Sunday, October 30, 2016

Candy overload...trying something different for birthday favors

I know I'm not the only one out there that feels like this is the start of eat-all-the-candy-cake-cookies-etc. season. Right?! I mean, maybe I'm the only one but with all the parties and trick-or-treating and trunk-or-treating and just give-kids-bags-of-candy-for-fun, my kids are sugared out. They might not realize it, but their craziness and then tiredness and then upset stomachs all point to too much candy. So I decided this year for Carter's little birthday celebration at school to send glo-sticks instead of cupcakes and do mini-pumpkins as party favors for his birthday party instead of decorated cookies or cute sack of candy. And I'll tell you what...the kids went bananas for both "switch outs!" I feel like maybe those tiny changes at least cancel out a bit of the big bowl of candy I have ready for trick-or-treaters. I mean, 'tis the season :) #mostlyhealthychoices

Thursday, October 27, 2016

It's chilly outside...make some simple, clean chili and warm up!

Fall is officially here! And that means that you can make chili! I mean, I make chili all year round but now it feels more appropriate. This recipe is meant to be thrown in the crock pot and ready for hungry mouths at dinner.

What you need:

  • 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can Great Northern beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (or one big one)
  • 1 can rotel
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 cup water (or no water if you like yours on the thicker side)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco (or skip it for a milder version)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • Salt to taste

What to do:

  1. Brown turkey
  2. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and set on low for 6-8 hours (or if you forget in the morning, go for 3-4 hours on high)
  3. Enjoy!

Nutrition per 1 cup serving (makes 12 servings): 140 calories, 3 grams of fat, 17 carbs, 6 grams fiber, 12 grams protein.


I love to double this recipe and serve leftovers later in the week over baked potatoes. You can totally throw the potatoes in the microwave after stabbing them and wrapping them in paper towels, but my favorite way to do baked potatoes is like this:
  1. Stab cleaned baking potatoes with a fork like 12 times (get into's a stress reliever)
  2. Rub down the potatoes with a bit of olive oil and sea salt (this is double duty as it also gives you a nice hand scrub for soft skin)
  3. Bake directly on the rack at 400 degrees for and hour or so-just until a fork can easily be inserted into the taters. (I like to put a sheet pan or foil underneath on the rack below the potatoes to catch any little drips)

Salmon, rice and veggies...clean and "lazy"

The salmon and veggies are at Costco

These three pre-done, whole, clean foods are my go at least once a week. Simply put the frozen salmon fillets in a pre-heated (375 degree) oven for 30 minutes. I like to put a piece of foil down under the fillets on a baking sheet for super fast clean-up. While the fish is baking, stir-fry the veggies for about 5 minutes in a bit of olive oil with some sea salt and pepper and microwave your rice. Done. So. Easy.

The FOUR minute workout...TABATA!

Who wants to work out for only 4 minutes but get the benefits of a 60 minute workout? I bet everyone just yelled “ME!”... or at least silently thought it. We are all busy people, so this type of workout is perfect for people on the go or those who want to take their conditioning and body to the next level. Interval training has been thought of for years as the most efficient way to burn fat and increase cardiovascular fitness. Recently, a specific form of interval training has received much deserved attention: Tabata.

The Tabata protocol was named for Dr. Izumi Tabata who studied the routine which was  developed for the Olympic Japanese speed skating team.  Dr. Tabata and his team found that those subjects who engaged in just 4 minutes of the protocol improved their maximum aerobic capacity by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by 28% whereas those who did “traditional” exercise (running at 70% aerobic capacity for a total of 60 minutes) only improved their aerobic capacity by 9.5% and had NO improvement in anaerobic capacity. Click here  to view the abstract of the study published in the journal “Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise.”
 Hum…now which would you rather do…4 minutes or 60 minutes…hum…
Okay, so here’s the deal. A Tabata interval is made up of 20 seconds maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated for a total of 4 minutes (or 8 cycles of 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest). You can do Tabata intervals anywhere with most any equipment (or none at all) to add some spice to your workouts or as your total workout on busy days when you only have 4 minutes to spare. The important thing to remember is that during those 20 seconds, you had better be working at maximum effort to reap the most benefits. So think about movements like sprints, jump squats, burpees, jumping rope, butt kicks, high knees, all that jazz.
Since it’s a total drag to watch a clock, it possible download some kind of Tabata App (I love Tabata Pro; it plays over my music and it’s not annoying). Also, I use the app to help my kids clean up...only 20 seconds at a time :) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Organic vs. Conventionally Grown Produce

