Monthly Archives: May 2015

How to Make your Weeknights Easier

Happy hump day!  We’re moving right along this week!  I tried a little bit of a different approach to meals for the week and so far it’s making my weeknights a thousand times better.  Yesterday I shared with you my mason jar chicken salads that I prepped for lunches for the week.  All I have had to do in the mornings is brew some coffee (every other day, anyway… I usually brew a pot and put the leftovers in the fridge to make iced coffee every other morning), throw my bread in the toaster for my breakfast, and grab a mason jar chicken salad out of the fridge.

breakfast sunflower butter

mason jar salad

Along with the chicken salads, I also made a cheeseburger casserole so all I have had to do after work was scoop some into a bowl, pop it in the microwave, and enjoy!  I like to add the pickles and a little extra ketchup and mustard to mine to make it really taste like a cheeseburger.  I also used whole grain pasta, and it turned out super filling and delicious.

cheeseburger casserole

dinner

While I was working hard in the kitchen, I got really ambitious and made some chocolate chip cookies too.  A while ago my friend had given me this recipe along with instructions to replace the butter in the recipe with 1 stick of butter and 1/2 of a brick of cream cheese.  They are delicious.  If you’re looking for a little evening pick-me-up I would highly recommend them.

With meals for the day ready to go I had time to hit a hot yoga class after work, come home and eat, and spend the rest of the evening relaxing!

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Lunch for the Week: Mason Jar Chicken Salads

On Sunday I decided to try an experiment for lunches this week.  I have seen a few articles online about putting salads in mason jars.  Not only does it look delicious, but it keeps your dressing on the bottom and lettuce on the top so that it doesn’t get soggy by the end of the week.  It’s also a major selling point that Ball mason jars are around $10 for a 9-12 jar pack and are made of glass.  I made traditional chicken salads for mine, but there are tons of different options out there.  This Buzzfeed article lists 18 different types of salads with links to the recipes.

Mason Jar Chicken Salads

Mason Jar Chicken Salads

Makes 8 mason jar salads.  Cut ingredients in half if cooking for one.

Ingredients:

– yogurt bleu cheese dressing

– balsamic vinegar

– 6 baby cucumbers, sliced

– 1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms

– 3 bell peppers, diced

– 2 lbs of cooked chicken breast (I used chipotle pepper seasoning on mine)

– 1 bag baby spinach

Instructions:

1. Chop and cook chicken as desired.

2. Layer the ingredients in order of the list above (first to last) so that the dressing is on the bottom.

3. Stock the fridge, grab on your way out the door, and enjoy!

I enjoyed mine with a side of fruit and a few pieces of dark chocolate.

Why I Quit Counting Calories

It is so easy to get sucked into the mindset that our daily food intake must fall within a certain calorie range.  We should eat 1,200 calories per day, we definitely don’t want to eat too much fruit, and bananas and corn are horrific carbs in disguise.

When I began my health quest, about 5 years ago, I started out counting calories.  I would diligently log my food intake and try to find ways to cut out calories.  Substituting in diet this, and sugar-free that… there were so many different ways to cheat the system and be able to eat “free” foods.  You know the old saying though, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”… well you see where I’m going with this.  There are many people who have been successful on diets like this, but at the end of the day it wasn’t healthy for me.  Even if I miraculously made it through the day feeling full and clear minded, it was only a matter of time until I crashed.

So you might be thinking, “there are ways to track your calories without consuming diet, chemical filled foods”.  And you are absolutely correct.  So that’s where I headed next in my journey.  But yet again, I found myself obsessing over calories and feeling guilty for splurging or beating myself up if I did the unthinkable and went a day without hitting the gym.

