PSA on Natural Deodorant 

I’m always trying to eat as nutritiously as possible, but it’s equally important to focus on what you’re applying to your skin. Recently, I’ve been more intentional about checking ingredient lists on skin care products. I’ve made a couple of easy swaps by using sunflower oil as moisturizer, and using companies like Honest for sunscreen.

Deodorant is something that’s been on my radar for some time, but I never actually made a switch. I’m never going completely au natural (as in skipping it all together…no thanks), but I have been on a hunt for something more organic and natural. Specifically, one that doesn’t contain aluminum and parabens.

I’ve tried at least 4 or 5 brands and they just DID NOT WORK. I kept seeing and hearing about a brand called Primally Pure. It came highly recommended by many, but I couldn’t justify spending $12 on their deodorant (I’m a frugal shopper).

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Unfortunately, I ended up wasting even more money by trying to find something that worked for under $5 (and failing). Then, I noticed Lexi from Lexis Clean Kitchen, offered a promo code for free a free lip balm with purchase. NOW, it was worth it (I love anything free).
Lip Balm

This one actually works! Really well! Even after teaching 2 HIIT classes at the gym and then working out. I’m so happy with the lavender scented deodorant and the cocoa lip balm smells so yummy!

Deodorant

If you’re looking for a way to easily swap out a toxic beauty product for something better for your ski, start with this deodorant. It’s such an easy swap and I think the benefits are so incredibly worth the $12.

 

Lemon Crumble

You guys. I wanted to bring you a lemon bar flavored protein bite recipes, but if you ever do any experimenting in the kitchen, you know that not every recipe comes out perfectly the first time. And this lemon bar flavored protein bite recipe is just not ready. I won’t give up, though.

Now, because this recipe uses really yummy (and pricey) ingredients, I didn’t want it to go to waste. Therefore, I bring to you, a deconstructed protein ball Lemon Crumble. It’s freaking delicious. If you like lemon.

I’ve been using this stuff on top of my yogurt, oatmeal, pancakes, smoothies, and straight up off of a spoon. I liked it on top of my SIggi’s yogurt SO MUCH, that the next morning for breakfast I did the same thing (with yogurt and strawberries) on top of sourdough toast.

It was perfect. Definitely give it a try!

Hope you like it!

Lemon Crumble

1.25 cups walnuts (or almonds or cashews)

1 cup oats

1 scoop protein powder

3/4 cup coconut flakes (unsweetened)

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 Tb. cashew butter (or almond)

1 tsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. lemon zest

2 Tbs. honey or maple syrup

pinch of Himalayan salt

Blend all of the ingredients together using a food processor. It will not fully form a ball, but keep blending for a couple of minutes until the ingredients start to come together.

“Ball up” the “dough” as best you can. I placed mine into a bowl and pressed down on it.

Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour.

Transfer to a glass jar with a tight seal. You should see that it crumbles and doesn’t stay together. This didn’t last longer than a week but it would easily last a couple of weeks refrigerated.

ENJOY!

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Anniversaries and Almond Milk

Hey hey! Happy Friday! Kevin and I just celebrated TWO anniversaries. The first being our three year wedding anniversary. It’s crazy that it’s already been three years. That day was so special and fun. I’d love to do it all over again. And the honeymoon in Cabo would  be fun to do again also.

Kevin brought home a card and flowers which was a total surprise. He’s not big on mushy gushy romantic stuff, but he sure does pull through and surprise me (swoon).

I feel like every woman loves flowers, right? I’m also a sucker for good cards, in case you were wondering. To celebrate our anniversary, we went to dinner and then a concert (Day Wave at The Riot Room). It was seriously a great night!

For dinner, after extensive research on my part, we ended up going to this amazing Italian restaurant in Westport called Ragazza. If you’re in KC and haven’t been, go!

We started at the bar with meatballs and champs for happy hour, but eventually moved onto wine and entrees at a table. The place is so quaint and perfect. Loved it!

I got the Eggplant Parmesan and it was excellent. Kev ate every last bite of his Rigatoni Bolognese. We also shared a side of polenta…which was almost too much since it was so rich. Very good, though. We’ll be back for sure.


The second anniversary we just celebrated was one year of living in Kansas City! WHAT!? How has it already been one year!? Amazing! We love it here and have had so much fun exploring the city and making this place home. It’s a very special city, that’s for sure. The KC folk have been very welcoming.

