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!).


Source

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!

How to Prep for a Healthy Week


In order to be sure you are going to be eating well throughout the week you need to put in a plan of action.
The worst thing to do would be not to plan and then when you are hungry just look in your fridge and pull out something that you know you shouldn’t be eating. I have done this so many times. I know it might be the easier thing to do, but believe me it is not good for you. Here are the things to do to prepare for a healthy week:

Step One: Get rid of all the junk in your fridge and pantry.

Yes, even if it is for your kids. As a mother its our job to be sure our children are eating healthy balanced meals. I believe treats are ok some of the time, but giving your kids junk will make their taste buds want that even more. We will be setting our kids up for failure! I have two bins in my pantry. I put them high up so its not so convenient to get to. One has cookies and cracker type of snacks and the other has candy and chocolate. When I feel my children can have these type of treats I go to those bins. But for me NO WAY. The way I stay away from those things is by thinking “C’mon, you’ve had these things a billion times before. You know what they taste like. You don’t need them. You are stronger than this!!” And so I only give those foods to my children. So right now you should have your kitchen nice and clean from all junk, minus the few items of treats for your children. It’s also good to see what foods you already have in your house that you may want to include in your meal plan.

Step Two: Write up a meal plan. 

Now when I say meal plan, I do not mean just for dinner. You need to know what you will be eating for breakfast, snacks, and lunch as well.  I will be doing posts going through the different options you can have for all those meals, so stay tuned. Just be sure you cover all the foods and meals you will be making. This saves you lots of time and money. You will have a shopping list as well so you know you won’t forget anything or over buy.

Step Three: Shop

Go to your favorite grocery and buy all the things on your list. Of course you will see other things and want to buy them, but try to stick to your list. If you do want to buy anything else, just be sure it is truly healthy. Even if the box says “All Natural” it doesn’t mean its actually healthy for you. Sugar is natural! So keep an eye out on those labels.

Step Four: Get Cookin’

I try to cook all my meals on Sunday so that I don’t have much to do the rest of the week. I just warm up the food and serve. 
This is not easy to do. You will for sure get exhausted from this. Being on your feet for a while cooking, washing dishes and then cooking some more could be tough. But it is worth it! Put on some music to make it more enjoyable. Open the windows to get in some fresh air. You don’t need to feel like you are locked up in that kitchen. Enjoy it

Step Five: Pack up all your food in containers or however you like. You can label your items and store them separately or you can put your meals into containers so all you have to do is take out the container labeled “lunch.” 


Step Six: Enjoy your week worth of healthy meals. And not to mention your clean kitchen since you should barely be in there to cook!


Here are some of the things I made for this week. I made some in the morning and the rest will be done at night or if I don’t find time, Monday morning.


Breakfast:


  • Overnight Oats
  • Granola Bars



Lunch:


  • Pre-washed lettuce and cut veggies



  • Sweet potato
  • Salmon
  • Green Beans
  • Cabbage Salad



  • Brown Rice
  • Teriyaki or Orange Chicken
  • Grilled Veggies


*Recipe Below


  • Vegetable Lasagna

  • Veggie Burgers

  • Hard boiled eggs



Super Simple Grilled Veggies:

  • Any vegetables you have. Here I used carrots, eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, and onion. 
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • Little sprinkle of sea salt
Preheat your oven to 375ºF 
Cut your veggies into cubes. Put onto parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Add basil, garlic, and salt. Mix with your hands and make sure the garlic is mixed well into the vegetables
Bake for 1 hour mixing once or twice during the baking.
The veggies will shrink a lot so the more veggies you use, the better.

Dinner:
For dinners I mostly have big salads with a protein. So i’ll put in either the teriyaki/orange chicken or the salmon.

I also make sure I have my salad dressings made.
Fruit is in the fridge already washed. 



Now in terms of foods for your children. Some kids will eat the foods you make for yourself and your husband, but others (ahem, like mine!) will turn their heads to anything but yogurt, cereal, or sandwiches. Do not let this stress you out (totally talking to myself here!) Offer your kids the foods you made and if they don’t want-don’t sweat it. Give them the other usual options. I find that if I eat with them they will end up eating all my food off my plate. The other day my 2 year old ate all my lettuce in my salad- go figure!
And as you see taking these pictures my son decided he likes broccoli. Give it a try and you will be shocked to see the healthy foods your children enjoy.


Do you meal plan? What are some of your favorite foods you have weekly?

No Way That’s Not Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino

The other day after my workout I came home wiped. I only had about half an hour till I needed to get the kids. I needed an energy boost asap. So I made this smoothie and it really helped! I felt great and loved having a sweet treat that was really good for me. 

There are a ton of different opinions whether its good or bad to have coffee after working out. After doing some research I am split. Some say yes, some say no. A wise friend once told me if you search the web “coffee is good after working out” or “coffee is bad after working out” you will get tons of articles for both. The key is to follow what your body tells you. If you drink caffeine after working out and you see you are doing fine, great! Enjoy your coffee after. If you prefer it before your workout do that too. The key is to listen to your body.

I made two recipes for you today. One is with protein powder and the other is without. Some of you may not have protein powder in the house and that’s fine. You can use other staples and still get some protein in your smoothie. Protein keeps me fuller longer and that’s why I love to include it in my smoothies. I also made one version with banana and one without. I don’t think you taste the banana much in the banana version, but if you are really not into banana then you have another option.

