Thursday, March 29, 2012

Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread

This is an old family recipe that I've enjoyed since I was just a wee little one.  You never visited Nana and Bops' house without having some brown bread!! I like to make this every couple of weeks and often I double the batch and freeze one of the loaves.  This hearty bread is great for little kids, too.  That's the time I got started on it and both of my kids are big fans of Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread! 

Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread

Servings: 12

1 cup raisins
1 cup water

1 cup of old-fashioned oats
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of All-Bran Original Cereal
2/3 cup of sugar (You can scale this back to as little as 1/3 of a cup if needed)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of buttermilk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350°. In a saucepan, combine the water and raisins.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until raisins are soft.  Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, cereal, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Stir until combined.  Add buttermilk, egg and raisin/water combo. Stir until all ingredients are well-blended.  Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.  

This is great with a slice of colby-jack cheese on top (the proper Dutch way to eat this delicious bread)!  

If you try it, comment here and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Asian Chicken Slaw Salad

This recipe is so easy to prepare ahead of time and it's delicious too!! You only need a few ingredients and you'll be well on your way to a healthy, super tasty lunch or dinner.  Since I discovered this recipe on Phit-N-Phat a few months ago, I've been prepping it regularly.  It's a hit in our house!
*Please pardon the paper plate.  I was at work snapping pictures of my lunch!
 Asian Chicken Slaw Salad

Servings: 6-8

2 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breast
2-3 bags of Broccoli Slaw or Rainbow Salad
Cilantro to taste (I omit this as I'm not a huge cilantro fan)  

In a slow cooker or oven, cook chicken breasts with a bit of broth/water and whatever seasonings you'd like.  I happen to use my favorite, Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning for this recipe. I use the slow cooker and cook on low for about 5 hours, then transfer the breasts to a plate and shred.

For prep purposes, place the slaw/chicken into individual Ziploc containers, then top it with 4 oz of shredded chicken breast. Store in the fridge until you're ready to eat.

Dressing: This is the BEST part.  It's got a little bit of sweet, salty and crunchy.  Amazing!
I prep this each day or the night before instead of prepping all of the dressing at once.  This is for a single serving.  

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Combine all ingredients and microwave for 10-20 seconds or until peanut butter is melted.  Whisk together, pour over salad, toss and enjoy!

More Than The Gym Or The Kitchen

I was reading through some of my old posts last night.  It's so fun to re-read this journal and to see how far I've come.  One post in particular hit me hard.  I wrote it 2 years ago in January 2010.  I had finished out a 90 day fitness challenge, I was down 20 lbs and feeling limitless.  The scale and food had a power over me back then and deep down, I knew I had to shift my thinking.  I still had 30 more pounds to lose to get to that beautiful 180 pound goal weight I had at the time.

In the March challenge group I'm leading right now, one of the girls had a bad scale day.  She was so upset that the scale moved UP at her weigh in yesterday.  Yet, she had received compliments over the weekend on how great she is looking.  Her clothes are fitting better and best of all she spoke of how good she is feeling. She was defeated, frustrated, discouraged. Sound familiar??  So often, it's easy to base ALL of our success or failure around the scale We use it as a way to define how we are doing, but it's certainly not the only thing.  Back in 2010 this was something I still needed to learn.  It takes patience to get there and I still have bad scale days but I don't get down on myself like that girl back in January of 2010.

I referenced a Phit-N-Phat post that Corinne wrote back then.  She said this and it rang true back then, and it still rings true today. 

"HARD WORK isn't always in the gym or in the kitchen. Often it's in the mind. It's ignoring the scale and looking at what you do to find results. That's not nearly as satisfying but it's more important."

Ignoring the scale.  What?? Well, she's right on.  When you shift your mind and know that you are doing all the right things to lose, the scale shouldn't matter.  It was a hard concept for me to digest. I used to be a serial weigh-er. I'd weigh myself in the morning, after lunch, before bed.  Why?? I have no idea because I remember feeling tortured by that behavior.  

Corinne goes on to say this:

"It's also HARD WORK to realize looking good is not as important as feeling good and living a long life. Do you REALLY believe in this?"

