1 green, 1 tsp)

Ingredients:

4 oz. ground bison

cayenne

garlic powder

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 cup broccoli florets

Directions:

  1. cook 12 oz. ground bison (or sliced bison steak, or lean ground beef) in 3 tsp. coconut oil until no longer pink, about 6 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle bison with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper if desired.
  3. Divide bison evenly between three food containers. Add 1 cup broccoli to each container, cover, and place in fridge.

22 min hard corp meal prep

Sesame Chicken with Asparagus

This makes 3 servings (1 serving = 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange)

¾ rotisserie chicken breast

5 roasted asparagus spears

½ cup steamed snap peas

2 Tbsp. sesame seeds

½ cup brown rice

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle the brown rice with ½ tsp. cumin, ½ tsp. chili powder, 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, and as much chopped cilantro as you’d like, then stir to combine.

2. Fill three food containers with ½ cup each of the rice mixture. Top with ¾ of a rotisserie chicken breast, 5 spears of asparagus, and ½ cup snap peas. Sprinkle vegetables with 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds.

Quinoa Shrimp Cocktail

Makes 2 servings (1 serving =1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange)

Ingredients:

1 cup lettuce

¾ cup cocktail shrimp or cooked shrimp

½ cup cooked quinoa

1 chopped green onion

wedge of lime

chopped cilantro

drizzled with vinaigrette

Directions:

1. 1 cup of lettuce.

2. Top with ¾ cup cocktail shrimp (or cooked shrimp), ½ cup quinoa, 1 chopped green onion, as much cilantro as you want, and a wedge of lime. Cover containers and place in fridge.

3. Just before serving drizzle with vinaigrette.

Grilled Turkey Lettuce Wrap

Makes 2 servings (1 serving =

Ingredients:

8 oz. ground turkey half

Salt and Pepper to taste

Any other seasoning as desired (like Paprika)

1 Tomato, sliced

 

Directions:

  1. Divide turkey in half and hape each half into a patty; season with salt and pepper or other spices if desired.
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Cook patties for 3–4 minutes, then flip. Cook for an additional 3–4 minutes, or until patties are no longer pink in the center
  3. Place the turkey burgers on 2 a bed of lettuce, top with 2 tomatoes and drizzle with 1tsp of balsamic vinegar and olive oil RIGHT BEFORE serving

Don’t forget: SHARING IS CARING!!  Share this post on all of your personal social media pages!!  Share it with your friends and co-workers!

AND if you want to do 22 Min Hard Corp with me then don’t forget to send me a message!!

On Facebook you can find me here: https://www.facebook.com/Thisfitlife/