Thursday, October 22, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday to me.

Last week I turned the big 4-0. Looking back through the last decade, a lot has happened. I bought a house, got married, and had two children. I also embarked on a new fitness journey that I never thought I would do before. I was always active through volleyball or rock climbing, but with two children, it was more difficult to get to those things consistently. I also never thought I'd exercise consistently. I work full-time outside the home, still cook homemade meals about 90% of the time, and I don't outsource anything.   

Think I have it all together? Nah...if you see parts of my house (my office!), you know I don't.


 

I just prioritize what's important to me. I carve out that 30-45 minutes for me at the end of the night on a weekday to get my workout in, to work on ME. Doing that allows me to be more present for the rest of my family. Don't think you have to take care of everything else before you take care of yourself. And definitely don't think that there's something special going on here...if I can do it, you can do it too!

Need help with accountability?  I can help.  Contact me!




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Hate eating veggies? Have you tried Shakeology yet? Click here to nab your six day sample pack and give it a taste test of your own.
Want to give 21 Day Fix a try? Click here to buy your challenge pack now and join us for the next  accountability group starting soon!
Not ready to commit to just ONE program yet? Try out Beach Body Streaming and stream a variety of different programs from your computer or mobile device. The first 30 days are free, so what have you got to loose? And at only $2.99 per week after your first 30 days it’s a steal of a deal.
Love Shakeology and want a little something extra? Try out one of the NEW boosts.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cheesy Broccoli Rice and Quinoa Casserole

I'm always trying out recipes so that I can get my kids to eat more veggies.  Broccoli is one of the veggies that they DO eat.  I came across this recipe from the cookbook 100 Days of Real Food and thought I'd try it out.  What's not to love about cheese and broccoli?  It's not something my kids have had before, so who knew if they would like it.

I eyeballed a bunch of the ingredients, especially the broccoli.  I wanted to have more broccoli in there than carbs.  I also had a bit of leftover white rice (though the recipe calls for brown rice) and I made some quinoa to supplement the rice to make this more of a full meal rather than a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 Cup uncooked brown rice, cooked according to directions
3/4 pound broccoli, roughly chopped (4-5 cups) and steamed for about 5 minutes
2 TBS butter
1/4 Cup diced onion
2 TBS whole-wheat flour
1.5 Cups milk
1.5 Cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used medium, so the flavor wouldn't be too strong for the kids)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yellow mustard
ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 Cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Combined cooked rice/quinoa and broccoli in large mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Melt butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, until softened. Sprinkle in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, until flour begins to brown but doesn't burn, whisking almost continuously.
4. Whisk in milk, watching for lumps. Sprinkle in cheese, salt, mustard, and pepper and stir until combined. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring until the mixture is like very thick gravy, less than 5 minutes.
5. Pour the cheese sauce over the broccoli and rice. Mix thoroughly and spread evenly in an 8x8 inch baking dish.
6. Sprinkly casserole with breadcrumbs and then drizzle with olive oil to coat the breadcrumbs.
7. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until breadcrumbs are nicely browned.

I wouldn't say this was a fast dish to prepare.  I already had some cooked broccoli, so that helped.  Again I had some leftover rice, but not enough for what the recipe called for, so I cooked some quinoa.  If you already had some rice to use, that would cut your prep time by quite a bit.

The results?  My kids, especially my older one (he's 5.5 yo), loved it.  He kept saying, "This is sooo yummy" and "Can you pack this for my lunch tomorrow" and "This is so good I want to sleep with it" (Yeah, that last one was strange).  My daughter (3 yo) liked it also, though she was less verbal about it.  Both the adults loved the dish as well, as it's definitely going to be a repeat dish for sure.  Hope you enjoy it!


***
Hate eating veggies? Have you tried Shakeology yet? Click here to nab your six day sample pack and give it a taste test of your own.
Want to give 21 Day Fix a try? Click here to buy your challenge pack now and join us for the next  accountability group starting soon!
Not ready to commit to just ONE program yet? Try out Beach Body Streaming and stream a variety of different programs from your computer or mobile device. The first 30 days are free, so what have you got to loose? And at only $2.99 per week after your first 30 days it’s a steal of a deal.
Love Shakeology and want a little something extra? Try out one of the NEW boosts.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Paleo Banana and Blueberry Pancakes

Another pancake recipe, you say?  But of course!  I feel that my kids don't do breakfast well during the weekdays, which is why I have so many different breakfast recipes.  Aside from my green smoothie pancake found here, my kids vary between eating whole wheat bread with jam, or yummy hawaiian rolls.  I wanted to find another go-to meal for them, so I thought I'd try these out.

Scrolling through the web for ideas, I came across a paleo recipe for pancakes.  There aren't that many ingredients either, and I had most of them, so that made trying them out easier.  Blueberries?  Check!  Ripe bananas? Check!  Eggs?  Check!  I did have to purchase shredded coconut though, so I did that on one of my grocery runs anticipating that I would be making these.

