Easy Grilled Chicken

I love my Mom, why? Well besides that fact that she is great, duh. She also likes to buy new kitchen gadgets, pots, pans, you name it. And never uses them! Literally, they sit in a drawer in her kitchen and are never touched. So being the great Mom that she is, she gives those things to meOne of my favorite things she recently gave me is a grill pan. No need to go outside to the BBQ and grill. No need to spend any money on buying a grill. The grill pan makes those great grill marks and imparts that grill taste to any food you cook on it. So easy and so delicious. As you can tell, my two favorite criteria for any recipe.

This grilled chicken recipe calls for a little apricot jam. The best would be to buy a natural sugar free healthy kind. But truth is, you are really using so little that I don’t mind buying the kind with the sugar. Plus I can’t find any other type. My family really enjoys this recipe. The chicken stays moist and gets that great right off the barbecue taste.

Easy Grilled Chicken:
– 1 LB chicken breast, cut into any size you like. Make sure to remove any fat.
– 2 Tb apricot jam
– 1 Tb vinegar, I used apple cider kind.

Mix the vinegar and jam together and then add to the chicken. Let it sit as long as you can in a bowl in the fridge. Can be overnight.

Heat your grill pan. Spray with some Pam. When the pan is hot place the chicken on the grill. Let it sit and cook till that side looks cooked through, then flip over. It should take 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. Be sure you don’t overcook. You don’t want dry chicken. But of course, be sure it is cooked through and not raw on the inside.

That’s all! Now you can enjoy your delicious easy hot off the grill, grilled chicken.
Thanks Mom!

Fit Friday #3

As a mom, getting out to exercise is just not easy. I work from home in the afternoons and have my mornings free. My 2 and 3 year old are in school and I am home with my 8 month old. Sometimes it’s hard to get a workout done with my baby around. When she takes a morning nap I always find something else that needs to get done besides for working out. Then she wakes up and wants some attention and to be held. 
Here is when this awesome workout comes in handy. Why not get a great workout and include your baby in it!
This is another favorite of mine from Well-Girl. The workout went so much faster and was more enjoyable because my baby found it so fun and was laughing away. She didn’t like me doing push-ups or planks over her though. So I did them next to her. And if you don’t have a baby to do this with you can still do this workout and feel the burn!
Now you are officially a super multitasking mama. Getting in exercise and playing with your baby all in one. 
And who knows what else- supper may already be in the oven!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cereal

As you’ve seen, I love my oats. But sometimes i’m not in the mood for the texture of oatmeal and all I want is a bowl of cereal. Problem is, most of the boxed cereals are filled with sugar and preservatives. Then I found this recipe and really enjoyed it. But after I changed the flavor a bit I knew I hit the jackpot! It is so easy and simple and tastes delicious. This is a must try.
And yes, I ate this out of my children’s cereal bowl. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cereal
Adapted from Whole Foods New Body and Fitnessista
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 Tb ground flaxseed
1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder*
pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1 Tb all natural peanut butter
In your bowl mix together all the ingredients. Top with your desired amount of milk and any fruit you like. This goes especially well with some banana slices on top, but I was all out the day I took pictures πŸ™
*If you don’t have protein powder you can use some cocoa powder and sweetener. My protein powder was already sweetened and I used rice milk which was sweet as well so I didn’t need to anything more.
This recipe really helped me get over my cereal craving. This is so good! And to make things go faster in the morning, you can put the dry ingredients into the bowl the night before and in the morning mix in the peanut butter and top with milk. Yum!
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Please comment below and let me know!

Have Your Cookies and Eat them Too

My two year old is a chocoholic, much like her mother. She is the sort of kid who picks out the chocolate chips from a cookie and throws the cookie away after all the chocolate is gone, not like her mother! Who would throw out a perfectly good cookie!? My daughter it seems. 
Well I think things have finally changed.

Cookies don’t quite come to mind when you think “healthy.” 
But this lady likes her cookies and doesn’t want to feel bad about eating them. After I made this recipe I was so excited. Not only did I really enjoy them, but my kids gobbled them up. Even my chocolate picking daughter. She literally stuffed a whole cookie in her mouth while holding her hand out for another one. Meanwhile, I am getting tons of mommy points because my kids think i’m giving them a treat. 
To me, yes, they still are treats. There are chocolate chips in them, but compare them to your regular chocolate chip cookie. You won’t believe how much better these are for you. 