I can officially say that I DO.  I get it now.  Getting fit and healthy is not a destination anymore.  It's a way of life.  I will never go back to that girl who yo-yo'd her way through the last 15 years.  I'm refusing to.  Why? Because I want to live a long and healthy life. I want to see my children have children. Life is beautiful and I deserve to live it and live it well.

It's been 2 years of HARD WORK to realize this.  I got pregnant again and knew I would gain most of the weight I lost to have a healthy 2nd pregnancy. I'm back here again, with a new fresh perspective.  Hard work, patience and never giving up all pay off.  Not just in the kitchen or in the gym, but up in that noggin', too.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

Here we are again! Another week, another Sunday full of preparing our food for the week.  I'll get right to it!!

Below we have celery, strawberries, blackberries, sweet potato, No-Bake Macaroni and Cheese (for the kids!!), Aunt Tilda's Brown Bread (I will finally share the recipe later this week!)
In the back, turkey meatloaf muffins, salsa chicken, portioned out Almond Thins, 7x Asian Chicken Slaw Salad and 2 not-quite-ripe cantaloupes.  I also did Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes, but I forgot to pull them out of the freezer to show you! 

I'm going to try my hardest to share recipes this week as well.  

Today's prep seemed to take longer than usual and my husband reminded me it was because I didn't chop/wash the fruits and veggies on Saturday.  Breaking it up between the 2 days is definitely helpful.

This week is a busy one for me because it's month-end.  It's weeks like these that I'm so happy to have all of this food prepared and ready to grab for the family to eat.  A lot of people ask me why I do all of this and it's dictated a lot by my schedule. However, it's also true that if we don't have things planned and ready to eat, we won't eat well.  It's as simple as that!! ;)

Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grilling Fish On Lemon Slices = Genius!


I was browsing Pinterest this morning and I came across this awesome pin from The Mother Huddle.  I had planned to do salmon on the grill tonight and this idea seemed perfect!! Grilling fish on top of lemon slices! Genius!!

I headed to the store this afternoon to fetch 2 more lemons and came home to prepare our meal.  I used a marinade of lemon juice, dill weed and EVOO and let the salmon stay in the marinade for about an hour.  Then I sprinkled a dash of Old Bay Seasoning on top and let the grill do the rest of the work.  What resulted was a perfectly moist salmon filet and almost no clean up at all!!

I also pictured the asparagus above.  Costco (and subsequently Amazon) carries this Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning and it's perfect with just about anything.  Veggies, meats, name it.  This seasoning is a blend of 21 organic spices and other ingredients including onion, garlic, carrot, red bell pepper, basil, celery, savory, mustard, cumin...oh the list goes on! I'm a big fan of this stuff.   I take a little bit of EVOO, some of the awesome seasoning and place it in a Ziploc with the asparagus.  Shake it around a bit until the asparagus is nice and coated and you are all set to roast or grill!!

I served this with a side of brown rice for an easy, 450 calorie meal full of healthy fats, starches and proteins.  

In Michigan we are having record temperatures (It was almost 90 degrees today!) and the grill has been getting an early Spring workout this week.  I hope all you fellow Midwesterner's are enjoying the unseasonably warm weather as much as we are!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

It was another crazy weekend around here but I still managed to get in my weekly Sunday food prep.  I decided to prep a lot of the family favorites this week in an effort to use up what I had in my fridge and my deep freezer.  I stockpile meat over the Summer and Fall and now it's time to use up the leftovers! Our farmer will start offering chicken again in May and I have just enough to get us through right now. 
Grammy's Sweet and Sour Cucumbers, regular cucumbers, red/yellow pepper strips, blueberries, sweet potato, strawberries, 8x Skillet Rotini, Crockpot Hawaiian BBQ Chicken and Power Chicken (not pictured: a pineapple that isn't quite ripe yet)

I also prepped Diet Cupcakes. These were an old favorite during my Weight Watchers days. 
1 box of cake mix + a soda (clear liquid for white cake, dark for chocolate).  Instead of using soda, I decided to clean it up and use a variation that calls for greek yogurt instead! 1 box of Devil's Food cake + 1 container of FAGE greek yogurt + 1 cup of water and you have a delicious snack. They are a hit with the husband and the kids, too!