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas
6 organic eggs
1 Cup shredded coconut (I bought organic unsweetened)
1/2 Cup fresh blueberries (or thawed frozen)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
coconut oil for cooking

Directions
Batter: Peel the bananas and mash with a fork. Beat eggs in a bowl and mix it together with the mashed bananas. Add shredded coconut, blueberries, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.

Cook: Heat coconut oil in frying pan on low to medium (NOTE: be careful of the heat of your pan.  I found that the pancakes burned easily if the pan was too hot).  Pour 3 small portions of pancake batter in the pan at a time, and flip after 2-3 minutes (gauge the timing with the heat of your pan). Serve with shredded coconut and blueberries and dust with cinnamon (optional).

Also note that the blueberries can burst as they are being cooked, so be aware of that.  Overall, the taste was good.  Banana with coconut bits, with an eggy flavor.  I only tasted the blueberries when my bite had blueberries in it or had blueberry juice.  Kids approved!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Italian Style Cauliflower

Someone in one of our accountability groups posted this recipe and said that her family loved it.  I figured that since it's already been tried, I might as well try it for my family.  It's actually a recipe from Cooking Light and it's rather easy.  I did have to adapt the recipe to what I had on hand, as well as to my family's taste.  For example, I didn't include the crushed red pepper because I have young children eating the meal, and I used ground turkey instead of ground sirloin.

It didn't take too long to get this meal on the table, but if I were in a rush, I wouldn't make it unless I had prepped the ingredients beforehand.


Ingredients:

1 TBSP olive oil
1 C chopped onion
4 garlie cloves, minced
6 oz ground turkey
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (I opted out)
1/4 tsp black pepper (I only did a couple of dashes)
1.5 C spaghetti sauce (the recipe called for lower sodium marinara sauce, but I used what I had on hand)
2 oz pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1.5 lbs cauliflower, cut into florets
cooking spray
1/4 C mounding breadcrumbs (also what I had on hand.  Original recipe called for you to make your own)
1/4 C grated cheese (original recipe called for fresh pecorino Romano cheese--I had shredded mixed cheese so I used that instead)


Prep

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan.  Add onion, cook for 4 minutes.  Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir in meat. Sprinkle with salt and peppers, and cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Stir in sauce and olives.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Steam cauliflower 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.  (I personally did a bit more than a blanch in boiling water).  Place cauliflower in an 11x7 inch broiler-safe baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with sauce mixture.

4.  If you're making your own bread crumbs, do so in this step.  Combine crumbs and cheese; sprinkle over cauliflower mixture.  Broil 4 minutes or until browned.

Results?  My husband and I loved it.  My son liked it quite a bit, and my 3 year old daughter just liked it.  Haha.  The kalamata olives take some getting use to, so my kids weren't too fond of that (though my son ate them).  This will definitely be a repeat recipe.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

No Flour Peanut Butter Squares

I love me some peanut butter, and peanut butter in a bar?  SCORE!  This recipe came from the Fixate cookbook and it came out soooo good.  Totally kids (and parents) approved AND fix approved too (it counts as one yellow container and 2.5 tsp of oil).  It was super easy to make and there is no flour.


Ingredients:
nonstick cooking spray
1.5 C     all-natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 C     raw honey (or pure maple syrup)
2 tsp      vanilla extract
2            large eggs, at room temp
1/2 tsp   baking soda




Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Lightly coat 8x8 inch baking pan with spray.
3.  Combine peanut butter, honey, extract, eggs, and baking soda in a large bowl.  Mix well.
4.  Evenly spread batter into prepared pan.  Smooth top with a spatula.
5.  Bake for 20-23 minutes.  Squares may be a little soft when coming out of the oven, but they will   continue to cook.
6.  Cool.  Cut into squares.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Coach Sneak Peek!

Ever wonder what it is exactly that coaches do?  Now's your time to find out.  I'm sharing, along with other coaches, what we do starting September 14th.  Interested?  Find me on Facebook (Sabrina Cheng) and message me.  You can also leave a comment below on this post and I'll get back to you.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"Asian" Turkey Lettuce Wraps

The school year starting with a new kindergartner has me scouring the internet for recipes (I adapted this from newleafwellness) that will make my life after work-life easier.  That means trying out recipes that require minimal cooking or cooking that I don't need to watch over.  I decided I needed to try using my crockpot more often, so I happened upon a recipe for chicken lettuce wraps.  I put quotes on the word Asian, because it really doesn't taste anything like the Chinese lettuce wraps I've had in restaurants growing up, but there is an Asian flavor to them.   In any case, I decided to give it a try.  It's a bit sweet and a bit salty, so that worked out.  The original recipe called for ground chicken, but since I didn't have that, I used ground turkey instead.



