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Friday, April 29, 2016

What's up? That's what's up!

So back when I was still pregnant with Jack I bought this:

And had big plans to get to it as soon as he was born........or......6 months later. You know what they say? Better late than never!  I have been desperate to recapture the magic of 2011, when I started this blog, when I was doing great with food and started dabbling in the world of jogging (don't believe that I will ever be able to call myself a runner haha!) and I lost 40 lbs and the accountabililty of this blog was a big part of that successful year.  But 2012 came with my husbands surgery and then another pregnancy and a move and a home building project and another move and crazy crazy insane church split and another pregnancy and another baby and even though they were all very huge life changes each and every one of them, they also felt a lot like a lot of excuses.  I knew we were done having kids so at least all those major weight loss interrupters are over but I also know that life will continue to be busy and wild and things will happen and so I needed to get a handle on myself.  I needed to fight for my health and wellness, not just physically but spiritually, emotionally and mentally as well!  So leading up to New Year's resolution season I thought a lot about how to recapture that magic and part of that was getting back into the swing of things on my blog but I didn't want to make promises I didn't intend to keep.  So I decided to keep it under wraps for a bit.

Starting the week after New Years I began Jillian's exercise program and tomorrow marks the end of 16 weeks that I have been at this! I ended up stretching the 12 weeks out due to flu, my daughters surgery, spring break etc.  But overall for the last 16 weeks I have logged my food on my fitness pal very nearly every day, even when I had influenza! I have also been exercising 6 days a week (somedays twice!) and have felt myself get stronger and stronger and break barriers.  I have resumed the couch to 5k plan again and fallen back in love with how it feels to jog.  I am cooking healthier food for my family again and they have all been so supportive.  My kids need this too!

Mid february I was invited to join an accountability group my beautiful friend Sara has started as she started her own journey in November and is now a Beachbody coach and doing so amazing. She inspires me every single day! I have loved the accountability of talking about what you are eating and what you are doing for exercise and it has helped push me to be better!! Her facebook page is Stronger Everyday With Sara and you should like her page here.  You may even get me a referral point or two!

As of this morning I have lost 22 lbs (my lucky number!!!) so if I can repeat these 4 months like 5 more times I may find myself where I want to be! And even though I am still struggling with the mirror, with how I look in clothes, or those weeks that go by when the scale refuses to budge despite all my best efforts, with how far away my goal is, with the food temptations all around me and on and on, I know there are also about a hundred other tiny little changes and victories I have found; how I can walk up stairs without being out of breath (yeah that struggle was real!), how I absolutely MAKE TIME to exercise even when I am busy or exhausted, how the tiredness comes in handy to get me to go to bed earlier but yet during the day I have much more energy for chasing two little ones around, how proud of me my husband is and on and on.  I'm glad to be on this journey and make it last.  I will never give up.  And so I plan to work on this blog more regularly, it is still a little difficult to do it as often as I would like, I guess with 4 kids I am sort of busy or something!?  I hope those of you who used to cheer me on back then will dust off my blog and come back to cheering me on.  Your support means a lot to me as well. 

My brother in law Jeff is king of the catch phrases in our family.  I'll never forget the year of "Your heads a shell" after Tommy boy came out! When Sophie was about 2 he tried to teach her to reply to "what's up" with "That's what's up!" and I stumbled across a cute video of her the other day from when she finally learned it!  I have been trying to think of how and when to unveil you of my new way of life and I finally felt like all the pieces came together this week, it was the end of the first time through Jillian's torturous program, the scale had been on a standstill for 3 weeks and finally budged and it brought me to 22lbs which is my favorite number and an even 4 months of me doing this transformation.  So here it is, the new me, what's up with me? That's what's up!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Superfood Lunch!

Things I learned on Monday: Attempting to blog a recipe which requires some percentage of photography while cooking is purty darn difficult while also serving lunch to a highly emotional and volatile as of late 2 year old and a baby whose favorite impression while in his highchair is that of a cross between a screech owl and a howler monkey if there is even a momentary lapse in food being accessible on his tray.  Bottomline: next time feed them, clean up, then make your food in peace.  Wait, peace? What is this peace you speak of? That reminds me, I love the show Masterchef (I know shocker!) and my oldest really like watching Masterchef Junior with me and it has made her even more adventurous in trying foods so I say bring it on.  Anyways I was watching an episode of the adult version and they were having a "pressure test" and they had a set time limit to cook a meal and were scurrying around like wild people to get it done.  And while I was watching it I too was cooking dinner, I too had a deadline as Craig had a meeting, and as I was zooming around I was dodging a baby who often will crawl up to my feet and bite down hard, just to, you know get my attention! AND a toddler who, well, I mentioned how she is behaving lately! I started laughing quite literally LOL as I pictured Gordon Ramsey giving contestants the ultimate pressure test, when they lift the mystery box...a toddler and a baby who will be climbing all over them and getting into trouble chewing on cords, etc. while they cook.  They have to cook a meal, keep the babies safe, have it delicious enough and healthy enough for the adults and be kid approved and they have 60 minutes...go!!! I still laugh thinking of all those babies under the mystery box lids!!! Go ahead have a good chuckle with me. Of course if you have never watched the show then you are missing out. 