We also have a plan to use our grill a few times this week since the weather in West Michigan has been absolutely gorgeous.  I have some burger patties and fish + veggies for 2 of our dinners this week.  The record temps are supposed to leave us by the weekend so we are going to enjoy it while we can! 

Did you get your food planned and prepped this week? I feel so much better knowing that I can come home from work, open my fridge and it's all ready to go.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sweet And Savory Turkey Salad

I just devoured this salad from yesterday's prep.  It was very filling over a bed of half-and-half lettuce mix.  You could also add nuts for some extra crunch, but I thought this was delicious all by itself!

Since January 1, I've been following my coach's menu plans and they have been very successful for me. This recipe is another one posted by a member of Phit-N-Phat  I think the best part about this salad is that I can see it getting better throughout the week as the cabbage, onion, celery and the dressing meld together.  I'll be eating this for lunch 2 more times this week! YUM!

Sweet & Savory Turkey Salad
Servings  : 6  
     4              cups  ground turkey, browned
     11/2        cups celery -- chopped
     11/2        cups  red cabbage -- chopped
      1            cup dried apricots -- slivered (I used dried cherries)
    3/4           cup raisins
    1/4           cup  red onion -- chopped
    1/4           cup  red wine vinegar
    1/4           cup  lemon juice
      2            tablespoons  vegetable oil
     1/4          cup  Dijon mustard
    1/4           cup  honey
     Grated zest (peel) of one small orange (opt)

Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, oil, mustard and honey. Add  orange zest and apricots. Let dressing sit at room temperature for about one hour.

In food processor, finely chop cabbage, celery and onion.
In a large bowl, mix turkey, celery, cabbage and raisins. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to coat. Chill for several hours or overnight. Serve on a large salad plate or bowl lined with lettuce leaves.

*For prepping purposes, bag the lettuce separately from the cabbage mixture.  


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Food Prep Sunday!

Wow! We've had a very exciting day around here.  I woke up and went for a nice run even despite the lost hour of sleep (No excuses, kids!)  Then it was church and onto Charlie's first ever concert. The Laurie Berkner Band was a hit and he thoroughly enjoyed himself!

After the concert we headed home for a quick regroup and then we were off to the bar to watch the Big 10 Basketball Championship.  We bleed Green and are very excited about the outcome!! Go State!
When eating out, this is how I do it!! Yes, I did indulge in a nice, frosty beer but when it came to dinner this is what I had:  Rice, a chicken wrap/no cheese with spicy ranch on the side and a pitcher of water.  The server ended up giving me the pitcher because I kept asking for water refills! HA!


I ended up splitting the prep between Saturday and Sunday.  I prepped all of my fruits and veggies last night while I was in the kitchen making dinner for my family.  I washed grapes and blueberries, cooked and sliced 2 sweet potatotes, peeled and sliced 2 cucumbers, cut up some celery, steamed carrots, bagged Almond Thins and hard-boiled eggs.

All that I needed to prep this morning was Clean Eating Simple Sunflower Seed Granola, Salsa Chicken, Sweet and Savory Turkey Salad and Buffalo Chicken Lasagna.  (I'll share recipes for those later!)

Total prep time was 2 hours from start to clean dishes. 

Cucumbers, blueberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, hard boiled eggs, grapes, celery, strawberries
Bagged Almond Thins
6x Savory and Sweet Turkey Salad (red cabbage, celery, onion, raisins, ground turkey with a yummy lemon juice, honey, mustard, red wine vinegar dressing. WIN!)
Salsa Chicken and Clean Eating Sunflower Seed Granola
8x Buffalo Chicken Lasagna (wing sauce in lasagna! YES!)
Shakeology + Magic Bullet.  We got another Magic Bullet so this one can travel to work with me!
(Not pictured are a chopped pineapple and 2 grilled chicken breasts. We did those tonight!)

This prepping stuff is really working for us and I urge you to try it too.  Spending 2 hours in your kitchen each weekend ensures you will have nutritious things to eat all week long.