It’s a slippery slope when you start going down that path.  You save up your calorie bank for weekend plans, you panic when someone asks you to go out to lunch mid-week, and you become completely consumed.  Somewhere along the way though a lightbulb went off.  I had to break the cycle of extreme diet and exercise followed by a crash and a rut.  I needed balance.  But realizing it and achieving it are totally different things.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to listen to your body and understand what it needs.  Especially if you are an emotional eater or if you are living in a dynamic environment where you can’t always pin down how it is you’re feeling.  I’ve seen a lot of bloggers talk about Intuitive eating, and to be completely honest I didn’t think it was something I could relate to.  But when I just recently read the 10 principles I realized that they nailed it.  The 10 principles of Intuitive Eating express so well exactly what is important to find peace with food and be able to balance eating when you need to eat and doing so consciously.  I know it sounds super cheesy, but lifestyles and diets are not one size fits all.  And the only way for me to really know what my body needed was to quiet all of the outside noise and just listen.  Sure, I splurge on weekends, or feel like I need a detox day or 2 to get things back on track.  But I have yet to hit that rut that results in crashing and obsessing, and that my friends, is why I quit counting calories.

Thursday Eats

Good morning!  Just checking in to give you a quick update on the menu this morning:

Breakfast – 1 slice of whole wheat bread with Wild Friends’ Maple Sunflower Butter and a side of fresh blackberries and raspberries:

maple sunflower butter

Lunch: I was feeling extra hungry this morning so I decided to pack the old lunchmeat sandwich.  I only use 1 slice of bread though so that I feel less guilty about the side of chips:

lunch

Snack: yogurt and a banana (if needed)

I am changing up my work schedule a bit today so that I can try to make a 4:30 yoga class on the way home, so I’m hoping that is a success.  Gotta run, have a great day!

Trick Yourself Into Drinking More Water

Happy hump day, my friends! At the beginning of last week I completely forgot my water bottle that I usually bring to work.  I was trying to think of a pop machine that I could get a bottle of water when I realized I had a cup with a straw in my office that I had received on my first week of work.  Little did I know this one little mishap was going to lead to a revelation.

After I washed that baby out and filled it with water, I found I was sucking down water faster than I could keep up with running to the water cooler.  That’s when it dawned on me… the straw.  I know for many people this isn’t knew knowledge, but for me it was one of those ‘ah ha!’ moments when I realized something that should have been clear as day.  The straw was enabling me to drink more water at a quicker pace than I did with any water bottle.

So then I got to thinking… what other tips can you use to trick yourself into drinking more water throughout the day?

1. Use a straw

I now know why all of those water bottles with straws are such a fad.  They actually do work and serve a legitimate purpose besides just looking trendy and cool.  I go through about 5 of these throughout the work day since the transition.

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2. Drink carbonated water in place of other beverages

I have recently come to love carbonated water.  I have tried a few of the La Croix and Wegman’s flavors and I can’t say there has been one that I didn’t love.  Even just plain, it is a great way to spice things up.  And the added carbonation helps you feel a little fuller.

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3. Use frozen fruit as ice cubes

If you’re struggling with getting plain old water down and you need a little natural sweetness, this is a great way to add it without all the extra ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

4. Add a lemon

If you’re wondering about all of the health benefits of lemon, check out this post from January with an abundance of lemon knowledge.  Lemons are great for you in so many different ways, the only thing you may want to consider is using that straw, because it’s rough on the enamel of your teeth.

5. Don’t begin your next meal until you finish your current glass of water

I’m not really sure at what point I started getting myself into the habit of doing this but it seems to be effective.  Whether you have 1 glass of water or 3 glasses of water between meals, do not begin eating that next meal until you have finished the glass of water you are working on.  Not only does this up your water intake, but it also helps to eliminate that feeling of super starvation that leads to overeating.

What tricks do you use to drink more water?