Remember, this recipe can be adjusted by you to your liking. Add more coffee if its been a busy day or more sweetner if you like things very sweet.

No Way That’s Not Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino



Protein Powder Version:
5 ice cubes
1/3 cup milk, i used unsweetened almond
1/2 fresh banana
1 tsp coffee
1 tsp cocoa
shake cinnamon
1 scoop chocolate protein powder



Protein Powder Free Version:
5 ice cubes
1/2 cup 1% cottage cheese (I’m telling you, you can’t taste it)
1 tsp instant coffee
1 TB cocoa 
2 packets of stevia. I use truvia.
1/3 cup milk, i used unsweetened almond

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.
Makes one delicious serving.


When I made the protein powder free version I planned on only taking a sip or two since I already had my fill of caffeine for the day. Well, it was so good I ended up almost finishing it!  



Smoothie Making 101

The weather is getting well…. HOT! Picking my kids up from school everyday in this heat seems to take forever. Seriously, they are about 2 blocks away and walking out in that heat is no fun. So for the kiddos I always bring little ice pops to make the walk home go a little smoother. That is of course until they finish it and we still have another block (uphill!) to go. eek!
That’s where my trusty ice cold smoothies come in. They are the perfect way to cool down after getting the kids from school, working out, or when you are just craving something cold and sweet.
Tomorrow, I will be posting one of my million smoothie recipes *exaggerating, but really I have a ton of different recipes.*

http://www.flickr.com/photos/maltman23/396284394/

For today I thought it would be good to give you the low down on making great smoothies.
Here are just some of the different ingredients you can put into your smoothie:

-Any frozen fruit-I buy already frozen blueberries and strawberries. I freeze my own peaches (I buy the ones in the cans when peaches aren’t in season and rinse them off, slice and freeze in bags). Frozen bananas. I prefer fresh bananas in my smoothies. Not sure why, but they have a different taste that I prefer. Pineapple, apples, pears, grapes, oranges, mango etc.


-Any liquid- Unsweetened almond, rice, oat, coconut or soy milk are great options. Water also works well. Skim or 1% milk. Fruit juice such as orange, grape, and my new favorite pomegranate. 


-Ice- If you are using mostly frozen fruit you may not need the ice, but if you like your smoothies thick then add more ice or less liquid.


-Veggies!- Yes, I know what you’re thinking- “Vegetables in a sweet smoothie, is she nuts!?” Well I may be nuts, but its not for this reason. You can sneak so many veggies into your smoothie and you won’t even taste a thing. That is, if you make the smoothie correctly. Lets just say my first attempt wasn’t a hit. You can add a handful or two of fresh spinach or my recent favorite, some frozen spinach. Avocado (technically a fruit, right?) makes smoothies very creamy and adds tons of nutrients. Believe me, you can’t knock it till you try it. I got my husband and my kids to drink up all their smoothie and they had no clue I put spinach in it. *insert evil laugh*


-Superfoods and other random healthy additions- Chia seeds, ground flaxseed, wheat germ, oat bran, old fashioned oats, hemp seeds, Spirulina, nuts, nut butters, and protein powder. 


-Sweeteners and other flavoring- Stevia, honey, agave, coconut nectar, medjool dates, date syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, mint, and coffee. 

This list could probably go on and on, but i’ll leave it at that.
Stay tuned for a delicious healthy smoothie recipe tomorrow!
What smoothie combination do you like or would want to try?

Totally Homemade Lentils & Bruschetta Lunch

It’s a pretty well known dish to those who love Trader Joes. Mix lentils with TJ’s bruschetta sauce and voila! Deliciousness!


Well, where I live we don’t have a TJ’s (gasp!). So I need to improvise. This may not be as fast as mixing two premade things together but it’s still super easy to do.

Here’s what you need:
  • 1 cup brown lentils 
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (the amount here depends on how much sauce you want, but remember it will cook down and make a small amount, so I use as many as I can spare)
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried parsley 
  • Salt and pepper, to taste



  • Step 1: Boil brown lentils in pot of water like you would pasta. Check after 30 minutes to see if lentils are soft. Once they are soft drain water and set aside.



  • Step 2: In a pan heat 2 TB of olive oil. Once oil gets hot add in your garlic and let the garlic cook till it gets dark, not burned, but close to it. Then add in all the cherry tomatoes. Stir and cook uncovered on med/high heat till it starts to get soft. Add parsley, salt, and pepper. Then add a little of the chopped basil. Stir and allow to cook. Every few minutes keep adding the basil and stirring. With a potato masher or the back of your spoon push down on the cherry tomato halves. It will be somewhat smooth, but you want some texture of the tomatoes in it. Keep cooking till the sauce cooks down and tomatoes are soft.



Assemble your meal:

Mix together 1 part lentils with 1 part sauce, or however much you prefer.
I serve this over 1/4-1/2 cup of cooked quinoa.
Top with some chopped fresh basil.
Optional but very good- crumble some feta cheese on top.

I serve this with a big salad on the side. And as you see a large glass of water with a straw. I use a straw a lot since its more fun to drink that way and I tend to get down more water when using it.



I like to eat my grains and protein separate from my salad. That way I feel like I am eating more.
More on that in an upcoming post!

Are there any store produced products that you wish you could make at home? (And healthy of course)