So now that we’re all caught up, let’s discuss almond milk. Have you ever made it!? It’s so easy. You just need a high speed blender and a nut bag (yes, that’s what it’s called). Oh, and almonds. Duh.

First, soak one cup of almonds in water for 8-12 hours. This sprouts the almonds and softens the skins, which you’re going to remove after they soak. The skins are pretty difficult to digest and contain anti-nutrients that aren’t good for you. If you want to know more about that, google it. This step is optional, but I rarely skip it.

You could also use half almonds, half cashews here. Whatever floats your boat. 

After you soak the almonds, rinse them with fresh water. Then, remove the skins by simply pinching the almonds. It’s easy, but takes some time. Once you see the almond skins removed, it’s like, yeah, those do look like they’d hurt people’s tummies! They look gross, honestly. Moving on.


Add the peeled almonds to the blender. Add 3 cups water and a couple of dates (if you want it sweetened). If not, just omit the dates. You can also add vanilla, cinnamon, and/or a pinch of salt here. All up to you.
Blend for about a minute. Then, strain the milk through the nut bag by pouring everything from the blender slowly into the nut bag (I can’t say that or type it with a straight face) and squeeze the liquid into a bowl. You’ll seriously look and feel like you’re milking a cow. It’s worth it, though.


I like to squeeze it into a bowl, since it’s wider than the jar and catches the liquid easier. After it’s all squeezed, I pour the almond milk into a Mason jar and store for 4-5 days.

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That’s it! So simple! This almond milk doesn’t have any weird thickening agents or preservatives so if you have a sensitive tummy like me, you should tolerate this just fine (unless you have a nut allergy, in which case, you should not be making this…but you already knew that).

I also dried out the leftover almond “pulp” by baking it in a 200 degree oven for about 2 hours or so. Once it was dried out, I blended it to make almond flour. Score! I’ll use that in some muffins later this week, or maybe to “bread” some chicken.


That’s all folks. I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend. We’re taking it easy tonight. I sense a movie night in the works. We have a busy week ahead with both of our 30th birthdays and our moms are coming out to visit! We can’t wait to see them!

Cuban Sandwich

Hey hey! I’m writing this from the dining room table where the windows are open and the breeze is blowing through the house. So nice. Spring has definitely been beautiful here in Kansas City. It’s not hot and humid enough to be miserable (I’m referring to you, summer). It’s just sunny enough, just warm enough, and I’m not dripping sweat the moment I step out the door. Love it!

Thanks to the weather, I’ve been able to get back into a running routine, which has been awesome. I love running for many reasons, one of them being the incredible mood boosting endorphins I get from a runner’s high. Thank you, biology.

Something else that has been fun is my father in law, Charlie, is visiting. We’ve been showing him around the city and taking him on little adventures. We took him to Kauffman Stadium for a Royals game the other day. It was a beautiful day for a baseball game!

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It was also the perfect opportunity to make Cuban sandwiches for our pre-game. While Kevin was at summer school one day last week, I showed Charlie one of my favorite movies, Chef. In it they make Cubans out of a food truck. Have you ever had one? They’re so good. It’s also a really good movie. If you haven’t watched it, I totally recommend it.

Chef

I also remember watching Bobby Flay make Cubans on the Food Network about 10 years ago. I was with my mom and literally minutes after the show ended we hopped in the car, bought everything we needed, and made Cubans for dinner. So fun! 

It was fun to do that again, but this time for Kevin and Charlie! They were SO good, and pretty darn easy, so here’s the recipe (if you can call it that). Go make them this weekend! You won’t be disappointed. If you don’t know what it is- it’s just a really good sandwich that comes loaded with pork, pickles and mustard. Oh, and cheese. Duh.

Kevin
First, you’ll need some butter, dijon mustard, pickles, deli ham, hoagie rolls, and provolone cheese. I like this ham because it’s nitrate free and these hoagies were BOMB.

Then, you’ll need some pork. I used my slow cooker…because why would I slave over the oven when the crockpot can do all the work for me!? I marinated a pork sirloin overnight. I usually make my pork out of shoulder or butt, but the sirloin was much cheaper (hey, teacher salary). Here is a recipe that you could try. I usually use the one from Juli Bauer’s Paleo Cookbook. Or I just throw whatever I can together and make it taste good.