Baja Fish Tacos & Workout Recap

Happy Tuesday… one day closer to our beloved Friday!  And I have an awesome recipe to share with you today.  Last night on the way home from work I picked up the ingredients to make Baja Fish Tacos.  I was in luck because the avocados were ripe and the fish was lookin’ good.  Recipe makes about 4 tacos and takes around 20 minutes to make:

Baja Fish Tacos

Ingredients:

– 1 lb cod filet

– olive oil

– chipotle pepper seasoning

– 1 bag red cabbage slaw

– 1/4 cup mayo

– drizzle of honey

– salt/pepper

– chopped cilantro

– juice of 2 limes

– 1 avocado

– fresh salsa

– whole grain tortilla shells

Cover the cod filet with olive oil, the juice of one lime, chipotle chili powder, and chopped cilantro.  Grill on high heat for approximately 10-12 minutes.

baja fish tacos

While the fish is grilling, mix the bag of cabbage slaw, mayo, juice of 1 lime, a drizzle of honey, and chopped cilantro to taste.

red cabbage slaw

Top a wheat tortilla with the cooked fish, cabbage slaw, 1/4 of an avocado, and a healthy dose of salsa:

Baja Fish Tacos

Enjoy!

In other exciting news, I think I have finally gotten back on track with a workout routine.  Here’s a quick recap of this past week’s workouts:

Sunday – Pittsburgh Half Marathon (13.1 miles, woohoo!)

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 2.25 mile run

Wednesday – 3.1 mile run

Thursday – rest

Friday – rest

Saturday – hot yoga

Sunday – 3.5 mile run

Have a great day!

Yoga, Big Little Lies, Pizza, & Orchids

The theme for the weekend at our house was relaxation.  We finally had a weekend to kick our feet up and enjoy some nice weather.  I’m pretty sure it just went from winter to summer in Buffalo.  Holy crap, it was hot!  But, I’m certainly not going to complain.

Saturday morning I woke up to find that my orchid is finally in bloom!  I have had this particular plant for about 3 years and this is the first time it has bloomed, so I was feeling pretty excited and proud of myself.  There was a time that I thought it might not make it.

Orchid

After I grabbed the plant and ran in to show Kris (like it was Christmas morning), I got my act together and headed out for a sweaty hot yoga class.  It has been a while since I’ve been to a yoga class and it felt really great to get back in the studio.  After yoga we took the little beester to the dog park and then spent the day relaxing.  It was so nice to sit outside and read in the sun.  It is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

La Croix

(I am loving the different La Croix water flavors.)  This weekend I finished reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  I really enjoyed the book and I would highly recommend it to anyone.  And I also discovered that HBO is creating a series based off of the book, so I’m interested to see what that will be like.

Saturday evening we decided to check out a pizza place that we had heard great reviews about, and it was amazing.  Rocco’s Coal Fired Pizza has an inviting family atmosphere with a nice bar scene in the back.  Plus the pagers are pieces of pizza…

Pizza & Beer

How cool is that?  After dinner we even stopped and got ice cream.  I chose Ben & Jerry’s That’s my Jam.  Yum.  I love chocolate and raspberry and this ice cream has chocolate and raspberry ice cream with a jam in the middle, so it was perfect.

Ben & Jerry's

Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early and went for a run with B and it was HOT.

Garmin run

Later in the day we went to brunch, followed by more lounging and recovering from all of the craziness that has been going on in our lives lately.

Mother's Day

 

I felt really sad that I couldn’t be with my mom and grandma on Mother’s Day.  So far the Buffalo transition hasn’t been too terrible, but I realized that it was the first Mother’s Day that we haven’t all been together, and it was a little difficult.  I often find myself getting emotional about growing up and going out into the world.  It’s such a cruel irony how badly you want to grow up when you are young, and how much you want to be young again when you’re an adult.  I guess the best thing you can do is enjoy each day in the present.

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(source)

(Cheesy, I know.  But true.)  I hope you have a wonderful start to the week!

Finance Friday – What is Living within your Means?

Happy Friday!!! Thank goodness we have finally made it and the weather here in Buffalo is supposed to be beautiful this weekend.  There is nothing quite like knowing you are on the brink of a great weather weekend to get you pumped up for the day!