Ingredients
  • 2 pounds of ground turkey
  • 1 medium-sized red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large carrots, grated (1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I opted out of using these as I wanted my kids to eat it)
Directions

1.   Add all ingredients to your slow cooker and cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours or until chicken is tender.
2.   Break apart chicken and serve.

Now my slow cooker has a few settings, and it's no exactly adjustable.  I can cook on high for 4 or 6 hours, or low on 8 or 10 hours.  Hmm...what to do?  Since I'm not home to monitor this, I opted for the low on 8 hours cooking time.  When I got back, parts of the sauce were a bit burnt, which added a slightly smokey flavor my husband liked, but my kids didn't.  I think the next time I might do the 4 hours on high.  Or if I'm home, do the 8 hours on low setting but stop at 4 hours.  Haha.  In any case, the kids really liked it (I just scooped them the parts that didn't have the slightly burnt sauce) and we ate it using romaine lettuce.  It was a hit for my 3 yo too, who didn't want to eat the lettuce part initially.   I think watching her brother eat it and seeing that you can wrap it like a burrito made it more fun for her.

I didn't try to freeze this, but it's probably going to be in my rotation soon with maybe a few tweaks to the recipe.  But here are instructions on how to freeze.

Freezing instructions

Add all ingredients to a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag.  Remove as much air as possible, seal, and freeze for up to three months.  Thaw in refrigerator overnight and then cook in slow cooker for 4-6 hours on “low” setting.  Break apart chicken and spoon onto lettuce.

Monday, August 24, 2015

French Toast Sticks

As the school year just started, I wanted to find some other quick breakfast recipes that I can prepare ahead of time and freeze for my kids to eat as we rush out the door in the morning.  (In the past, we've relied on this, and it's still a favorite).  I came across a version of french toast from iowagirleats that baked them, instead of pan frying them.  I instantly thought, SCORE!!  I don't want to have to stand over a hot stove for about 30 minutes frying up these babies.

As my son is now 5.5 yo (and I'm more willing to have him help), he helped me mix the eggs into the dip mixture, as well as pour in the vanilla.


Original recipe

Makes 12 French Toast Sticks

Ingredients
- 4 slices Texas Toast
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 C milk
- 1 TBSP melted butter, slightly cooled
- 1 Tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then spray a baking sheet very well with non-stick spray and set aside. Cut bread slices into thirds, then set aside.

2. In a large shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Dunk bread sticks into batter, let excess drip off, then place onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, spraying the tops of the French toast sticks with non-stick spray before flipping halfway through.

3. To freeze: Let cool, then place onto baking sheet and freeze.  (I don't have that much freezer space, so I just cooled it on wax paper, stacked them with a sheet between each layer, put into a ziploc, and then froze flat).  To reheat, microwave for 30 second to 1 minute.


They came out great!  I didn't have texas toast, nor did I want to hunt for it.  So I went to our neighborhood small chain market and found some bread that was sliced thicker than a regular slice of bread.   I also doubled the recipe so that I would have more.  I figured that the more bread to soak up the dip, the better.  And I've made french toast with regular toast before, and I wouldn't think they'd hold up as well when cut into sticks.  I even forgot to add the butter I had already melted and they still turned out great.  A side note, instead of placing the battered bread straight onto the cookie sheet, I used my Silpat mats.  Easier clean up and more even cooking, without the spray. 

Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Zucchini and Carrot Turkey Meatballs

I'm always trying to find ways to get my little ones to eat more veggies.  They are doing well, but some times they are just not willing to try new things.  I found this recipe online (onelovelylife.com) and tweaked it a bit.  I made this the other night as part of dinner, and it came out so well!  I didn't have all the ingredients listed, so I opted to add some grated baby carrots (that's what I had) to the recipe too.  The meatballs were moist and delicious.  They are gluten free and dairy free.

Ingredients:

- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 C grated zucchini, leaving the skin on
- 1/4 C grated carrot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- coconut oil, for cooking (or avocado oil)


Instructions:

Toss turkey with zucchini, carrot, garlic, salt, and peer.  Mixture will be quite wet.

To cook on the stove top:  Heat oil in medium pan over medium heat. Use a small scoop or a heaped tablespoon to scoop meatballs into the pan.  Cook 8-10 at a time for about 5-6 minutes on the first side.  Flip and cook an additional 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown and the centers are cooked through.

To bake:  Drizzle a bit of oil into a baking sheet.  Scoop meatballs onto the greased pan. Drizzle a bit of additional oil over the meatballs.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.  If desired, place under the broiler for an additional 2-3 minutes or until browned on top.

Serve with guacamole, salsa, or your favorite dip.