Once the pork is done, its’ mostly just assembly. Slice the hoagies in half horizontally, slather dijon mustard on both sides and then start piling things together in this order deli ham, pork, pickles, and provolone cheese. Once the goods are piled up, put the other half of the hoagie on top and give it a little smoosh.

If you have a panini grill, lather both sides of the sandwich with butter and grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden brown. If you don’t have a panini grill, that’s okay (I don’t either). Instead, I put butter in the skillet and then the sandwich. I used a basting brush to brush melted butter on top, too. Then, I do the work of the panini maker by smooshing the sandwich down with something heavy (like a cast iron skillet) or just with your spatula. I went a little rogue here and added some garlic powder, onion powder and salt onto the top of the sandwich (just a little for flavor, don’t overdo it). Do NOT get stingy with the butter, though. Like, seriously. Nobody has to know how much butter goes onto this thing.

Flip it a couple of times to make sure the cheese melts without burning the bread. Adjust the heat accordingly. Eat right away or pack for a picnic! When these puppies were done, I wrapped them in foil individually and packed them up for our baseball game. They held together well and were a hit. The boys ate them again the next night for dinner!

Enjoy!

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5 Things I’m Happy I’ve done

Last week I shared 5 meal prep tips and today I want to share 5 things I’m happy I have done in life. I like the 5 things theme because it keeps me organized.

So, here are 5 things I’m glad I have done in life. In chronological order, not in order of importance. Number 4 is the most important, which is funny because 4 is our lucky number!

1. Travel to Europe alone– When I was in my early twenties I saved up a bunch of money to go to Europe. None of my friends at that time could go with, but because I had spent the time and dedication saving the money, I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. A friend of mine told me about a tour guide group for 18-32 year olds (interesting cut-off) that travels around in comfy busses (and stays in hotels…I’m not about to sleep in a bus for two weeks). The tour included some planned excursions, some free time, some free food and drinks, and a great guide who knew the history about every place we visited. It was awesome.

Landing in Amsterdam alone was a pretty great experience. I was nervous, but excited. I remember getting there and thinking, okay, this is on me now. I have to plan how to get where I want to go, who I should be talking to, what I should be doing, all in another country. It was liberating. I had lived on my own and in other cities, but it was different for me since I was in another country. I met up with my group that evening and I was able to visit multiple countries and build so many memories with great people. My roommate from the trip actually lives here in Kansas City. She’s a teacher too so they roomed us together. If that isn’t the universe foreshadowing then I don’t know what is.

Anyway, moral of the story is, I became so much more confident in who I am as a person. And I have so many memories and experiences from that trip that I never would have if I didn’t take a leap and do what I wanted to do.

2. Destination bachelorette parties– I have had he honor of attending a handful of bachelorette parties in other cities, some in other states, and I am so glad I said YES to these. It’s so much fun getting a big group of girls together from all over and celebrating your mutual friend. It’s even more fun when you’re in a new city and get to explore!

It’s crazy because even if you all don’t know each other, you know the bride. And if you know and care about the bride, there’s enough in common there to have great conversations and experiences. Don’t let money or time stop you from putting everything on hold for a few days. It’s literally one of the best decisions I’ve made because it was that much fun. And I’ve met new friends along the way! You can’t beat that!


3. Become a teacher– This profession is such a roller coaster. Literally, every single year has its ups and downs. No day is ever the same. We are teachers, we are counselors, we are nurses, we are moms (or dads), we are event planners, we are paper pushers, and we are much, much more. The amount of hats we wear in a single day is almost laughable. Almost. In all honesty, I have come home to Kevin multiple times saying I don’t want to do this anymore.

“The job is too hard and the pay is too little.” But then we get to summer break and I can take a breath again. Because that’s literally what summer is. It’s a break so that teachers can gear up and do it all over again with a whole new set of little humans who need you. It’s a break from the emotional weight of making sure your students are safe, happy, engaged, loved, and taken care of ALL at the same time. 20+ kids all with different needs, all at different academic/social/emotional capabilities (every minute, of every school day). It’s exhausting. (Side note: I’m not saying other professions aren’t tiring and don’t deserve summer breaks…I felt the need to clarify that).

