Healthy Eats On Instagram : My Top Picks

8 Jul

Joyinabowl

They say that an imagine is worth a thousand words! I tend to agree. In today’s busy world eating healthy is definitely a lifestyle. It’s a choice that takes effort in terms of selecting the right foods and preparing them the right way, but it comes with Oh So Many rewards.

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While most people know how to chop up a salad or boil a pot of pasta, we don’t always know which combinations go best together, we might not be aware of the nutritional benefits of certain foods, or simply lack inspiration when it comes to cooking on certain days.

Sometimes all it takes is a little help from your friends!  For me, it literally takes 30 seconds browsing my Instagram news feed for instant inspiration and often a bit of involuntary drooling. Watching mouthwatering dishes prepared by people I follow based on their healthy choices not only awakens my creativity but also fuels my passion and…

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The Best Burger

14 Jul

  
Dan and I love entertaining especially over the summer when the BBQ is involved. Last weekend we had my sister and cousins and their kids over for dinner. When planning my grocery list and menu I decided that although all the kids are under 10 and we were making easy peasy burgers and dogs I would get some more adult toppings for our burgers. I decided on caramelized onions, balsamic roasted Roma tomatoes and arugula. The result? Totally delish! 

   
    
    
    
    
   
My Gourmet Backyard Burgers

Here’s what I did:

Dan seasoned the burger patties with Meat Magic spices and made a well with him thumb and filled the well with Worcestershire sauce. 

I took 5 Roma tomatoes and sliced them in half lengthwise, I placed them in a baking dish and sprinkled them with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, then drizzled it with about three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then about a tablespoon and a half of balsamic vinegar. I roasted the tomatoes in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes, flipped them, then another 35-40 minutes. I then squished them lightly with the back of a wooden spoon to just break their form.

I caramelized the onions by slicing some sweet yellow onions thinly, adding them to a pan heated with olive oil. I added salt lightly and about two-three tablespoons of white sugar. I carefully made sure to move the onions around the pan so they wouldn’t burn. I cooked them over medium low heat until they turned golden brown. 

I then build the burgers. With mild cheddar cheese, the tomatoes, onions and arugula on a sweet roll. There  was no need for any sauces because the meat and toppings were all so flavorful and juicy. So excellent! 

A Breath Of Fresh Air

18 Mar

If you’ve been reading along, you will know that I’m trying to change my relationship with food and to do that I have to retrain my brain. My automatic response to stress is to eat something, my response to sadness is to eat something, to an exciting event- to eat something in a celebratory fashion, and so on (you can see where this is going). And this is a very hard task to tackle. Today I woke up already exhausted, even though I fell asleep on the couch at 9 pm last night. The husband was out of the house as soon as my alarm went off at 6 am, the kids both woke up early making it extremely difficult to get ready and out the door on time, the cat barfed all over the place- you get the picture. So feeling rather BLAH and having to much to do to take lunch at my normal time I was drawn to go get something cheesy, maybe salty, maybe carbolicious, maybe greasy… but instead I took a short drive to a nearby regional park and got some fresh air for my lunch hour. It may be less satiating than a juicy burger but I get to feel better about my choices. 



St. Patrick’s Day Fun

17 Mar

When I was pregnant with my daughter I had this vision of the kind of parent I would be. I thought I would be the mom who never gave her child processed food, who would never use a TV as a babysitter for a moment, who was easy breezy and would let my children freely express themselves creatively regardless of the messes that would be created, etc. But things do not always go the way we invision them. Although the thought of my daughter painting anywhere on my property makes my skin crawl (yes, I’ve discovered I have a slight OCD issue with messes) and I just can’t seem to get around to making all my family’s food from scratch I have made a concerted effort to be a ‘fun mom’. Now note I don’t want to be a ‘cool mom’ i.e. a mom who lets their kids get away with everything and anything. I would like my kids to grow up and remember the fun and surprising things that I would do for them and with them. To that vein I have decided to make a big deal over all the holidays- even the silly ones.

For St. Patrick’s Day I decided that the leprechauns would come by to our house to bring something special to the kids- but I let my daughter know that leprechauns only come to bring treasures to little girls who wear green nail polish. So I picked up some forest green polish at Target (yay clearance).

Which she loved- she calls them ‘leprechaun nails’. I picked up a couple little things for the leprechauns to leave her, a green shirt, necklace, and a green My Little Pony. I did just a little decorating since I made them and I picked up some little gifts for my coworkers.

A lucky charm treat for my coworkers. I made little ‘rainbow seeds’ packs for my student workers and some white chocolate dipped pretzels with green sprinkles for my little munchkin. 