I cooked mine on the stove top with coconut oil and then placed them out on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.  I think the next time I make them, I'm going to bake them.  I think it will be quicker overall to cook a large batch at once.

The verdict?  The kids loved them (yay!).  Again, even after heating the leftovers up, they were still so moist.  So make sure you do not wring out the liquid that comes from the grated zucchinis.  Enjoy!




Sunday, July 26, 2015

Easy Salsa Slow Cooker Chicken

I really need to use my slow cooker more often.  It makes for an easy-to-clean and quick meal.  This time I decided to try a recipe that my friend Hannah made.  It was delish and so versatile!   Like stew, you can put whatever you want in it.

Ingredients:

-2 chicken breasts (I used partially frozen chicken breasts and 4 chicken thighs, skin off since I was making it for my whole family)
-1 can of drained beans (any kind)
- A handful of baby carrots (because that's the veggie I had)
-1/2 jar of Pace Mild Salsa (I use the 24 oz jar and poured 3/4 of the jar in there because of amount of chicken).  Pace also does not have added sugar.

Directions:

Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Pour 1/2 jar of salsa (or homemade) on top of the chicken.  Throw in whatever veggie you have that need to be cooked.  Set it for 4-5 hrs.  About an hour before it is done, pour in the drained can of beans.  Shred the chicken with a fork.  Voila!  It came out so yummy and moist!  I was thrilled.

I sauteed some onions and bell peppers in some water (yes water.  I try to do that when I can instead of using oil).  We used 100% whole wheat tortillas for the wrap, some quinoa for the "rice", topped it with the salsa chicken, shredded cheese and a little avocado...our homemade and delicious burrito.  You can also add a bit of plain greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute.  It really is similar in taste and so much healthier!

My kids (5.5 and almost 3yo) both ate and enjoyed the meal (adjust accordingly for your kids' preferences).  I haven't had a chance to do it yet, but I plan on maybe baking homemade chips from the tortillas, using the same chicken to top it off for homemade nachos.  Enjoy!



Thursday, July 2, 2015

3 Day Refresh?

I posted earlier about doing the 3 Day Refresh, but didn't talk about why.  It's not like I had weight to lose, right?  Well, that's not what it's about.  Prior to starting, I had a few heavy meals for Father's day and my dad's birthday.  Our family also went to eat out at Red Robin's the following weekend.  I chose a chicken wrap, which was super yummy.  BUT I also ordered the sweet potato fries...healthier than regular fries, right?  That's where my head was anyway.  Needless to say, soon after eating the fries, I felt SOOO uncomfortable and bloated.  I felt that way after the other two heavy meals too, and it didn't feel good.  I was lethargic and I had to lay down on the couch because I felt bloated.  My mind space was not where it needed to be.  Even though I felt bad, I felt snacky and wanted more of the same bad foods.  I was just not with it.



So along comes the Refresh.  I had it already, thinking I wanted to try it but was waiting for an appropriate time.  Voila!  The time arrived.  The Vanilla Fresh shake was actually pretty good.  I was expecting super sweet, but it wasn't (might've helped that I added more water to it).  Because it was more diluted, it seemed to have a slight almond flavor to me.  The fiber sweep was gross, even though the flavor was ok.  Mix it fast and then drink it fast.  Otherwise it keeps getting thicker and thicker...think goopy texture.  Bleh!  The green beans recipe from yesterday's post is one of the recipes you're allowed to have at dinner. 

The first day I was hungry.  I didn't know what to expect and part of my attitude about it all was that I didn't want to do it.  I almost gave in and ate a cracker later in the evening because I was hungry after "dinner."  But I told myself it was only 3 days!!!  By Day 2, I was already used to the amount of food, and Day 3 was a breeze.  It isn't very much food, BUT, I didn't feel starved.  I was hungry, sure, but mainly on the first day, and I think it's because my body was use to feeling much fuller than it needed to be.  The shakes, fruits, and healthy fats you were allowed to eat surprisingly kept me nourished even though it was low in calories.

What are my results?  Less bloat, though you can't tell from the pictures...sorry.  You have to just trust me that along with feeling bloated came the unpleasant effects of it too.  Also, I lost 4 pounds!  I wasn't expecting that part at all.  So, does it work?  Yup.  Is it easy?  Nope, but think of all the prep time you're saving by not cooking much.  haha.  It's not bad, but you can do anything for 3 days and the added weight loss is a plus.

Before                                                                                     After













So what is the 3 day refresh?  Its a 3 day cleanse that is designed to help you lose weight, to help you regain control of your nutrition and to give your body that fresh clean slate it needs to continue making healthy lifestyle choices. The Refresh is a calorie restricted 3 day diet but it will not kill your metabolism or harm your body.  You are eating nutrient dense foods that will give your body the proper nutrition that it needs to function properly each day over the 3 day period.