It all becomes worth it, though, when they have that AHA moment. Or, when they tell you their favorite part of the year (which is often a small moment that you didn’t realize would have such an impact). It becomes worth it when you look at the beginning of the year data and compare it to the end of the year data, which is physical evidence of the learning that has taken place. It becomes worth it when on the night of the last day of school, you get parent emails thanking you because you were “that teacher” for their child. The one they’ll never forget because you made them feel special.

Okay, I’m going to stop now before I make myself cry. My point is, I whine and I complain and I cry to Kevin sometimes, but I love my students and I love my job. And I love my summer break. And I’m glad I’m a teacher.

4. Date/marry Kevin– This was really hard at first! Not because he isn’t a catch, he’s the best catch. Kevin and I were legit FRIENDS. Like, get coffee and chat about life friends. Go out for lunch friends. Let me tell you, though, he broke the friend zone barrier into two pieces like Hulk and I’m so grateful for that. I look back at our lives together as friends and I’m just in awe of the way life unfolded for us.

The timing wasn’t right for many reasons throughout our life (like on the bus in 6th grade when we decided we should just be friends, so we wouldn’t ruin our friendship), but he was still always right there. When the timing was right, it was right. That’s not to say it was EASY because there was a lot of learning that took place through trial and error. But, here we are! We’re married! And happy! I actually did marry my best friend and every single day I love him more and more. I am forever grateful for the way things worked out for us. Marrying him has by far been the best decision I have ever made.

5. Move to another state- This one is obviously the most recent decision. Look, I miss my people really, really bad. I miss my mom. I miss my friends. I miss being able to just drive to SF or Tahoe whenever I want to. But those things aren’t gone forever. They just take a little bit more work to make happen. I recently heard a quote, “Those who matter, don’t mind. And those who mind, don’t matter.” Our friends and family who care about us miss us, but they are genuinely supportive of this move.

Moving to KC was a great decision for Kevin and I for many reasons. Our lives are coming together here in a way that weren’t going to come together in California for a very long time. Right now this phase in our life is incredible. We’re exploring a new city,  traveling to others, making new friends, building a home together and building memories of our own. It’s a pretty grand adventure, but I wouldn’t choose to be on it with anyone else.

 

 

5 Meal Prep Tips

Hi all! The last couple of weekends I’ve been super diligent about meal prepping and I thought I’d share some tips. I truly believe that if you want to be successful in changing your diet, you need to be prepared. It’s HARD to change routines and habits, therefore it’s VERY easy to fall back into those unhealthy routines and habits the moment you’re unprepared (aka 3pm hunger strike, nothing to eat but chips and salsaaaaa).

I go in and out of meal prepping. I get into a good swing of things, and then I stop. I recently started again so I can keep track of what I’m eating, how it’s making me feel, etc.  Now I realize how helpful it is and really look forward to continuing the routine. It might work for you, and it might not. But, it’s worth a try!

So here you are! Meal prep advice a la muah.

1. Before you even prep the food- prep a menu. I’m talking full on menu for the week. If you only eat three meals, great, plan them out. If you eat 3 meals and a snack, great, plan them out. Eat out a lot? Try to at least have breakfast and snacks written out. 

2. Look through ads for sales. I actually do this simultaneously while planning a menu, so I can see what’s on sale and plan accordingly. If I want chicken and turkey for the week but see that pork shoulder is on sale, you best believe I’m switching out one of my proteins for carnitas! Same goes for fruit and veggies- I buy what looks good and is on sale. The other day I had zoodles on the menu but the zucchini was TINY, so I picked up a spaghetti squash instead. It helps spice things up, too, by trying new produce! If you’re like me and have food sensitivities, stick to what you know you can eat and keep variety in your life by making different dishes with those same veggies (more on that another time).

3. Buy in bulk- meat should definitely be purchased in bulk and what you’re not using right away can be frozen. I get mine from Sams Club or Costco. I also buy oats, rice, and nuts in bulk from Sprouts. Other items you might not think about picking up from bulk bins are Himalayan salt, nutritional yeast, dark chocolate chips, coconut flakes, spices, etc.  I make granola weekly (to top smoothies, yogurt bowls, and snack on plain) and it uses ingredients all from the bulk bin. The money you save here can really add up!


4. When you get home, get organized immediately. For example, I chop the bottoms off the asparagus and celery and put them in mason jars with water. This helps keep them fresh for longer. I’ll chop veggies and bag them in individual portions for snacks and lunches. Kev gets fresh carrots, bell peppers or edamame. I do everything roasted since I don’t do well with raw veggies. I actually do pretty well with jicama though, so I’ve been snacking on that lately! Yum!