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments!

Now, who's ready to rock out another great week? Here in Michigan we are going to have record temps and I can't wait for the sunny weather and added daylight!  Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cece is 10 Months Old!

10's so cliché, but where has the time gone??

When our children first make their way into the world, it seems like time stops for a bit.  You are dealing with sleepless nights, constant feedings and just survivin'! Then the groove hits and it's smooth sailing with the occasional obstacle. But, when they make that turn from baby to toddler it almost feels like it happens overnight.  I woke up yesterday wondering how it was possible that my little tiny baby is now 10 months old.

Cece is such a joy and we are so blessed that she is the final piece in our family puzzle.  She is a perfect mix of easy-going and feisty and she almost always has a smile on her face.  Cece has been crawling for 5 months now and she's really starting to master the "furniture scooch," testing her limits on her 2 feet.  Her brother had just started walking at this age, but Cece is in no hurry for that and we're okay with it! (seasoned parents will understand why! ha!)

She loves sweet potatoes, plain bagels, broccoli, carrots, berries and bananas.  Avocados are not her favorite and she's sure to make it known whenever I put that green goo on her plate.  She's not very picky yet, but she is definitely showing us her favorites now.  She only has one tooth that popped through this past Saturday.  She's still got that gummy smile you see above and I'm a little sad to see it go!  At her doctor's appointment last week she weighed almost 20 pounds and was 80% for her height and 65% for her weight.  I wonder if she'll have my height?? I hope so! Towering over Daddy is fun :)  

Her brother is her biggest fan, calling her "my baby" or "sister" or "Celie/Celia." He loves his "baby" and she loves him just as much. They interact like 2 peas in a pod.  There is nothing more satisfying as a mother to 2 beautiful children than watching them interact together with so much love. I know it won't always be this way, but we are making every effort to document them together as much as possible. Proof for their teenage years that they did in fact love each another at one point ;)  For some reason I have a feeling that Charlie will always be Cece's biggest advocate and best friend. He's just so great with her. <3

Cecilia Anne, you are a light in my life.  Proof that perfection exists in a not-so-perfect world.  I am so proud to be your Momma and I cannot wait to celebrate your 1st year in just a few short months.  Happy 10 Months, Baby Girl!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tales From the Scale

Ugh, the dreaded scale.  I can hear you all groaning already.

For some, it's a motivator; a key to defining weight loss success and the relationship is a happy one. For most, I would guess that therein lies a love-hate relationship of epic proportions.  The scale can make you happy or it can instantly cause feelings of defeat and sadness.  It can make you feel like all of your hard work has just gone down the toilet in only the 10 seconds it took for the number to flash up at you.

I know those feelings all too well and I've been down this path so many times.  I'm going to talk a little bit about how I have let the scale go.  You will notice that I'm no longer posting weekly weigh-ins.  Why? Because it's a rollercoaster of happiness, celebration, defeat, angst, negative self talk and all of the things that come from stepping on the scale. Sure, it's a great indicator that I'm doing all of the right things. But so is the way that I feel, the way that my clothes fit (and inches lost!) and the knowledge that I'm doing what I need to be doing to propel myself towards my goals.  I used to be scale-obsessed, some weeks stepping on it every single day.  If you are like I was, STOP!! You are only playing one of the greatest mind-games ever and this time the scale is winning.  Instead, focus on what you are DOING to get the scale to move in the first place. If your food and exercise are tight 7 days a week, then the scale will move in the right direction.  You might be carrying a lot of water weight one week, or you might have had some really tough lifting workouts and your muscles are sore.  Did you know that muscles that are repairing themselves hold onto water?? So don't even think about weighing yourself if you are experiencing lots of soreness. Is it your time of the month?? Put the scale away! And most importantly, weigh yourself once a week and once ONLY.  Resist the urge to give into the scale game.  If it's moving, be happy. If it's not, reevaluate but don't let it get you so down on yourself that you lose focus of your goals.

When you decide that this is going to be a lifestyle change, the approach to the scale is much different.   There isn't a finish line to this race any longer.  This is going to take time, effort, and then when you get to your goal weight, it's going to take more of that to maintain.

