3 Cozy Recipes for Fall 

Hey, hey! I just wrapped up parent teacher conferences yesterday and have the day off. I thought I might take a break from grading papers (okay, and simultaneously watching The Real Housewives of Orange County…shamelessly) and share a couple of recipes I’ve been loving lately.

I love to bake when fall comes around. Actually, I love to bake all the time, but when fall comes, I bake even more!

The first recipe is from Oh She Glows. It’s a vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe. I alternate this recipe and actually make it not vegan. I use this recipe when I don’t have any eggs on hand, but still want cookies. Being able to eat the cookie dough knowing you’re not ingesting raw egg is obviously a perk.

I alternate the recipe by using regular butter and regular flour. AKA I make it less “healthy,” but fake butter and wheat flour don’t sit well in my stomach. Oh, and I use the all butter version- not the version with oil.

I love these cookies SO MUCH! They come out thick, crispy on the outside, and soft in the center. Yum.

The second recipe I love is this Simply Recipes banana bread. I love it because it doesn’t use a ton of sugar and it’s super easy! I prefer it toasted and buttered. Like…my mouth is watering thinking about it.

I let my bananas get brown sometimes just so I have an excuse to bake this bread! Speaking of brown bananas, make sure they’re BROWN. It adds natural sweetness to the bread.

The last recipe I love around this time of year is pumpkin coconut creamer. I don’t really have a recipe or follow one for this stuff, but this one sounds pretty close to what I do. I just add spices and sweetness and pumpkin until I’m perfectly satisfied with the taste.

It’s delicious and full of healthy fats. If I’m not ready for breakfast in the morning, but need something to hold me over, I use a tablespoon of this creamer and a scoop of collagen in my coffee. It’s seriously delicious!

Side note: Find a cute jar to store it in. I use this Shato creamer jar. It keeps for at least a week, and it fits in the fridge door just perfectly.

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Chicago and “Diets”

Hey, hey! Taking a break from writing essays and discussion posts about Educational Research to say hi and chat a little bit about our Chicago trip, but mostly about diets.

In Chicago, I tried to focus on getting as many steps as possible throughout the day and eating special foods that I might not normally eat. We walked Chief each morning for about an hour and a half. It was a great way to see the city without a BILLION people surrounding us.

Then, we’d take the afternoon to walk some more, eat pizza, and experience the city. We went to Navy Pier, Wrigley Field for a Cubs game, and walked every neighborhood around downtown (so cute)…including right on the lake! It’s HUGE!

 

 

Once we got home from Chicago I had a hard time getting back into my routine of healthy meals and regular exercise, but I didn’t stress about it. I’m back on track now!

Lately, I’ve been eating lots of smoothie to get greens and veggies in since my stomach is sensitive to so many vegetables. I use almond milk, lots of spinach (sometimes frozen zucchini or steamed then frozen sweet potato), some fruit, and protein powder or collagen. I can tolerate smoothies with veggies WAY more easily then eating a salad at lunch. I’ve been eating yogurt parfaits with a little fruit and granola for lunch to make sure I get probiotics in (I love this Nancy’s brand).

I was thinking about how many different “diets” I’ve tried over the years for either weight loss or health reasons. I’ve tried quite a few, but the following stick out to me!

1. Weight Watchers: This was the first “diet” I ever really tried. I think it was in high school, which makes me sad. I was a volleyball player and always quite active, but still thought I needed to lose weight. It didn’t really work for me because I wasn’t able to be consistent with it. The point system was too time consuming and I always felt hungry still.

2. Paleo: I originally started Paleo because of my stomach issues. I heard/read about the many benefits of going gluten free, grain free, dairy free, etc. Unfortunately, this way of eating bogged me down. I felt heavy, uncomfortable, and lethargic. It didn’t help my stomach issues, so I stopped. In fact, I actually felt like the meat was hurting my stomach. Which leads me to the next diet…

3.  Vegetarian/Vegan: I have toyed with plant based diets since I was in high school (for ethical reasons mostly). The latest stint of being vegan was based off the whole Paleo thing hurting my stomach, and also being influenced by a couple of documentaries (I am such a sucker). I don’t actually like eating meat all that much and when I don’t restrict it from my diet, I eat very little of it. When I restricted myself, I craved meat often. Plus, raw vegetables consistently hurt my tummy. There are only so many meals you can make out of roasted zuchinni and carrots.

4. Intuitive Eating: After realizing I wanted to eat meat and  lots of vegetable, I focused on “intuitive eating”. I essentially ate what I wanted whenever I wanted. It was kind of like I said, screw this, nothing is working. My stomach still hurt after almost every meal and I just wasn’t losing any weight. Well, when I started relying on my intuition to tell me what I wanted to eat and when, I began eating cookies and pizza on the reg. Not healthy.

5. Macros/Calorie Counting: Macro counting is basically glorified calorie counting. You eat a certain number of calories each day, but your macro ratio is specific. It requires weighing all of your food and logging it. This didn’t work for me in the long run, but it did show me that tracking what I eat is helpful (personally). I don’t want to have to track macros the rest of my life, but I did realize it helps to track calories.

Where I am now: Right now my diet is a combination of all these methods. Im focusing more on how I feel after every meal, making notes as I go. I stay away from trigger foods (aka those that hurt), eat meat when I want it, eat a plant based meal when I want it, and a cookie or slice of pizza here and there (like, yesterday, at Costco). I am focusing on how much I’m eating and tracking calories (for now). It helps me. I won’t do it forever, but like I said, relying on “intuitive eating” doesn’t work for me. I’m a foodie, so I want it all.