I made a meatloaf with the relish you see here and boy was it good! I actually omitted the bacon and cheese…and subbed ground turkey for the beef. Basically I got rid of the good stuff (I’m watching fat intake, though). It was still so delicious! Recipe link is below!

5. Make meal prep work for you! If that means it’s a Monday evening, fine. Sunday afternoon? Great. If you want this to stick, whether it’s for a couple weeks or a month, you’re going to have to make it fit into your life. “They” say that if you attach something you want to accomplish to something you already do, it becomes a habit more easily. For example, attach the act of flossing to brushing your teeth every night. If you already brush your teeth, if you can now floss at the same time, and BAM it becomes a habit. I already grocery shop on Sundays so why not meal prep right when I get home!? Which is what I do! After I’ve gotten organized, I chop veggies and roast them. While they’re roasting, I cook up my protein and portion everything out. I also take this time to prep smoothie bags for breakfast (ziplock baggies with all the fruit and veggies that go into my smoothies- just dump it into the blender with cashew/almond milk and blend) and I bake muffins for a grab and go snack/post-workout.

I can’t tell you how much easier it is during the week to have food prepped! It saves time and energy and saves me from making poor choices when I get home from work.

Some of my staples the last two weeks have been:

Breakfast (and post workout snacks)- egg muffins, regular muffins, yogurt parfaits, RX Bars, oatmeal and smoothies

Lunch- turkey burgers or chicken with green beans and sweet potatoes- both roasted, some sort of a buddah bowl, or leftovers (easy!)

Snacks- roasted carrots and almond butter, protein bites, hard boiled eggs, turkey wrapped around a pickle slice (don’t knock it ’till you try it), or a handful of nuts

Dinner- zoodles and sauce (sometimes with meat, sometimes not), tacos (chicken or ground turkey), meatloaf with veggies, lettuce wraps, and homemade pizza (not a healthy version but so good- #balance amiright!? Pizza for life 🙌🏼)

Turkey Two Ways

Well, hello there! It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to write. A lot has been going on actually, but it’s starting to wind down (did someone say wine down?). We only have 5 days left of school and then it’s time for summer vacation. AKA one of the perks of being a teacher. AKA one of the perks to getting paid diddly squat. I do love my job, though. Teaching is never dull, that’s for sure 🙂

I plan to use this summer to relax, read, cook, sip coffee in bed, workout at 9am, catch a tan (I’m so pale), go to the movies, take Chief for river walks, work on the house (which we’re loving by the way), and also…start my masters. So basically, write a lot of essays. I’m actually very excited! I love being a student. I’ll be getting a masters in education with an emphasis in becoming a reading specialist, which is my jam.

Also new, I’ve been taking baby steps towards a personal goal of mine to teach group fitness classes- like bootcamp and HIIT. Stay tuned for more, but I’ve recently become certified. My hope is to teach at the gym I workout at (it’s amazing!) and maybe start some summer bootcamps in the park! Fun, right!?

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Let’s see, what else is new? I start a new teaching position in August. Instead of teaching 4th grade, I’ll be teaching 8th grade English Language Arts. I’m feeling so many different emotions about the switch, but overall I’m very excited. I can’t wait to teach just ONE subject, and my favorite one to boot. I can’t wait to build relationships with students at such an impressionable age. Also, a side perk, my school is just 10 minutes from my house. This shaves 15 minutes off my commute each way- yay 🙌🏼

Okay, so dinner this week was so easy and I want to share! I buy ground turkey from Costco because it comes in 2 packs (each with 2 lbs. of turkey). Usually I love this because it allows me to meal prep lunches and make dinner! This week I mixed it up and meal prepped chicken, sweet potatoes and green beans for lunch and used the 2 lbs. of turkey to make dinner for the week. But I made the turkey TWO different ways. Booyah for variety 👊🏼 The spice of life!

I realize as I’m writing this that literally thousands of people have probably already done this using the turkey from Costco, and that I probably shouldn’t feel as accomplished as I do (or did). But then again, I still feel like I nailed it. Especially because the meat was husband approved (winning).