Photo from EWG

Organic refers to produce produced without synthetic chemicals or fertilizers, genetic engineering, radiation or sewage sludge. Sounds like we should be eating only organic, right? But just because it's labeled "organic" doesn't mean it's healthy. Examples: organic gummy worms, organic cookies, etc. It's also confusing because there are some that say that it's just a waste of money to buy organic and others that say it's the best dollar(s) spent. So what's a person to do? Well...there's a group, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) comes out with a list each year of the most pesticide ladend produce and ones with barely any at all based on extensive testing from the US Dept. of Agriculture. It feels like a safe bet to me :) 

The Dirty Dozen
  • strawberries
  • apples
  • nectarines
  • peaches
  • celery
  • grapes
  • cherries
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • sweet peppers
  • cucumbers
  • hot peppers
  • kale

Clean 15
  • avocado
  • corn
  • pineapples
  • cabbage
  • sweet peas
  • onions
  • asparagus
  • mangoes
  • papayas
  • kiwi
  • eggplant
  • honeydew
  • grapefruit
  • cantaloupe
  • cauliflower
Hopefully this helps a bit when buying produce.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Taco Tuesday


We LOVE Taco Tuesday at my house. Everyone can just make their own tacos, or burrito bowls or whatever.

  • cooked cauliflower rice (super easy with Trader Joe's frozen kind) or regular rice (super easy with steam-in-bag rice
  • shredded taco chicken (so easy, throw chicken breasts in the crockpot with a jar of salsa...all day on low, 4 hours on high)
  • black beans (I'm in love with Trader Joe's Cuban style black beans)
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • diced onion (you can grab some at the salad bar in your grocery store if you don't want to chop)
  • salsa
  • and add some avocado for extra yumminess!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Clean and Easy Protein Balls

My son is obsessed with these delicious protein balls at our local clean eating tea place (and frankly, I am obsessed with them as well). So today when I asked Carter what he wanted for a snack, he said "protein balls, please." Since the baby was down for her afternoon nap, Carter and I looked through our pantry and decided that we could totally make our own clean protein balls out of stuff we had laying around. So we 10 minutes flat...and they are rock-star protein balls! PLUS, you can make them with all sorts of stuff. You could add flax, chia seeds, chocolate, fruit, etc

What you need:

  • Parchment paper lined cookie sheet
  • 1 cup nut butter (we used raw salted creamy natural peanut butter but almond butter or sunflower butter would be great too)
  • 1/2 cup sweetener (we used raw organic honey but agave or maple syrup or brown rice syrup will do)
  • 54 grams of protein powder (we used 2 1/2 scoops IsaPro vanilla...just make sure it's unsweetened and just protein powder)
  • 1 cup oatmeal (we used gluten free quick oats)
  • 22 chocolate chips
What you do: 

  1. On medium-low heat, combine peanut butter and honey and stir until smooth (be careful, it can burn!)
  2. Remove pan from burner and let cool for a minute stirring continuously.
  3. Mix in protein powder and oatmeal in (you get a bit of an arm workout since it gets pretty thick)
  4. Make into tablespoon sized balls (or use a cookie dough scoop if you're resourceful... like me).
  5. Top with a chocolate chip (totally optional :) ) 
  6. Refrigerate for around an hour and eat 'em!