Why Refresh?


  • You need a break from a period of unhealthy eating.
  • You used to eat pretty well but have recently fallen off the wagon and need some help getting back on.
  • You want to jump start healthy eating habits for a new workout program.
  • You want to quickly lose a few pounds for an upcoming event.
  • You've never been a healthy eater, but are ready to kick start better nutrition for the first time.
  • You want your clothes to fit better.
  • You want more energy.
  • You love food and want to be satisfied while you lose weight and get healthier
  • You've tried liquid fasts or other fad diets and they simply don't work.
What does a day look like while refreshing?
  • Water, lots of water!  In addition to the water you drink in your shakes and teas, we recommend you drink at least half your body weight in ounces of filtered water each day.
  • Breakfast:  Shakeology, plus one fruit option
  • Morning Tea:  1 cup of unsweetened herbal or green tea
  • Late Morning:  Fiber Sweep, a digestive health drink
  • Lunch: Vanilla Fresh shake, plus 1 option from the fruit list, 1 option from the vegetable list, and 1 option from the healthy fats list
  • Afternoon snack: 1 option from the vegetable list, and 1 option from the healthy fats list
  • Afternoon tea: 1 cup of unsweetened herbal tea (caffeine free)
  • Dinner:  Vanilla fresh shake, 1 option from the dinner recipes, and 1 cup of organic vegetable broth (optional)
  • Evening tea:  1 cup of unsweetened herbal tea (caffeine free)

What can you expect when refreshing?  

 Its about 900 calories per day but because the shakes and food selections are high in protein and fiber they  help keep you satiated throughout the day.  If you get a little gas or bloating that is a sign that you need to up your fiber level in general.  Fiber promotes satiety, balances blood sugar, promotes cardiovascular health, and keeps your digestive tract functioning.  Can you exercise?  Yes, but only mild to moderate exercise during the 3 day refresh because the program will be more effective if it can focus on cleansing.

Want to learn more about it?  Click the picture below or comment below.

 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lemony Green Beans

I never thought to use lemon with green beans, but while trying the 3 Day Refresh (I'm on Day 2 now), it was one of the recipes that people reportedly liked.  So I thought I'd give it a try.  Not only was it yummy, but it was quick to cook too!

Given the recipe, one serving equated to about 40 green beans from this brand of French green beans at Costco.  That's about 6 oz.  Of course, if you're not measuring, just cook a bunch and adjust your seasonings accordingly.



I also didn't have a lemon, but I did have lemon juice, so I left out the grated lemon peel.  What a handy dandy bottle.  It's all about quick turn around some times, especially when you're hungry.











6 oz                 green beans, ends trimmed
1 Cup              water
1/2 tsp             extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp                Fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp             finely grated lemon peel
                        sea salt (to taste, optional)

1.  Place green beans and water in medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle boil; cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes, or until tender-crisp.  Remove from heat. Drain.

2.  Combine green beans, oil, lemon juice, and lemon peel in small bowl; mix well.  Sprinkle with salt (if desired).

 Let me know what you think!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Bit Overdue

I mentioned a while ago that I would post pictures from completing 21 Day Fix Extreme.  It's been a while, but I just came back from vacation (what better reason to do a 21 day program?) so now I'm getting around to it.

I liked the exercises in 21 Day Fix Extreme.  You definitely get in, get out, and it's done, and every workout worked my muscles.  But, as we all know, nutrition is key.  I was hoping to get some definition of a 6 pack (it didn't have to be obvious, but definitely noticeable).  Here's what I ended up with.  What do you think?  I think I could have done better with the nutrition piece, but it's what I could do.  Maybe next round I can clean it up even more.

In any case, we went on vacation soon after and enjoyed ourselves.  Because we've been eating relatively cleaner this last year, we didn't overindulge.  Don't get me wrong, we did eat dessert every night (we were on a cruise), and we definitely enjoyed the food (it was much richer than we've been used to on a daily basis).  However, we could've also eaten a lot more and ordered a lot more, but our bodies just didn't want it.  Both the hubs and I were pleased by that.  We also brought our Shakeology with us and had it for breakfast.  We weren't allowed to bring blenders, so we just shook them up with water and we were done.  I think having Shakeology every day also helped us with our nutrition...we didn't feel the need to snack.

Here is a picture of me and the hubs. 


This last picture is of just me.  I did not want to post this picture, as it's not something I'm comfortable sharing.  However, I am proud of what I accomplished, so here it is.  Set your mind to it, be consistent, and it can happen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sweet Potato Cookie

I happened upon an article online that talked about breakfast cookies.  Cookies and breakfast together?  How can that be healthy?  Intrigued, I read on, and found a couple of recipes that I thought was interesting.  What was most interesting to me was the Sweet potato cookie.  (If you don't know why sweet potatoes are healthy, you can find more info here.)  The recipe is Paleo friendly, as it contains no grains whatsoever.  A cookie without flour?  I had to try it out.  Mind you, we are not a Paleo family, but as I'm learning more about it, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try out some recipes.  And as my kids are into sweet potatoes right now, why not make them a "treat" that was healthy at the same time? 