Start by chopping the bell pepper and onion and splitting it into two piles- you’ll use one pile for the taco meat, and one for the lettuce wrap meat.

Sautee one of the onion and bell pepper piles until soft and then add 1/2 the turkey (1 lb.). After it’s browned and cooked through,  add a couple tablespoons of this seasoning (I like to make it ahead and I make extra so I always have it on hand).

I also add a little vegetable broth here (with the seasoning) and let it simmer down. This helps keep the turkey from drying out and adds flavor. Bam- dinner for the night is done. Leftovers can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner the next day.

We ate tacos with on Tuesday, which were delicious. We also ate them on Wednesday, but since the power was out when I was starving for dinner I ate cold tacos. Surprisingly, it wasn’t awful. Literally, not even 7 minutes after I finished eating said cold tacos, the power came back on. Go figure.


Next up, for the lettuce wraps, you’ll need the following:

  1. 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  2. 1/2 red onion, chopped
  3. 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  4. 2 Tb. hoisin sauce
  5. 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  6. sprinle of garlic powder
  7. 1/2 cup thawed and shelled edamame
  8. 3 scallions, chopped
  9. Cilantro for garnish
  10. Lettuce or tortillas for wraps
Throw the other pile of onion and pepper into the pan and sautee until soft (I use a coconut oil spray and some broth). Next, add the meat and brown until cooked through (is this sounding familiar).
Add the hoisin, vinegar, garlic powder, 1/2 the scallions and edamame. Voila! You have turkey for lettuce wraps now! I ate mine with zoodles and Kev had his as lettuce wraps (lettuce kills me- it’s the devil as far as I’m concerned). I ate the rest today for lunch in a GF tortilla wrap. I like to use 1/2 the scallions and some cilantro as a garnish. They make everything taste better and look prettier! It was so good that I forgot to take a picture, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.
P.S. If you’re wondering what the latest is on the vegan situation, it’s clearly not happening (see above turkey recipes). My stomach can only handle so many veggies (literally at this point I’m down to like 3 or 4 veggies that I can tolerate and ONLY IF they’re cooked). So, I eat meat. And cheese. In moderation. That’s the update on the veggie thing because I know you all were dying to know. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat as many of those darn veggies as I can! But I had to add meat for substance and sustainability.

Xoxo

Ultimate Soup and Sammy

Did you know that yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Day!? I happen to be married to the 2nd biggest fan of grilled cheese sandwiches (I’m the first). Right now I’m not eating much gluten or dairy so I whipped up a mean grilled cheese with BBQ pulled pork for Kevin {food is my love language}. It was the perfect match for some tomato soup I made the other day.

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The kids at my school get free and reduced lunch and with that comes a couple of afternoon snacks. When the snack is strawberries, or carrots, or pineapple- nothing is leftover.

But when it’s raw beets or sweet potatoes or cherry tomatoes- there’s always A TON left. Being a fan of food, I take whatever is leftover home and find a recipe to make. When I was left with a ton of beets, I made these fritters and ate them throughout the week {over greens, with eggs, dipped in tahini sauce, plain}….SO GOOD!

Anyway, last week the abundant veggie was cherry tomatoes. I had no other choice but to make one of two things- spaghetti sauce or tomato soup. I went with the latter and I’m so glad I did. I looked over a few recipes for tomato soup but nothing really screamed MAKE ME! So, I just went with my gut and through it together. It worked!
I roasted all the cherry tomatoes, a red onion (large chopped pieces) and a heaping tablespoon of garlic onto a sheet pan. Roasted them in a 425 degree oven with a bunch of olive oil (don’t be shy) for about 30 minutes. They weren’t quite as caramelized as I wanted, so I turned up the heat to 450 for another 5-10 minutes and took them out when they looked like this…

Next, these little guys went into my Vitamix {thanks for the gift, mom} where they were greeted with a whole carton of beef broth (unsalted). I also ended up throwing in 2 whole roasted carrots I had left in the refrigerator. I thought the flavors would blend well. I tossed in some salt and pepper and blended until smooth.

I then lived vicariously through Kevin while he ate his BBQ pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich. It was gooey and sweet and savory and perfectly browned (#jelly). It’s super easy and quick to make. I use french bread slices. I used a few slices of raw cheddar and topped it with the BBQ pulled pork before squishing it with the other slice of bread. I squished it because it was quite thick. The bread needed to be squished. I cooked it on a pan that was hot and smothered with butter {yum}. Cook until browned and delish.