I'm in it for the long haul and while I would love the scale to show me a 2 pound loss each week, I know that's not always realistic.  I've learned to let that go and to be content knowing that I am doing things right each week and with that, my goals are slowly being met.  If I have a slip up, I know the scale will reflect that. Do I let it define my overall success?? No way. Not every week is going to be perfect and this is something that's taken me a long time to realize.  I might lose great one week and then not lose the next.  But when I look at my overall weight loss over the years, I always tend to average out at about 1 pound per week which is good, healthy fat loss.

So, my challenge to you is to resist the urge to let the scale define how you are doing. Take monthly measurements and put your energy into watching the inches come off.  Focus on doing all of the right things: track your food (eating plenty of  healthy foods!), drink 100 oz of water a day, get at least 4-5 days of exercise per week, lay off the alcohol and get enough sleep.  If you do those things, I can almost guarantee that you will see the scale move.  If it's not moving, take some time to reevaluate what you are doing, and put a plan in place to ensure that it will move next week.  You own the scale, it doesn't own you!  And always remember, that no matter what that number says you are absolutely BEAUTIFUL!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Food Prep Sunday

My food prep this week was EASY!   I had a busy weekend and so I spread it out over 2 days.  I chopped all of the fruits and veggies on Saturday afternoon and then I did all of the meat items today. Total time from start to clean dishes was about 2 hours.  
This week's menu includes:

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins Over salads, with broccoli slaw or by itself.
Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers (this recipe is already a hit with my 3 year old)
Pork Lime Carnitas (1/2 cup of lime juice, red pepper flakes and a dash of salt in a slow cooker for 5ish hours) We'll eat this in a whole grain tortilla or with tortilla/corn chips.  
Fish Foil Packets: Salmon, lemon, asparagus, Old Bay Seasoning...delish!

The other behind the scenes items are lots of fruits and veggies, bagged Kashi crackers, eggs (I'm picking up 4 dozen this week from our farmer) salad mix, spinach for our shakes, cottage cheese, lean roast beef, Ezekial toast/muffins, fingerling potatoes, yogurt, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and almonds.

I've also got my workouts planned out. I'm feelin' a fabulous week ahead!

What are you going to do this week to propel yourself towards your goals?? Don't stop believing in yourself and it will happen!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

5k's, Prepping and Accountability

I wanted to update the blog with my proclamation to run a 5k in May!  When I left off in 2010, I had just completed the Couch 2 5k program. I had no intentions of running a race back then but all of that has changed now.  I started the program again last Monday and I'll be talking about it here as I progress through the program for the 2nd time.  I'll be running the Fifth Third River Bank Run on May 12. !!!!!!!

I'm also gearing up for my weekly Food Prep Sunday.  It's going to be a bit more easygoing this week because it's my birthday on Saturday and we have a lot planned.  I am going to do my shopping tomorrow and do some of the prep on Saturday and the remainder on Sunday.

This week I'll be prepping a new recipe from Corinne. Pork Carnitas. I'll share it on Sunday.  I'm also going to be doing Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers, for the kids (and my big kid!), Turkey Meatloaf Muffins, as well as prepping whatever fruits and veggies I can find on sale this week.  I've been noticing a large difference in the produce sections of the grocery stores I visit.  Some are definitely better than others and I plan to hit up one particular store for most of the produce this week.  Finally, we'll be doing fish at some point next week as well. I like to do fish at least once a month if not more and we haven't had it in awhile.  I won't be prepping anything for it but I will be shopping for it! It should be a nice easy prep for me! No sense in making it more difficult than it needs to be :)

Lastly, today I kicked off my March Accountability group and I'm so excited about this group of ladies! It's going to be a great month for them and I can't wait to see how they fare over the next 30 days. Accountability has been so important to my weight loss journey. It's so exciting to be able to inspire and motivate others to take on their challenges and meet their goals square in the face.  I love it!  If you're interested in joining one of my monthly accountability groups (I'll be forming another in April) please let me know!

Happy Thursday! Check back on Sunday for the weekly Prep post!