My mom used to always make Irish Soda bread for us when we were growing up so I decided to make some for my family. I cannot wait to try it tonight with the Irish Stew I have going in the crockpot!

Even though St. Patrick’s Day is not a major holiday for us, I still thought it would be fun to make a big deal and create some family traditions and memories. Maddie was so excited to wear her new green shirt and necklace and play with her pony- not to mention eat her treats!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Resetting Expectations – Clean Eating Challenge

24 Feb

So I started this year out with a big goal of losing the baby weight, but not just that: getting my strong, lean, muscular body and energy back. Unfortunately I did not do measurements when I started so it’s difficult to track my progress that way, so I rely on two factors to tell me how I am doing. 1. the scale (my natural foe) and 2. the way my clothes fit – or don’t fit… So although I have kept up with my resolution to be a better stronger version of myself this year and hit the gym with consistency each week, there were definitely some times when I fell off the wagon with eating right. Like Valentine’s Day weekend when I fell off the wagon into a ditch on the side of the road then rolled into a lake full of dark chocolate covered peanut butter sea salt caramel truffles and cream puffs… and champagne… and steak… and ok, we’ll stop there. So with that being said (and done) I began my 10-day Clean Eating Reset Cleanse on the Monday after Valentine’s Day. I am on day 9 today.

I was first introduced to Clean Eating Reset Cleanse (the name I have dubbed it) by a good friend of mine, Amy who had been given it by a friend. Now compared to The Whole 30 my little reset is kids stuff. This is not a cleanse where you eat nothing for days on end and pretend like you wouldn’t murder your closest friend for a candy bar. This is not a juicing cleanse where you get nothing solid and am supposed to be ‘totally fine’ with that. This is a 10 day return to what is good and healthy and what your body is meant to consume. It is an elimination diet of sorts and that means it’s going to be hard, you are going to miss the foods that you eat all the time, the junk, the bread, the candy, the coffee, the alcohol, etc. You are going to crave them, your nose is going to linger as pass by the bakery at the market, the neighborhood Starbucks, heck, the burger joint your family is going to eat at that you simply does not coincide with your diet plan. I have done this cleanse twice, both with great success, I felt great, I lost weight, and I learned about what eliminating some food categories from my diet could do to help me feel like this all the time.

To help me with my goals, I set myself (silent) alarms on my phone as little reminders at different times of the day, like “make good choices” (keeping myself accountable), “your willpower is stronger than your craving” (for encouragement), etc. Sometimes you just need a little affirmation to help you get past that moment or hour of wanting something that you shouldn’t have. And because I believe in the saying “A goal without a plan is just wish” so I also made sure to make myself a meal plan on excel a couple days before I began the cleanse so that I would know exactly what foods I needed to buy and what I was going to be eating, this allowed me to think outside the box on what different foods I could eat and get some variety. One of the most important things to me is not getting caught in a situation where I don’t have any ‘cleanse friendly’ foods and either lose my mind because I am starving and cannot eat anything, or worse, eat things that are not in the plan. I was able to use the plan to effectively grocery shop in advance to be sure I had all the items I need on hand, since getting to the market after working all day and commuting with two kids under 5 at their dinner time, in the dark – is pretty much my nightmare.

Rules: Never: alcohol, dairy, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed food, wheat
Day Rule
1,2,9,10 Eat only: white meat, fish, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains
3,4,5,6,7,8, Eat only: fish, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains

Here is a sample of my plan: Day 3:

Breakfast Hard boiled egg(s)
Lunch carrots/celery and plain hummus, banana
Snack natural popcorn- no butter
Dinner Oven baked salmon with roasted brussels sprouts

The original cleanse called for 20 minutes of low impact exercise- such as a walk each day, but I am working out in the gym with cardio and weight lifting as well as doing some videos of no-equipment workouts I’ve found online (thanks Pinterest!)  like this Bikini Belly Bootcamp video from Pop Sugar (fitsugar.com).

For me, the processed foods (i.e. bread and crackers), candy, cookies, and cheese were by far the hardest. I have offered the cleanse plan to friends who are interested in doing something more regimented than just ‘cutting calories’ but often they cannot part with their coffee or soda habits, my very lactose intolerant friend ironically cannot part with cheese for 10 days. I’ve found though that it’s not that your body cannot take the withdrawal, it’s your mind setting up limitations for you. Do I want a grilled cheese sandwich right now? O my, yes! But I know that this is a challenge I can complete and I will.

I know that I can live without these things that are not good for my body, I know that I can be a stronger, healthier me without them. I feel proud that I have not swayed, even though I was so tempted to (with my hubby eating all the remaining  truffles and my niece selling us 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies). I hope that you can take a challenge, this challenge perhaps and feel as good as I do.