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I think I’ll do a post on my pulled pork because it’s something we use all the time. We mostly use it for carnitas (as seen in my salad below). But ever once in a while I’ll mix it up with some BBQ sauce for Kev.

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Also, if you’re looking for dessert…

These quite possibly could be the best cookies of all time. Watch the time closely because they’re best when just browned (aka not TOO brown).

Or, if you’re looking for a healthier option, try this Cashew Skillet Cookie out. It’s kind of high in fat, but good fats. And not too high in sugar. When I baked mine, it didn’t hold too well, so I ended up refrigerating it and eating from the fridge. Then, I ended up rolling the dough up into little balls…kind of like donut holes. It’s still really good.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

California Dreamin’

We just got back from California on Sunday and what an awesome trip! I’m just now starting to feel like I’m getting back on track, but it was so worth it. Five full days of seeing family and friends, eating our favorite foods, and of course indulging in some adult beverages (by some I mean quite a bit).

Going on vacation is always so fun and relaxing. I love traveling. The only downfall of traveling, and it’s sort of a downfall and sort of amazing, is that I splurge while I’m away from my normal routine. I thrive in a routine! I always go into a trip with the mindset that I’ll stay totally on track with my day to day diet. But then I never actually stick to it. I always find some sort of justification, like, “I won’t be in Cali for a while! Do it!” (In n’ Out) or “This is your favorite happy hour, EAT and DRINK, WOMAN!” (Zocalo). And honestly, I don’t regret any of it. I totally believe in just going for it if you want something. I just sometimes wish I could reel it in. Maybe next time 🙂

Now, even though I don’t regret any of my food or drink choices in CA, I can definitely feel the effect they had on my body. I have been sluggish, bloated, un-motivated…but that didn’t stop me from dragging my booty to the gym the last two days to get in some killer workouts. SO hard, but worth it.

I thought I’d compile a list of 5 ways that I like to get back on track after traveling!

Get back to your normal workout routine: I really can’t tell you how helpful it is to get back to your normal workout routine. And if you don’t have a workout routine, start by just going for a walk around the neighborhood. There are so many health benefits that come from just taking a stroll (check some out here). It’s seriously so motivating just to get back into the gym and get after it. I’ve only had two days in the gym after being back but it already motivates me to make better choices this week, so I can perform better in my workouts.

Hydrate: I try to drink a ton of water before traveling, while traveling, and then after traveling. It really helps eliminate any hunger/thirst confusion and hydrates your body after traveling. I like to compare water to gasoline in a car and keeps me drinking throughout the day. It’s like not having enough gas in your car if you’re running low in water intake. This is especially important after flying! This is me going off on a tangent, but I also try to moisturize the heck out of my skin while flying.

Sleep: When you’re tired, sleep. People have different ways of beating jet lag, but I just know that when I get home, I’m always tired. So, I just sleep. At least 7 hours, but the more the merrier.  And it helps. If you don’t sleep you’re more likely to eat carbs and reach for junk because your brain thinks it’ll help wake you up. Usually the carbs and sugar end up backfiring, making you even more tired in the end. Just be aware if you’re truly hungry before you snack. Are you thirsty? Tired? If you’ve had plenty of water, but still fell hungry, have a snack. Reach for a well balanced snack, though, to keep you energized and full until your next meal (like a rice cake with PB or a turkey and avocado wrap…I also like to wrap a pickle in salami and eat it like a taco…don’t judge me).

Veggies: This is kind of a no brainer, but including as many vegetables as you can in your diet will really help you get back on track after being indulgent for a few days. Not only are vegetables hydrating, but they’re full of fiber which should help support digestion. If you’re like me and have a hard time digesting raw veggies, roast them! I put roasted veggies on seriously everything. I eat them with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Roasted carrots, beets, asparagus, zucchini, etc. YUM! Veggies are super high in vitamins and minerals and are anti-inflammatory power houses. Fill up your plate!

Don’t stress: Look, I told myself that I should really cut back on the sugar this week since I went a little hard on my trip home. HOWEVER, if I accidentally have some sugar, I’m not going to beat myself up about it…as long as it’s just a treat- nothing drastic. Sugar is addictive and if you just drop it all together, it’s likely you’ll “relapse” and go hard again. If you slip, recognize it, come up with a if/then plan for next time (if I want to reach for a cookie, then do 15 squats instead), and move on. With that being said, if you feel like you have to completely abstain from something (sugar, alcohol, etc.) in order to get back on track, do what works best for you 🙂

Also, I thought I’d share some recipes I’m loving lately!