Now, one more thing before you read the recipe below. I have this tendency for putting strange ingredients into my recipes. For example I had made a peanut butter mousse recipe which called for blended….zucchini.
Unfortunately the recipe flopped and my husband couldn’t wait to tell everyone about it. What’s even funnier is how the story went. My husband tells my brother, “Rena made peanut butter mousse, but used an ingredient you wouldn’t believe was in it.” To that my brother answered “Zucchini?”  My husband couldn’t believe he guessed right! The next day he said the same to his brother and guess what his brother guessed….Squash! HA! So I guess i’m not so crazy after all? Or maybe I am since that was the most random thing both of them would believe was in it.
No worries there is no zucchini in this recipe, but there is something else that I promise you won’t taste.
Drum roll please……………..Chickpeas. Yes, please do not x out of this screen. Would I steer you wrong?
The chickpeas give these cookies a cookie dough consistency. They are soft and gooey. And made with all natural ingredients. Win/Win if you ask me. Not only are these good for you, but they are naturally sweetened and gluten free.
And if you can’t seem to stomach the idea of eating cookies with chickpeas in them, make them for you kids and don’t feel bad giving out treats.

See top left: Little hand trying to get a cookie!

Secretly Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from chocolatecoveredkatie

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (a little less than a can)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup honey (or xylitol)*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a food processor blend all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides every so often. Keep blending till it is very smooth with no chunks. Mix in the chocolate chips. Since there are no raw eggs in this recipe you can taste the batter as well. 
Place into a container and put in your freezer to firm up for about 15-30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350ΒΊF
Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon place mounds of cookie dough on a baking sheet lined with greased baking paper. Using wet hands push down each mound so the cookies are a bit flat. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Mine took about 13 minutes. Do not try to pick them up straight out of the oven, let them cool first.  I made 24 cookies. Store them in a covered container. They can be stored in the fridge. We like them best at room temperature. 

*The ones in the pictures are made with honey. I’ve made them before with xylitol and they came out great. Probably a bit less gooey than with the honey, but still equally delicious. 
You can also put the whole batter into an 8×8 pan and bake for 30 minutes, but I prefer the cookie feel.
Smooth batter ready to go in the freezer
Before going into the oven

Wanna bite?

Fit Friday #2

When I found out I was expecting my 3rd I told myself I would continue to exercise and eat healthy. What I forgot was that I usually get very bad morning sickness which lasts all day, not just the morning. So for the first 4 months I didn’t move. Then when it finally stopped I no longer had the drive to exercise, so I didn’t.
Fast forward to when baby is born and now not only haven’t I worked out in ages, but I have all this baby weight to lose. So I started from scratch. When I first started, it hurt! I did not want to do it and dreaded when those times would come. I also hated seeing how out of shape I was.You mean I can’t easily do a 1 minute plank? Those push ups look so easy, not!” It was frustrating for me. So I started slow. And after time I got better and better. And as we speak I am still trying to improve.

But, getting out to a gym or even setting aside 30 minutes to work out is not easy. The good news is that you don’t need to go to a gym or set aside 30 minutes to exercise.
You can do short 10 minute workouts that will really change your body as long as you push yourself. You need to give it your all.


On the days that I don’t find time to do my usual workout I try to commit to doing:

10 girl push-ups (on your knees)
20 squats
3, 10 second planks
Do however many you can handle. You can also do 5 squats here and 5 push-ups there. Do it whenever you find time.

Another way to get more exercise in would be to walk more. Park further away from the store you are going to. Get off the bus one or two stops early. The more you walk the stronger your body will get and you will eventually find you have more stamina as well.

Here is a great idea I recently found.
Who doesn’t need some extra work on their abs!?
I know June is almost over but that doesn’t mean you can’t start today or even continue into July.
You can do just these exercises each day or add them to your regular routine. Either way your body will be benefiting. 
Print out this calendar from Well-Girl and put it on your fridge so you know what to do each day.
    As I said, it’s all about baby steps. If these exercises are hard for you, its totally normal! Over time the more you do them the stronger you will get and the sooner you will have an easier time, not to mention great results!

    Tip Tuesday #2: Don’t Fear the Fat

    All the diets I’ve tried say how bad oil and fat are for you. So I stayed away. To be honest cutting out all that oil really helped. The few occasions that I had something with oil left me feeling gross. My body wasn’t used to it. But, those diets came and went. My weight loss came and went. 
    Then, when I did more research, I realized that adding some healthy fats into your diet is good!
    We need the healthy fats. Yes, I said it. You can include some healthy fats and not feel bad about it. Enjoy it!