But first, I’m bringing back Finance Fridays.  Today’s topic is something that many people probably struggle with and just so happens to be a question you ask yourself quite often when you’re making big decisions (like buying a house??). How do you know if you are living within your means??  And what does that even mean??

You probably know what your parents have done, you know what your friends appear to be doing, but when you cut the crap and get straight to the heart of the issue, could you really define what is within your means?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a magic formula that will give you a straight yes or no answer, but I did find this article on Yahoo that has some great tips:

8 Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means

I shared on the blog a few days ago that Kris and I are building a house, so obviously this is a time in our lives that we really need to make sure that we are living within our means.  But even between the two of us, we each have slightly different ideas of what that looks like.  Does this mean that one of us is right and one is wrong?  I don’t think living within your means is really a one size fits all, but I do know that it is a balancing act between living in the moment and preparing for the future (retirement, anyone?).

In a world where credit is easily accessible, decisions are made with the click of a button, business/jobs are constantly changing, and social media paints a picture that isn’t always true, it’s hard to know what the right answer is.  But I think these 8 signs are a nice benchmark to make you really take a look at some of the important things to consider when you evaluate whether you are living within your means.

So in conclusion, at the very minimum:

– Don’t make decisions based on keeping up with friends,

– Keep a monthly budget,

– Put money from every paycheck straight into a savings account,

– and have an emergency fund.

If you at least do these things, you’re on the right track.

savings meme

(source)

And on that note, I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Habanero Ranch Chicken Salads

Good morning, friends!  Today I’d like to share a little recipe that we threw together for dinner last night that turned out delicious!

Kris and I are both lucky if we can be home by 5pm on weeknights, so when it comes to dinners we like quick, healthy, and simple ingredients.  This simple chicken salad turned out great.  The only thing that took a little time was the roasted potatoes (but it’s easy to multitask while they are baking).

Habanaro Ranch Chicken Salad Recipe

Habanero Ranch Chicken Salads

Ingredients:

– 2 chicken breasts

– olive oil

– oven roasted potatoes (I used Montreal steak seasoning in place of garlic salt this time)

– lettuce (we used a spring mix with baby spinach)

– banana peppers

– ranch

– hot sauce

– 2 slices of cheese (Habanero Monterey Jack from Target, mmmmmm)

Instructions: While the potatoes are baking, grill chicken or sear in a pan with olive oil and desired seasoning.  Once chicken is cooked, melt 2 slices of cheese on top.  Top lettuce with chicken, roasted potatoes, banana peppers, and add hot sauce and ranch as desired for dressing.

Oven roasted potatoes

Healthy chicken breast

Target Habanero Monterey Jack Cheese

yogurt ranch dressing hot sauce

Just as a side note – I cannot tell the difference between regular ranch and this Wegman’s Ranch Yogurt Dressing, which is a major win.

Warning – this hot sauce is HOT.  Use sparingly (don’t make the same mistakes I did)!

Cinco de Mayo Margaritas for Two

Happy hump day! Last night, in honor of cinco de mayo, Kris talked me into having a margarita with dinner.  I was a little reluctant at first… as much as I love a drink after work I feel like I haven’t been eating the best… but then again, I am easily peer pressured.

IMG_3460

So Kris made the margaritas and they turned out awesome.  We threw together some ingredients we had on hand and didn’t even have to use a sugar and preservative-filled drink mix.  Here is the recipe:

Cinco de Mayo Margaritas for Two

Ingredients:

– crushed ice

– 2 shots tequilla

– 1/2 shot triple sec

– 1 teaspoon sugar

– juice from 2 limes

– salt to taste (we added a decent amount)

Mix ingredients in drink shaker, serve in margarita glasses (line with salt, if you prefer) 🙂

I have to admit we weren’t very festive with our choice of dinner though… we had sloppy joes and margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.  At least we got it half right?

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