Anyways the POINT IS that sometimes to do all the mom things that we do and even try to excel at certain things we most definitely have to be part mom, part superhero! So what better way to fuel our superhero bodies than with Super Foods!!! I was able to snap a few pictures after all and had a delicious meal, that was vegetarian for those of you into that kind of thing! This recipe has three powerhouse super foods as the stars of the show; spinach, mushrooms and sweet potatoes. Yum, yum, yum.
Horseradish Cheddar Mashed Sweet Potatoes
with Sauteed spinach and mushrooms
1 med sweet potato
1 portabello mushroom cap
1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Smidge of chicken stock, milk or half and half if needed
A couple of croutons for garnish
Peel and coarsely chop sweet potato and place in pot of boiling water until soft. Drain.  Add dash of milk, half/half or stock if needed. (Mine did not) Melt cheese into potatoes and mix in horseradish, salt and pepper, and paprika. (Sorry I didn't get any pics of this part!
Then in a separate skillet add oil and chopped mushrooms.

Saute on high heat until they begin to shrink down. 
Then in a few handfuls of spinach, you could also substitute kale (another super food!). Add the minced garlic, be sure to keep stirring as burnt garlic is bad bad bad!
Season with thyme and nutmeg
Plate veges over potatoes and garnish with a couple of crushed croutons which added a nice little crunch.
It was very yummy!!! And satisfying. The whole thing was only 348 calories but very filling, I could only eat about 2/3 of it! I shared with my Boo
Baby Approved!!!
 As I type this, the monster, er I mean toddler, is having another very VERY rough day.  It's hard being two! So I better go dust off my cape and find my super powers so we can make it through the day and keep the city safe from destruction!!! Good luck to all cooking with little ones underfoot, you are Super, you can do it!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Jumpin' Jar Salads!!!

About as long as Pinterest has been in existence or at least as long as I joined it anyways, I have wanted to start making mason jar salads, so this week I decided no time like the present! Here are the first 4 I have concocted and they were all fabulous! I may be sending a bunch of these your way in the next few months! I bought a rotisserie and chopped it up to use for these. Ideally it would maybe a little more variety but I used chicken for all these this week.  All the salads which are packed with produce ended up being between 200-300 calories and were super filling! First up....

Red White and Blue Berry Chicken Jar Salad

Layers bottom to top:
Homemade Greek Yogurt Poppyseed dressing - 2 Tbsp
4 chopped strawberries
3 Tbsp chopped chicken
2 Tbsp crumbled feta
1/4 cup blueberries
1 cup romaine lettuce
1 Tbsp almonds
263 calories per jar
Homemade Poppyseed Dressing
1/4 sweet onion
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp poppy seeds
salt and pepper to taste

Southwest Jar Salad with Avocado Cilantro Yogurt Dressing

Layer from bottom up:
Avocado Cilantro Yogurt Dressing - Tbsp
Black beans - 3 Tbsp
Corn - 3 Tbsp
Chopped tomatoes - 3 Tbsp
Chopped orange bell pepper - 2 Tbsp
Chopped rotisserie chicken - 3 Tbsp
Chopped Avocado - 2 Tbsp
Chopped cilantro and green onion - Tbsp ea
Chopped Romaine - 1 cup
4 Tortilla Chips
(my kids had a sprinkle of shredded cheese - totally not necessary)
291 calories per jar

I love that these salads offer portion control by the confines of the jar but are such a large filling spread on your plate!
Also my magic bullet has been getting some action making these homemade dressings
Avocado Cilantro Yogurt Dressing:
1/2 avocado
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
handful cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 sweet onion
salt pepper garlic salt to taste
3 Tbsp milk
2-3 Tbsp olive oil (I did 2 to save calories but it was thick dressing)
Apple Cherry Chicken Jar Salad
Layer bottom to top:
3 Tbsp Homemade Poppyseed Yogurt dressing
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/3 chopped apple
3 Tbsp chopped chicken
2 Tbsp dried cherries
3 Tbsp chopped green onion
1 Tbsp shaved parmesan
1 cup baby spinach
1 Tbsp pine nuts
295 calories


My oldest is going crazy for these salads, she wants me to pack them for school now! Probably won't do glass though!