    Why? Well, here is how these fats saved me, seriously!
    I was having some major craving issues. Sneaking into my pantry for some chocolate chips or a spoon of peanut butter here and there. It was driving me crazy. I knew I shouldn’t be doing it and that it wasn’t good for me.
    Then I started incorporating some healthy fats into my diet and what do you know, my cravings were gone! Really, I could open my pantry and not have any desire whatsoever to eat chocolate. Crazy, I know!

    So go for it, add that 1/4 of an avocado to your salad (or mash some on a piece of whole wheat toast, its amazing), eat a tablespoon of natural peanut butter, enjoy a recipe that has some coconut or olive oil in it (my two favorite oils). Of course, everything in moderation.
    Like I said, before this amazing idea I was always looking for ways to cut out the fat from any and every recipe. Since I was trying to eat healthy I wanted to eat salads, but every salad dressing recipe called for a cup of sugar and a ton of oil. 
    These days I don’t go fat free on my salad dressings, but if you like to add a lot of dressing you may be getting too much fat into that salad. Especially if you have avocados and nuts in there as well.
    So I started cutting the oil in half in all salad dressing recipes and replacing it with water. So simple and still so tasty.

    Here is my twist on a recipe from the cookbook, It’s All Good

    Delicious Maple Vinaigrette 

    1 Tb Dijon mustard
    3 Tb apple cider vinegar
    2 Tb maple syrup (could also use honey)
    1/4 cup water
    1/4 cup olive oil
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Whisk the first four ingredients together. Then slowly drizzle the olive oil into the bowl while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store in your fridge and use whenever you eat salad.

    This recipe goes especially well when you add avocado to the salad. The cool creamy taste of the avocado goes great with the dressing.

    These days, my favorite salad combo is mixed greens/romaine, avocado cut into cubes, a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and golden raisins. It’s so good! Even my husband* complimented me on it. 
    *We’re talking a meat and potato type of guy.

    Of course after taking these pictures I needed to do a final taste test πŸ™‚

    No more excuses for not eating salads. Try this and you won’t need an excuse.

    Breakfast of Champions

    Breakfast? Who has time for that! Eh, I don’t need breakfast. I’m not hungry now.

    Does this sound like you? Well that’s how I sounded (lol I sound like an infomercial trying to sell you some new cool product right?).
    Scratch that!

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And if you start eating right you will actually look forward to eating it since you’ll be hungry in the morning. More on that another time.
    If you skip breakfast you will most likely get hungry a little later and eat something you shouldn’t be eating or too much food. People think to lose weight we need to starve ourselves. Well, it’s the total opposite. If you aren’t eating enough you won’t lose the weight. Our bodies need nutrients and all that good stuff to keep going and stay strong. And breakfast is the perfect place to start. 
    Imagine you wake up and eat a big piece of leftover chocolate birthday cake. Now, it might feel great then to eat that fattening cake, but give yourself an hour or so and you will feel heavy and have low energy. You want to eat foods in the morning that will help you get going. Help you stay awake. Feel good and feel light. You have a whole day ahead of you. What a shame if you felt weighed down all day because of that stinky piece of chocolate cake.
    Enters my delicious breakfast of champions.
    This breakfast includes one of my favorite superfoods- Flaxseed!

    What’s so good about flaxseeds?

    It has good fats from Omega-3 fatty acids
    High in fiber- which will keep you fuller, longer
    Is a complete protein which means it has every amino acid your body can’t make on its own.

    To get these great benefits you need to grind the whole flaxseeds into flour consistency. I just put a cup or so in my blender and in a few seconds I have a nice amount of flaxseed meal to last a while. Then put it in a sandwich bag and place in your freezer to stay fresh. You can also buy already ground flaxseed.

    Because flaxseed fills you up it is a great thing to have in the morning since you will feel satisfied for a while. I usually have a mid-morning snack, but on the days I have this breakfast I am not usually hungry to even have a snack. What’s funny is, I actually prefer my oatmeal with flaxseed. It tastes so much better and makes it thicker too. Even talking about it makes me crave it! Hey, and if i’m craving things like flaxseed -we’re all good!