This recipe is adapted from one I found on here.  I actually made the original version first, but found that two eggs made the final product more cake-like and VERY moist.  I couldn't hold up the cookie without it drooping on itself.  The taste, however, was superb!  So after browsing around some more, I decided to use one egg instead of two.  The result was a cookie that held up to being held up.  :)  It didn't have the crispness that I'd want in a cookie (I like crisp and chewy cookies), so it won't pack well, but again, the flavor was yum.  Try it out!  You won't be disappointed.  At the very least, if it doesn't hold up, just use the crumbles like you would for a brownie sundae, but with half the guilt.  Haha.  You can always change the fixins' too (the last 4 ingredients on the list) to make it even healthier.

Be warned: the cookie concoction is runny, but don't worry, it'll puff up in the oven.  No need to add any flour into it.  Also, I find this to be good enough as a desert.

Ingredients
Makes about 18-20 cookies
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato purée (I baked a whole sweet potato in aluminum foil for about 40 minutes on 350 degrees F while I was baking sweet potato fries for the kids—scooped out and mashed the insides)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. finely ground salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
Method
1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2)  Beat together the almond butter, sweet potato, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla with a rubber spatula.
3)  Add in the baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt—stir until well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
4)  Fold in the peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, walnuts and dried cranberries. Carefully pour small circles of batter onto a lined baking sheet (roughly 1 1/2 teaspoons each, though I pretty much just eyeballed it).  I used parchment paper the first two times around and it held up.  The third time (yes, I've made this 3 times already), I used both parchment paper on two baking sheets, and then a silpat on another baking sheet.  The silpat had the most solid cookie-like results in terms of stability).
5)  Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before diving in. Be careful removing the cookies from the pan—they can be fragile. Store in an airtight container for 5 days and enjoy as a breakfast treat or on-the-go snack all week.

Final disclaimer: I am not to be blamed by how many cookies you end up eating.  I'm having a hard time keeping myself from eating them.  :)  I'm thinking these aren't 21 Day Fix Extreme approved.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ever Feel Like This...

Like the previous post I made, there are so many things in our schedules that drive our day...some good, some not so good.  Ever feel like no matter how hard you try, you didn't do something as well as you wanted?  The presentation didn't go off without a hitch.  Your carefully planned vacation was ruined by a sudden rainstorm.  A particularly difficult client blew up at you no matter how much you've bent over backwards to appease them.  Your workout sucked. 

Going through a rough patch at work, I've tried to keep things in perspective.  It's hard to remain objective, but it is important to do.  I am constantly reminding myself to let go of the things I cannot control.  That irate customer?  I did the best I could do (as did many of the other people involved), and they are still irate.  That is not in my control.  A bad presentation?  Your lethargic workout?  It is now over and done with.  I'm not saying to shirk responsibility.  Learn from it, but then let go of the things you cannot control.  It serves no purpose other than to bring you down.  Don't dwell on it (I know, easier said than done).  Just know that tomorrow is a new day.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

So much to do, so little time

Ever feel like you're a chicken running around with your head cut off?  I'm sure if you're anything like me, there are more days than you want to admit that you feel this way.  Whatever happened to the organized person I used to be?  The one who would prep work or dinner ahead of time?  The person who would remind others when things are due?  What happened???

 Kids happened.  Haha.  I love my kids, don't get me wrong, but the constant barrage of stepping on toys on the floor, or the cleaning up of spilled milk (like tonight) or the picking up off the ground of newly cut apples without the skin (also tonight) can get to you.  I am forever grateful for my children and for the joy (and tribulations) I receive from them.  There comes a time when things get crazy for whatever reason.  The kids are still the same, but your mind is in a different place.  Maybe it's because of work (yes!) or because of other reasons.

We are so inundated with work schedules, school schedules, life schedules.  We work ourselves to a frenzy and maybe are able to take a little time for ourselves to work out, to recuperate.  That's what I needed tonight. I needed my kids to go to bed so I can get my 30 minutes of workout in (tonight it was Pilates Fix Extreme).  It wasn't my best workout, but it was definitely needed.