  1. Banana Bread 
  2. Eggplant Pizza Crust
  3. Honey Dijon Dressing
  4. Chicken Tortilla Soup

#acceptance

Well, well, well, look who decided to show up (me). Notice with my post title, I’m trying to bring back the hashtag. I really like the hashtag and I’m not sure why it’s lost it’s gusto. Let me preface this post by saying there are no recipes, no pictures, no…there’s nothing really here except for a little rant. Okay, maybe one picture.

I have 100% been on a health hiatus the past few weeks. Okay, maybe more like 95% (the other 5% was me eating cookies and partaking in St.Patrick’s Day festivities). Those of you that actually know me, know that I have the most annoying stomach of all time. Those of you that don’t know, now you know. It’s sensitive. I’m talking issues after every single meal (if you’re seriously curious, it’s IBS-constipation, and I’ll talk about it to anyone who wants to listen, but I’ll spare the rest of the world by limiting the deets here).

Image result for they say trust your gut but have you met mine meme

Last time we spoke (aka I wrote, you read), I had been toying with being a vegan. Fast forward a few weeks and now I’m back to eating meat. I’m still trying to eat a TON of veggies, though. I know, I know, it’s annoying. I’ll be the first one to admit that. I’m annoyed. However, I was listening to a Podcast the other day (Balanced Bites– it’s one of the best), and one of the ladies was talking about being a “nutrient seeker” and how those of us who are interested in bettering the way we feel, are all just trying to be the healthiest we can be. Often, that means we have to try various approaches to eating before we find the one that works best for us. That looks differently for everyone, and I am currently trying to figure out the diet that works best for me. When I say “currently” I mean, I’ve been trying to figure it out for freaking ever.

I recently reached out for more medical advice via a “GI Specialist” (my 4th doctor, but this time I was expecting more since he was a “guru” on GI issues). I was SERIOUSLY disappointed when the answer he gave me was the same as the others, “you have IBS.” I honestly feel like it’s a garbage can diagnosis and that there must be a cause. I don’t know the root cause, all I know is I have a ton of food sensitivities. He wanted to do a couple procedures that “might” help us “rule out” some more serious issues, but the underlying treatment would be diet. So, here I am again, toying with my diet, trying to find what works best for me. Want to know what doesn’t work for me? A ton of veggies. Like, being vegan. I can only eat a small list of veggies that don’t cause discomfort and they have to be roasted (carrots, zucchini, celery, eggplant).

As a vegan, that’s not going to cut it. Especially because I also can’t eat legumes or tofu. I even discovered that potatoes (yes, potatoes) cause discomfort. I can pinpoint this based off of food journals and a TON of trial and error (I love sweet potatoes, but we’re breaking up for a bit). Trust me, I’ll try again after a few more weeks without them. Long story short, it’s hard to sustain a plant based diet when a ton of plants feel like the devil. Plus, I was hungry all the time, not cool.

This sort of brings me to the Daily Prompt “one word challenge” that I’m going to try to stay on top of through WordPress. The one word prompt today is “Acceptance” and it couldn’t be more appropriate for my situation. Regardless of what I think the cause of my stomach issues is, I need to fully “come to terms” (that’s what the guru said) with the fact that I have a condition that only allows me to eat certain foods. That’s SUPER HARD when you like love food.

Through my research, I should be eating an anti-inflammatory diet in order to allow my gut to heal (I hate the word gut). This means I should eliminate grains (cooookies), legumes (not a problem), dairy (cheeeeeeese), and even nuts and seeds (this is personal-I can tolerate nut butters but not whole nuts). That leaves me with meat, eggs, veggies that I can tolerate and some fruit (at certain times of the day). This is all while making sure I drink a ton of water, get plenty of sleep, and stress less (riiiiiiight).

Look, sometimes I know I sound like such a nut case, but I have been dealing with this FOR SO LONG. I have to accept this situation and tackle it. I have to get back to a rhythm that works for me.

In other words I’m trying to find acceptance with where I’m at today and look forward to the future.

End rant.