    Flaxseed meal mixed with water is also a great egg substitute for many baked good. Just 1 Tb of flaxseed meal mixed with 3 Tb of water. Let it sit till it gets thick and use like you would one egg.
    You can also throw some ground flaxseed into your smoothie or baked goods, but I prefer it most in my:
    Breakfast of Champions Oatmeal

    1/3 cup quick oats 
    2/3 cup boiling water
    1-2 packets of truvia or sweetener of choice
    cinnamon, as many shakes as you like. I put in a lot.
    1 Tb ground flaxseed
    2 Tb raisins or 1/4 cup blueberries
    1/2-1 Tb all natural no sugar peanut butter (optional but very delish)

    Put quick oats in bowl. Add in truvia and cinnamon. Mix together. Pour the boiling water on top and stir. Cover bowl with a plate or just leave to sit for 2 minutes till it get thicker. Add in flaxseed and raisins/blueberries. Mix to combine. Top with some peanut butter. I like to swirl the peanut butter on top.

    You can leave out the fruit and eat any fruit on the side. Sometimes I have it with an apple.

    To add protein to your breakfast you could add one scoop of your favorite protein powder or have with a side of scrambled egg whites.
    You can also make a smaller portion of oats using 1/4 cup dry oats and 1/2 cup boiling water.
    This tastes so good! And really keeps you full for a long time. I love eating this breakfast on the days I workout since it gives me a ton of energy. And who doesn’t need some more energy in the morning!

    See this cute spoon I eat my oatmeal with! I love eating it with a small spoon. It helps me take my time and make my oatmeal last a while. Not to mention the 1/3 cup of dry oats get much bigger when cooked so you feel like you are eating a ton.

    Give this recipe a try and let me know how it went!

    Fit Friday #1

    Every so often, on Friday, I will be posting different workouts and ideas to get you moving and fit!

    When I was a teenager I don’t think I ever worked out. I ate what I wanted and didn’t gain much weight. I was average weight. Not super skinny, but not overweight. Don’t get me wrong, I was not an athletic person at all. I wasn’t on any sports teams, although I did try out for basketball and got on the call back list! Okay okay, everyone got on the call back listBut I did enjoy music. So I put music on in my room and would dance dance dance while secretly hoping no one would walk in and catch me dancing like a fool. I did this for fun, but thinking back I now realize that it was all that dancing that kept me in shape.

    Too bad dancing isn’t going to work for me now. Thankfully after having my adorable children my body needs more to stay in shape. And I am up for the challenge. I mean, I gave birth to them! If I can handle that, I can handle anything (Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to scare any new pregnant ladies out there. Giving birth is super easy and relaxing, almost like a mini vacation! Why else would I have had 3 children in 3 years!).


    So for those of you first starting out or haven’t worked out in a long time, I suggest dancing! You can put on any music you like and dance however you like since no one is watching you or if you have kids, dance with them. If you want to do more structured dance I recommend watching some videos from Billy Blanks Jr. Here is a link to YouTube with great short videos. Click Here
    They also have a new DVD out that I might try. Just something fun to change up your workout.  Check it out 

    No matter what, have fun!

    Flavorful Blackened Chicken

    I am always on the lookout for a new way to cook chicken. After seeing this idea I knew I had to try it. I changed it to make it work for my family and I got rave reviews! It really has great flavor. If you can, it is much healthier to take the skin off before eating it. Although, the skin is amazing as it has all the spices on it. But no worries, the flavor goes all the way through so if you do take the skin off, you won’t miss out!

    The recipe calls to put hot bricks wrapped in foil on top of the chicken while in the pan. I don’t have that easily accessible and I was in no way going to attempt to do that. I burn myself way to quickly. So I figured i’d put a heavy pot on top instead. Hmm…what do I have that is heavy enough. Aha! My crock-pot! After putting some foil under the crock-pot I placed it on top of the chicken and it worked perfectly.

    What’s amazing about this recipe is that the chicken does not dry out. Even the white meat (which my husband thinks is usually dry) got a thumbs up! It was falling off the bone delicious.

    Blackened Chicken Adapted from Ceramic Canvas
    One whole chicken, cut up with skin on
    2 Tb olive oil
    3 Tb sweet paprika
    3 Tb turmeric
    2 Tb cumin
    2 tsp onion powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 Tb apple cider vinegar, or any kind
    5 Tb honey

    Place everything but the chicken into a large ziplock bag. Shake to combine. Then add the chicken pieces. Mix so that all the chicken is covered with the marinade. Put the bag into the fridge and let sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

    In a large fry pan add 1 Tb of olive oil. Heat till oil is hot. Then carefully take each piece of chicken and put into the pan skin side down. It should sizzle. Take your large foil lined pot/crock-pot and place on top of the chicken. Allow it to cook at medium heat for 15 minutes. When you lift the chicken it should be very dark, if it isn’t yet, keep in pan a little longer.
    Transfer the chicken to a baking dish. The fry pan will have a lot of oil in it and some leftover sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, but leave the oil in the fry pan.
    Bake in the oven another 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

    Enjoy the oo’s and ah’s at your dinner table 

    Tip Tuesday #1: Water

    Every Tuesday I will be sharing a new tip.
    (They will usually not be this long, but this post needs this much info-sorry!)
    This week I will be discussing why water is so important and ways to drink water throughout the day.