How often do you feel this way?  Some thing I just have to let it go for another day.  Remember...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Healthy Chocolate Pudding

OMG, this is so yummy!  I've been doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts and trying to follow the meal plan.  There are no cheats on this plan...no wine (though I don't drink), no chocolate.  And of course, when you're not allowed to eat something, that is the EXACT something that you want to eat.  Well, looking through the meal plan, I came across the chocolate pudding recipe.   It's soo good, and I don't feel any guilt eating it at all.  It's a 1/2 red, 1/2 yellow, and 1/2 blue container.  Yummy goodness.
Makes 4 servings, approximately 1/2 cup each

1.5 scoops         Chocolate Shakeology
1                        Ripe Medium avocado
1                        medium banana, cut into chunks
1 C                    unsweetened almond milk

1. Place Shakeology, avocado, banana, and almond milk in blender.  Blend until smooth (If too thick, add additional almond milk).

2. Pour into 4 dessert cups; refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chicken Fajitas

It's always fun to try out new recipes.  Because of 21 DFX, I've been looking for some that follow the plan.  It's like research...would I make it again?  If so, and when I'm not on the meal plan, how can I make it better?  In any case, I made this according to the recipe and it was delish! 

I didn't have red bell peppers, otherwise I think the picture would have been prettier.  I am no photographer, obviously.  The picture doesn't do it justice.  Also, the tomatoes I used were on the riper side, so the salsa ended up more like a chunky sauce.  Still yummy though.

Makes approximately 4 services, 2 fajitas each

1 tsp               chili powder
1/2 tsp            sea salt or Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp            ground cumin
1/2 tsp            garlic powder
2 tsp               olive oil, divided use
4 (5-6 oz)       raw chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1                     medium red (or green) bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1                     medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp            fresh lime juice
8                     Large romaine (or butter) lettuce leaves
1/2                  Medium avocado, thinly sliced
1 C                  fresh salsa

1. Combine chili powder, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and 1 tsp oil in large resealable plastic bag.
2. Add chicken, bell pepper, and onion; mix gently to coat.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
3. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat
4. Empty contents of bag into skillet; cook, stirring frequently, for 5-6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
5. Remove from heat. Add lime juice.
6. Evenly top lettuce leaves with chicken mixture, avocado, and salsa.

I forgot to add the avocado, and I actually didn't cook this the same day I prepped it.  I prepared this on the weekend, and then used it later in the week.  As a matter of fact, we went to a kid's birthday party right around dinner time.  I knew there would be pizza and that THAT is not 21dfx approved, so I had a couple servings of cottage cheese first, to tie me over.  Once we got home, I cooked this and about 10 minutes later, was eating.  Yum.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Healthier General Cho's Chicken


Since doing 21 Day Fix Extreme, I need to find alternative foods to stay within the meal plan.  The thing about the meal plan is actually planning.  So I've been spending a day during the weekend looking up different recipes to try.  I came across a recipe of General Cho's Chicken.  Go visit a Chinese Restaurant and you will likely see a version that's deep fried.  Who doesn't like deep fried food?  I do, but we know that that type of food isn't healthy.  Try this instead.



Ingredients:
1 lb. raw chicken breast, boneless, skinless, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cornstarch, divided use
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 thin slice fresh ginger, peeled, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
½ cup low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste, no added sugar
2 tsp. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. pure maple syrup (or raw honey)
2 Tbsp. cold water
2 green onions, sliced
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp. dried Thai chilies (optional) 


Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
3. Place chicken, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl; toss until well coated.
4. Place chicken in a single layer on prepared baking sheet; bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
5. While chicken is baking, heat oil, garlic, and ginger in large skillet over medium heat; cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Add soy sauce, broth, vinegar, tomato paste, hoisin sauce, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
7. Dissolve remaining 1 tsp. cornstarch in cold water; add to soy sauce mixture. Gently boil, stirring frequently, for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.
8. Add cooked chicken to sauce, coating thoroughly.
9. Serve chicken sprinkled with sesame seeds, green onions, and chilies (if desired).


Enjoy!  Children approved also. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

My thoughts on 21 Day Fix Extreme So Far

So far, I'm really digging 21 Day Fix Extreme.  It's 30 minutes so I know I'll be done within a certain amount of time.  Also, knowing it's 30 minutes pushes me to just get it done instead of procrastinating.  I didn't do the original 21 Day Fix program so I can't compare it to that.  But I CAN compare it to the previous workouts I've done.

I'm only 5 days into it and I'm liking the soreness that comes from these exercises.  I never thought I was a weights person (and these are light weights too!).  After all, I started on PIYO and LOVED that because it didn't have weights and I still got a great workout in.  However, there were days that I wished I would feel that soreness that comes from taxing your muscles.  I only got that soreness when I played volleyball the whole day after not playing for a long time, so I was missing it.  I am definitely feeling the muscle pain now.  It's not ridiculous to the point where I can't walk, but it's a good constant reminder that I'm changing my body.

I'll post pictures later.