Here are some of the meals I have made:

Baked eggs with sauteed spinach, garlic, & red bell peppers.

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Oven baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and a quinoa vegetable pilaf.

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Chicken seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne powder sauteed with green beans.

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Becoming A Sun(screen) Worshipper

29 Dec

As I just turned 30, I am realizing that there are a lot of things that I have put off doing for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I am putting things off because of not prioritizing the money for it (like travel), sometimes it’s because I’m lazy or forgetful (like backing up my computer hard drive so I don’t lose all the pictures of my kids) and other times it’s because I know it will be unpleasant (like avoiding getting the flu shot). So today I finally stopped putting off something that I knew would be unpleasant, going to the dermatologist to be checked for anything suspicious.
Living a healthy lifestyle includes more than just eating right and hitting the gym more, to me it also means being sure that I’m getting preventative care and showing my kids (and sometimes my husband) the importance of check ups and it’s high time for me to take those actions.

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I used to be a sun worshiper when I was younger, I loved the beach and even worse- I used to love the tanning salon. I would slather on some delightful smelling tanning bed lotion and climb in for a 30 minute warm relaxation time… daily 😁. And I know that this was the worst thing I could have done and I was, for a time, addicted to the tanning salon. I also wasn’t great at remembering sun screen. I once tanned at the beach, became insanely burned and then went out the next day to the beach again, which resulted in a purple burn and not being able to lift my arms because it hurt too much for a couple days. I never liked sun screen much because it felt greasy and clogged my pores, which is a classic rookie mistake when it comes to sun exposure.

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After being tan for the majority of my junior high, high school, and college life, I have finally given in to the reality that I am a fair skinned lady thanks to my Northern European ancestors. I, along with most of my girl friends are now taking up residence under large umbrellas with wide brimmed sun hats, and cover ups when we hang out at the pool. And we most certainly seek out the highest SPF we can find. And I’ve worked hard to make sure that my daughter knows that whenever you go out in the sun you must put on sunscreen and I carry it around in my bag for her.

So now it’s time to get things checked out and since I’ve been irresponsible in the past, it’s time to find out if and how I will pay for those mistakes. I got my check up and had to have two moles removed. Now the last time I went to get checked the Doctor came at me with a needle and a scalpel and I nearly passed out right there on the examination table and couldn’t let them do it. But I needed to (wo)man up and had to be brave, because being afraid of something doesn’t change the outcome. Waiting longer to find out if there is something wrong will only make my situation worse. So now I have a week or so to wait until my results come back. I’m thinking positive thoughts (which is another thing I’m working on while building a new and improved Amy).

The Journey Begins

28 Dec

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My lil snuggler is 3 months old now and my heart could not be full of more joy with my little family. But there is one thing that is weighing on me quite a bit and that is the extra 20 pounds I’m toting around with me. It is true that I just recently had a baby and that’s a great reason to have gained the weight and to still be carrying it around but it doesn’t make it any easier to look in the mirror or to fit in my jeans. I’m not planning on having any more kids in the future and I’m dreaming of the day when I’ll be back in my prepregnancy clothes.

I was pretty tired and frankly cold this afternoon and all I really wanted was to take a nap during the kids’ nap time but I was reminded that whether I went to the gym or took a nap- I would probably regret not doing the other, but if I went to the gym, I might wish I had taken the nap but would probably be happy I got a work out in. I took that gentle reminder to heart and laced up my new hot pink and black running shoes and hit the gym.

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The gym was delightfully empty so I had my pick of machines. It’s hard to admit just how out of shape I am, I was definitely moving at a much slower pace and had to shorten each of the times on all of the machines. Having a difficult pregnancy and skipping about 11 months worth of workouts will do that to you. I was definitely sweaty when I left and proud of it, it wasn’t the best workout or probably the most successful workout I’ve ever had but the time has come to reclaim my body and take action to improve my situation.

I’m setting new goals and am going to be implementing all the strategies that I have been successful with in the past. After recently turning 30, I know that it’s only going to get harder to stay in shape from here but I owe it to myself, my husband, and my kids to embody and promote a healthy and fit lifestyle.

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Beating my bad habits is going to be tough. As I type I’m reminding myself, ‘you’re not hungry, you’re just bored’ and resisting my very strong urge to go for the dark chip chocolate gelato that is calling my name from the freezer. I am an emotional eater, a boredom eater, an overeater, a salty food lover, a sweets lover, a carb lover, a veggie lover, a comfort food lover, you name it- I love it. So portion control and cutting out certain foods will help steer me in the right direction. I’m trying to avoid looking at this like a diet but as a lifestyle improvement. Because, let’s face it- diet is an ugly four letter word.