Instead of actually eating it all, I log whatever it is I want, and adjust my day accordingly. I’ve noticed that if I just eat the donut, or the slice of pizza, I’m more inclined to make healthier choices elsewhere in my day. When I log it, I see the toll it takes on my calorie intake. I’ve also noticed that some days I’m way under on calorie intake because I’m just not hungry, and other days, I go over. In the end, it usually balances out. I’m definitely on a self care kick right now. I’m choosing to eat and drink what makes me feel my best.

 

What I prepped for the week:

  • Roasted Carrots (whole carrots cut in half and quartered, tossed in olive oil/salt/pepper/cinnamon, 450 degrees for 20 min)
  • Yogurt Parfaits (2 at a time)- yogurt, frozen mango (it thaws over night), and Purely Elizabeth granola
  • Hardboiled eggs (I have no specific way of doing this! Every single time, I try a new method. I’m accepting suggestions, folks.)
  • Shredded Chicken in the crockpot (so versatile)

My workout today (thanks to Freighthouse Fitness): Partner up. One person does the first exercise, the other does a cardio or ab exercise of their choice. Switch. Work your way down the list and start over with new rep count. Reps start at 3o and go down to 25, 15, 10, 5. I went heavier with each round and focused more on cardio today (vs. abs).

Cardio I chose between sets: running, kettlebell swings, burpees, and jumping jacks.

  • Hip Thrusts
  • RDL’s
  • Back Lunge
  • Kickbacks (with bands)

Have a wonderful week!

xoxo

Stef

4 Things I’ve Learned About Marriage

Hey, strangers! It’s been so long since I’ve had time, or the mental capacity, to write a post. I started school a couple weeks ago and it’s been a whirlwind. I’m getting into the swing of things now, which feels nice. I’m SO happy at my new school! I was definitely nervous to get started in 8th grade ELA, since my background is in elementary. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how natural it is for me. I love my team, I love my teaching partner, I love getting to know my students, and I love teaching reading and writing workshop for all 4 classes.

Let’s see, what else is new? I’m still teaching bootcamp and I LOVE it! It is literally the perfect combination of my passion for teaching and my passion for fitness. I get to workout with the coolest people ever. Literally, everyone is awesome! This picture was from the very first day of school. I rushed to the gym to teach right after school. We have this new mic we speak into, which is awesome, but every once in a while I get caught up in the music and start singing into it (it’s impossible NOT to sing Boombastic).

I’ve been working out at the gym 3-4 times per week and doing low intensity steady state cardio for the other days 2-3 days. It’s working for me! Running has taken a back seat lately. It doesn’t feel good and now that I’m 30, I don’t do things that don’t feel good! My 30 year old resolution is to only do things that make me feel good!

ALSO, Kevin and I are going to Chicago next weekend and I’m so excited! I’ve been wanting to go for ages now. It’s the perfect Labor Day getaway. We’re going to see a Cubs game, eat lots of pizza, and explore the city. It’ll be our first road trip in a while (we’re driving because it’s only 8 hours away). I like road trips with Kevin! We’re good travel buddies, which is good, because we’re married.

Speaking of Kevin, and marriage…Facebook reminded me that Kevin proposed to me around this time 4 years ago. He snuck into my classroom (my first classroom!) and asked me to marry him.

Side note: This was shortly after he told me he was going to by a motorcycle, so I thought an engagement was not in the near future.

Since this happened 4 years ago, I thought I’d list 4 things I’ve learned over these years as far as marriages go! I’m not an expert and these by no means are brand spankin’ new, breaking news tips and tricks. They’re areas that I’ve grown in personally and think are important!

  1. Focus on the good: Personally, I think women in particular struggle with this concept. It’s so easy to get caught up in things that annoy you or bother you about the other person’s habits or whatever. It’s hard to blend lives when you’re one way and your partner is the other. But I’ve learned to try to focus on all the wonderful things Kevin does like love me for me, mow the lawn like a boss, and save the last bite for me every.single.time.
  2. Pick your battles: Speaking of focusing less on the bad, seriously pick your battles. It sounds so cliche but there are some things that are just not worth bringing up. Regarding the things that are worth bringing up, try to do it a nice, simple manner, Not over, and over, and over. I’m still working on this…
  3. Do fun stuff: Don’t stop dating and doing fun things once you’re married. The fun activities and outings are what keep couples happy and thriving. Dinner dates, movie nights, road trips, concerts- do it all! Celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and all of that good stuff. Life’s too short to “save your money” and grade papers on the weekend. <—- again, always working on this.
  4. Be grateful: Marriage is hard. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean the trials and tribulations of dating just go away. But, don’t take your partner for granted. Be grateful for the fact that there are still things to learn about one other, and that the curve balls life throw at you often bring you closer. Be grateful that you have the other person there to support you, challenge you, and care for you. Try to aways appreciate and respect one another, regardless of whether you’re on an up or a down slope in life. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Have a happy Sunday, and a wonderful week!

xoxo

Recipes I’m making this week:

Parmesan-Lemon Chicken Bake This is SO easy and really flavorful.

Brownie Batter Smoothie I leave out the date and add 2 scoops of collagen instead of 1.

Flaxseed Crusted Chicken and SP Noodles

Paleo Coconut Flour Zuchinni Bread

The Easiest Shredded Chicken Making tacos on Tuesday- duh!

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!

Royals
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