Yummy Turkey Meatloaf

Since I'm doing 21 Day Fix Extreme currently, I'm doing my best to try to follow the nutrition program too. Here is a recipe that was super easy to make. I made it ahead of time for us to have for dinner later in the week. Super yummy. The picture does not do it justice. Just make sure the salsa you use does not have a lot of salt. If it does, bypass the added salt.  This was a mistake that I made, but it was still yummy.  Enjoy! 




2 lbs raw (93%) lean ground turkey
1 Cup all-natural mild salsa (I used medium and it added a nice kick.  It was also all I had at the time
)
1 Cup cooked quinoa, cooled
2 Large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
Ground pepper to taste (optional)
Fresh chopped parsley (for garnish, optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine turkey, salsa, quinoa, eggs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl; mix well by hand or with a rubber spatula
3. Shape mixture into shape of a loaf and place on ungreased 13x9 inch baking pan.
4. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until center is no longer pink and meat is cooked through.
5. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
6. Serve garnished w/parsley.

You can also cut the cooked meatloaf into single servings and freeze for future meals. Delicious!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Insanity Max 30 Done!

I've completed Insanity Max 30!  I never thought I would ever do a program like that.  After watching my siblings do the original Insanity workout once, I shook my head and said I'd never do it.   I'm not a cardio girl at all.  In high school, I hated running laps, running the mile, whatever.  I could play volleyball all day, but doing those cardio exercises sucked!  In any case, I saw this program and thought, why not?  It's only 30 minutes and I wanted the challenge.

Two weeks into doing the unmodified moves, I threw out my back doing nothing.  I had an old back injury from college that flared up.  I couldn't walk or sit down without extreme pain.  I had to take a week off to recover.  After that, I did all the moves modified.  It was still a hard program to complete, as cardio is difficult for me.  However, I was bummed about not being able to complete it doing the unmodified version.  I am competitive with myself, and I was interested to see how much I could improve on my max out time.  On some of those exercises though, I could barely make it to 10 minutes DOING the modified, so I think overall it was a good mix.

I liked the program.  It was quick and dirty.  I definitely think it improved my cardio.  And the fact that you can make it so the modifier is on a split screen while working out was truly helpful.  Interested in trying it?  Contact me!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Cabbage Roll Casserole

I bought cabbage last weekend with the thought that I can chop it up and add it to a salad.  None of the recipes appealed to me though, for some reason.  Maybe because unless it's in coleslaw, I wasn't all that fond of the taste of raw cabbage.  In any case, I went to allrecipes.com, and searched "cabbage."  I decided to try this as I had most of the ingredients.  And it was SUPER EASY.  After cooking the meat, onions, and garlic in my dutch oven, that was it.  I put the rest of the ingredients in and let it bake away.  If you don't have a dutch oven, follow the directions below. 



Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef (or turkey...I mixed mine)
1 C chopped onions
1 (29oz) can tomato sauce (I used a jar of spaghetti sauce)
3 1/2 pounds of chopped cabbage
1 C uncooked white rice (I used a mix of brown and red)
2  cans (14oz) beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
2.  In a large skillet, brown beef in oil over medium high heat until redness is gone. Drain off fat 
3.  In a large mixing bowl combine the onion, tomato sauce, cabbage, rice and salt. Add meat and mix all together. Pour mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Pour broth over meat mixture and bake in the preheated oven, covered, for 1 hour. Stir, replace cover and bake for another 30 minutes. 

I did all of this while heating up food for my kids.  And now we will have a yummy meal for the remainder of the week too!  If you don't want rice, my guess is that you can use cooked quinoa to mix in at the end to substitute for the rice. (I did not try putting uncooked quinoa into the recipe).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are yummy.  Growing up in a Chinese family, this root was not in our typical food fare at home.  In fact, the only time it came up (and only when we were in college) was during Thanksgiving meals, when my mother would make yams with some marshmallows to "try" to be traditional.


In any case, with a family of my own, I'm trying out different ways to get my kids to eat different veggies.  I was roasting butternut squash for them recently, and thought to do the same with sweet potatoes.  Yes I know...duh.  But it's not in my repertoire of I-don't-need-to-think-about-how-to-make-Chinese-food-recipes, so that's my excuse.

There are multiple sites out there that will explain the benefits of sweet potatoes up the wazoo.  I'll just summarize them here for you.

1)  A medium sized sweet potato contains more than your daily requirement of vitamin A, nearly a third the vitamin C you need, almost 15 percent of your daily dietary fiber intake and 10 percent of the necessary potassium.

2)  The natural sugars in sweet potatoes are slowly released into the bloodstream, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy, without the blood sugar spikes that can make you tired and gain weight.

3)  They have anti-inflammatory agents that may help with arthritis, stomach ulcers, emphysema, and your digestive tract.

4)  And most importantly, they are versatile.  You can roast, puree, bake, or steam them.  Put them in stews or in soups. Easy to use and yummy too.