Nutrition stats:
(per ball...recipe makes 22)
115 calories, 6 grams fat, 11 grams carbs, 6 grams sugar, 1.5 grams fiber, 5.5 grams protein

EDIT: I made another batch using half the sweetener and added 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk and they were perfection, plus you shave off 15 calories and 3 grams sugar :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Smashed Potatoes....a side everyone loves

Smashed Potatoes

What you need:
  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 1/4 cup milk (unsweetened original almond milk works great if you don't do dairy)
  • garlic salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
What you do:

  • Peel and chop potatoes into small cubes (small the better since they will take less time to soften)
  • Put in sauce pan with water that covers all potatoes
  • Bring water to a boil with potatoes already in pot and let boil for about 10 minutes or until a fork goes easily into the potato chunks
  • add ingredients and smash those guys until creamy and smooth or chunky or however you like them.

Friday, October 14, 2016

School lunches...ahhhhh

So I this is the first year that I have a kiddo in school full time (cheer/sob). That means he has to have lunch packed I don't have a ton against school lunches, but my guy refuses to eat most of what is served and, therefore, I get the pleasure of making him (and sometimes his baby sister who's PDO doesn't provide lunch) a bag of food 5 days a week. I started to panic thinking that my non-sandwich eating, salad hating, cheese loving 5 year old was destined to a lunchbox full of cheese sticks and a water bottle, so I started brainstorming like a month ago and here is the short and simple list of acceptably healthy lunches that I will get on a rotation. THANK YOU Thermos hot food containers and very slim ice packs :)

*NOTE: this is based on my son's own tastes...I know there are foods that are obviously absent :)


  • Turkey Roll Ups (just a slice of turkey rolled into a "tube"...for some reason my guy won't eat a flat piece of turkey but roll it up, and it's a completely different food...argh)
  • Oatmeal with blueberries and a touch of local honey
  • Black beans with cheese and a bit of sour cream (from night before Tacos)
  • Mac and cheese with peas
  • Apples with peanut butter
  • Meat balls with BBQ sauce 
  • Left over spaghetti and meatballs
  • Greek yogurt with granola
  • Clif bar or something like that in an emergency 
  • String cheese with turkey pepperoni and popcorn
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Apple
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
Sides/Snacks (we have to provide a snack every here's what I was thinking:
  • Snapea Snacks (Trader Joe's also has "Inner Peas"
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Granola bar
  • Apple sauce
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Craisins
  • Lara Bar
  • Yogurt
I think if I keep it simple enough, I'll be able to get into a routine and it won't be such a big deal every night to pack it up and have it ready in the morning (except for the hot stuff which I will just warm up before school)....easy peasy, right? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lazy Monday Night Meal: Salmon, Veggies and Rice

It's tough...finding something to feed your family EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. That is why I like "lazy" cooking nights. Last night for instance, I had dinner on the table in 30 minutes flat and felt great about what I was feeding my family. I used frozen, individually portioned wild Alaskan salmon, whole grain steam-in-the-bag rice with veggies and a fantastic frozen veggie mix.                                                                                     

Here are the details:

I love love love Morey's Marinated Wild Alaskan Salmon. I get it at Costco, but they sell it other places too. It's gluten free, individual portions and can be cooked from frozen. I know, I know. Frozen salmon? I'm usually a hard pass on frozen fish, but this is amazing. Throw these guys in a 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes and eat. (Or if you have all your stuff together, you can thaw over night in the fridge and it takes 12 minutes to bake...I just never remember.)

While your salmon is baking sautee your favorite frozen go to is the Kirkland Stir-fry has like 8 kinds of veggies in it and is delicious with just some sea salt and pepper.  

While your frozen veggies are thawing and getting tender, throw some steam-in-bag rice in the microwave. My favorite right now is Birds Eye Brown and Wild Rice with Carrots and Broccoli. I just throw some seasoning on it or if I'm feeling frisky, some soy sauce or Soyaki.