    Now, I am not a Dr. I am just sharing with you the things I have learned. It is important that you do your own research as well.

    Why is water important for us:
    It keeps us hydrated. Especially once you start exercising and being more active you need to be sure you hydrate yourself.
    Helps you fight cravings. If you are craving something unhealthy the first thing to do is drink one large glass of water. You will be shocked to see that it does the trick and you no longer crave that food.
    If anyone has stretch marks, water helps them fade. The reason why stretch marks occur is due to the fact that our skin is dry. So when you are pregnant or losing weight it is important to moisturize your body and to drink tons of water to moisturize from the inside out.
    It flushes away harmful toxins from your body.

    Again there are tons of more reasons I am sure, but you can look into that on your own.

    Basically water is GOOD FOR YOU. So drink it!
    Ha, if only it were that simple. C’mon! Water is boring. Tasteless. And it can be really hard to get in your daily amount. The amount of water you should be drinking is usually around 2-3 Liters a day. Or you can take your weight in lbs and half it. Then drink that much of water in ounces. No need to go crazy counting every cup you drink, just follow my tips below and it will be easy to do.

    You can try any or all of these tips and see what works for you.

    1-Before every meal and snack drink one glass of water. Then eat your meal/snack with another glass of water or after you are done eating, drink another glass at the end. So one before and one after. Drinking before a meal will also help you get fuller faster and you will end up eating less than you would have had you not had the water.

    2- Every night before bed fill two bottles (mine are 1.5 Liters each) with water and put them on your kitchen counter. Bring them around with you throughout the day and sip or chug from them. This works well for those of us who are at home most of the day, since dragging around 1.5 liter bottles is not so convenient. I also put one of them in the fridge so I have an option of having cold or room temperature water.

    Side note: Drinking cold water is actually better since your body needs to work to get the water to reach body temperature. I find cold water takes longer to drink and I prefer to chug the water at times so I grab the room temp bottle for that.

    3- This is a great tip I got from Undressed Skeleton blogger Taralynn. Take two bottles that hold 4 cups of water. With a permanent marker mark where each cup ends and put a time. That time is the time you will finish your water amount by. I only use one bottle and I label both sides. When the first 4 cups are done I refill and start over. This is great for those on the go. It’s also great when starting out since it is a smaller amount, but you are still getting in your water.

    4- I don’t remember where I saw this, but if you like to wear bangles its a great idea. Put 8 bangles on one hand. Every time you drink a cup of water move one bangle to the other hand. By the end of the day your other hand should have all the bangles on it. Now you know you drank enough water.

    To get your water down quickly a good idea is to look at the clock while drinking. I tell myself I will stop drinking when the seconds hand gets to 6 or whichever number. You can also count to 10 in your head while drinking.

    Now that we know how to drink the water, we need to make that water taste yummy. First off, once you start you will get used to it and eventually enjoy it. But for now, there are some great ways to make water taste good, naturally.

    Add some sliced cucumbers and lemon. It tastes super refreshing. When I was pregnant with my 3rd I had tons of dizzy spells and had a hard time drinking water. When I tried this, drinking water was much easier to do and my dizzy spells stopped. I call it my “Spa Water.”
    Add a few cubes of watermelon and some fresh mint.

    Add a splash of your favorite fruit juice, just a splash to give it a bit of flavor.
    If you really hate the idea of drinking water as is. You can start by drinking it with some sweetener/flavor like crystal light. I hear they have a new one that uses truvia so that is 100 times better than artificial junk. But again, this is really if you aren’t ready to make the big change to water.

    I challenge you to get in your daily amount of water. This week it will be my challenge. So I hope you join me! 
    I know it sounds funny but at the end of the day when you see that empty water bottle, you feel like you just accomplished something really big- and you did! So drink up and give yourself a pat on the back for it!

    * Stay tuned for a delicious chicken recipe and “Fit Friday!