Seriously eating this at work makes me so cheery!!

Peanut Ginger Jar Salad
Layer bottom to top:
Peanut Ginger Dressing - 2 Tbsp
Broccoli/Carrot/Purple cabbage coleslaw 1/4 cup
Sugar snap peas roughly chopped - 5 peas
Red bell pepper chopped - 1/4 cup
Green onion - 3 Tbsp
Cilantro - 3 Tbsp
Chopped Chicken 3 Tbsp
Cooked vermicelli noodles - 1/3 cup
Baby spinach 2/3 cup
Honey roasted peanuts - 1 Tbsp
302 calories per jar
This was such a colorful beautiful plate!!!! The salads this week were all incredible but this one got voted #1!
Don't have a picture of just the dressing for this one but the recipe:
Peanut Ginger dressing
3 Tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp peanut butter
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced/pureed ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lime juice
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp siracha (didn't do because of kids but I added a pinch of red pepper flakes to adults salad dressing)
There you go, 4 delicious salad recipes just for you!  Even though it is snowing this spring break here in bleak Michigan, I have sunshine and spring in my heart with all of these colorful produce packed recipes! Feeling great! And today is another important holiday in this house so I'll leave you with this greeting:


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Easter Leftovers Makeover

So the week of Easter we had like crazy amounts of eggs; hardboiled, egg salad, over easy, scrambled....eggs eggs eggs.  Plus I got sent home with left over honey baked ham on Easter.  I needed to clean out some of the random stuff in the fridge so I did this weird trick I do sometimes where I type in random ingredients and see if the internet can incorporate them all or at least give me an idea that I can roll with.  So I found a really cool recipe that I modified and you can call it Easter Leftovers Hash.  I never knew this would be so good and that I would be blogging it so I didn't take very many pictures.  Here's how it went:

Easter Leftovers Hash

Sweet potatoes diced
Bell peppers diced
Leftover ham diced (could substitute bacon)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp Mrs Dash Fiesta Lime
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 black pepper
1 tsp lime juice
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped Avocado 
Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
Diced tomatoes
Shredded Cheese (I honestly don't think we even added this!)
4-5 large eggs

Saute in large skillet (that can go in oven) peppers, sweet potatoes and if you want onion in a little oil and garlic 7-10 min until potatoes are starting to soften, add cooked ham (or bacon) and spices. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir in cheese. Make indentations with the back of the spoon in potato mixture and crack an egg into each indentation. Place skillet into oven 10-15 min until whites of eggs set (depending on how you like your eggs).  Garnish with combo of cilantro, avocado, greek yogurt and diced tomatoes with dash of lime juice.  Transferring the eggs to the plates was a little tricky. It was flavorful and delicious! I wish I could have added more chili powder but I wanted the kids to eat it but a little bit of heat counteracted the sweetness of the honey baked ham well.  It was really really good! And we often eat breakfast for dinner so this was a fun new twist! Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A delightful spring salad

Hey everybody!!! Long time no blog! I have a lot on my plate with 4 crazy busy kids and it's practically impossible to wrap my mind around the fact that before I know it Jack will be one!!! I have had a few things I wanted to share with you all the last few months so I am going to take baby steps back into the blogging pool and share a delicious recipe with you.  I have been making this for years and made it again this Easter in an effort to make sure I had something healthy and delicious I volunteered to bring the vegetable.  This is photocopied out of a cookbook, I got it from my mom YEARS ago but I don't even know what cookbook it is from to give credit! I of course always tweek things a little because I am always bad about leaving things alone.

Wild Rice Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
1 cup chicken broth
1 box of quick cooking wild rice pilaf
4 cups broccoli
1 bundle of asparagus spears cut into 1 inch strips
1 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup chopped or shredded carrots
Basil Vinaigrette
Basil sprigs
Feta cheese
Pine Nuts

Prepare wild rice with chicken broth and butter per directions on the box. Set aside.  Lightly steam both broccoli and asparagus until just tender and let cool.  Combine rice, cooked veges and carrots and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add prepared vinaigrette and toss gently. Garnish with sprigs of basil, more feta and pine nuts. 
Fresh Basil Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
4 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese
4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp italian seasoning

This recipe is seriously yummy! I made a huge double batch and I had lots of leftovers and ate it over the next 3 days! It's a perfect spring recipe, you need to add it to your next menu plan! I will keep it short tonight and leave you with this face, she LOVES broccoli and this salad was a big hit with her!