In pizza we crust.
Many of you may already know that my family has pizza night once a week, and we love to use diverse toppings so there is no food boredom in our kitchen :). This quick and simple recipe uses rotisserie chicken #healthyshortcut so there is no need to spend extra time cooking your own chicken, not unless you want to. Instead of using a typical pizza base of olive oil or tomato sauce we use an avocado oil ranch dressing since it pairs so well with buffalo sauce. This pizza is "healthed-up" with some fresh chopped kale that gets nice and crispy once baked.
Are you ready? Make this simple and healthy pizza this week for the whole family!
BUFFALO CHICKEN PIZZA
serves many happy people
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To make buffalo sauce melt butter on medium heat in a small pot. Once melted add hot sauce and garlic powder and stir together. Bring to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl mix your rotisserie chicken pieces with the buffalo sauce to coat all of the chicken. Yum!
3. Using a silicone brush or spoon spread the ranch dressing to cover the entire pizza crust.
4. Next, spread the chopped kale all over the ranch dressing. Then top pizza with mozzarella followed by the buffalo chicken pieces. You probably won't use all of the buffalo chicken so save the leftovers for a fun salad topping or to make a buffalo chicken wrap!
5. Bake pizza for about 10-12 minutes or until crust is slightly brown and crispy.
Enjoy this flavorful and healthy pizza pie!
Always craving good food,
How do I put this?
You will never sleep again!
When I was pregnant, my life hadn't changed too much and my daily routine pretty much stayed the same. But now that Lucille is born- BOOM SHAKALACKA! My life has transformed and turned upside down in the best possible way. My days now literally revolve around Lucille. I am her food, her bed, and her comfort.
My new purpose in life at this moment is to provide Lucille with all of her basic needs, but also to REST in order to allow my body to heal from child birth.
I'm unsure why, but no one really talks about the postpartum recovery process. Maybe because it can be unpleasant and painful emotionally and physically, or maybe because mamas don't want to scare future mamas?
Whatever the reason, I think more of us out there should share our postpartum experience in order to unite and build a strong mama community. We (mamas) are not alone in this process, and can totally support each other during this crazy time in our life. Not to mention our partners can support us too!
Childbirth is tough, and recovery is no walk in the park either.
After having an episiotomy during my labor (read Lucille's birth story here) I've been resting and taking it easy for almost 3 weeks and counting. I had no idea recovery would be this long and uncomfortable. I can see how it can be quite easy to go a little nuts during this postpartum time.
My undercarriage is a ragtime doll, it's difficult to sit, stand and walk, I'm still getting the hang of this whole breastfeeding gig, and I'm adjusting to a new sleep or should I say lack of sleep schedule. This is me dishing out the realness of the situation, not complaining.
I am extremely grateful for everything I have and continue to grow from the ups and the downs in life.
Motherhood is an exciting battle and I think we (mamas) are fierce beings to behold!
Let's spread awareness of our unique journeys of strength and resilience so we can lift each other up when the going gets tough. We can all join together and inspire sanity in the time of huge life changes, whether you're a mama or not.
Below I have shared a typical day with Lucille (as a newborn) and the activities that had helped me from going completely off the deep end. In order to stay happy and healthy during this wonderful transition in my life I had to squeeze in small activities of self-care.
Three self-care activities that are non-negotiable:
1. Eating real, good food throughout the day.
2. Sleeping as much as I can.
3. Doing one thing that brings me joy (besides watching Lucille).
MY "TYPICAL" DAY WITH LUCILLE
Wake up anytime between 4 a.m. - 7 a.m.
As you can see, my daily routine with her is very flexible and depends on when Lucille is hungry and when she is sleeping. I feed her when she's hungry (every 2-4 hours) and she sleeps when she wants. I integrate tummy time and small walks around my house when she is awake to keep her from boredom. It is vital that I make time to fuel myself with healthy foods and to take at least one nap a day. If I don't squeeze in these self-care activities, my body starts to break down and I feel ill. I also make sure to either blog, watch a Netflix episode or listen to a podcast because it brings me joy. These small self-care activities are a MUST for my health and sanity!
I hope my journey will motivate other mamas (and hey - even the papas) to share their unique stories of the postpartum period as well. Together we are strong, powerful and thriving!
Want to hear more about self-care?
Check out our podcast (Simplified Khaos EPISODE 8) that dives deeper into all about me and my husband's self care activities, why they are important to us and some great resources to get you thriving instead of surviving.
How can you ever say anything negative about your body after you have felt the dancing of life from inside your womb?
Hey mamas or future mamas! Whether you have had a baby or are pregnant with your first baby I felt the need to share what essentials I absolutely could not have lived without during my pregnancy. I have listed my top 5 essentials that helped me to experience the happiest and healthiest pregnancy. My pregnancy essentials are in no particular order.
Take those walks mama! You don't have to do crazy workouts to stay active during your pregnancy. Embrace whatever movements feel comfortable to you and do them mindfully on a daily basis, whether that's dancing, walking, etc. Try to move throughout the day, especially if you have a job that requires you to sit on your butt. Drink lots of water to keep you and baby hydrated, which will get you on your feet walking to the bathroom numerous times during the day. Take the stairs when you can and don't be afraid to get a birthing ball to bounce on at home. Grab some free weights, sit on your ball and watch your favorite show while you get a little arm workout. Trust me, you will need all of your strength during labor and afterwards when your new free weight will be the actual baby. :)
The best investment during my pregnancy was hiring a doula. Since this was my first pregnancy I wanted to have all of the support and knowledge about what to expect during pregnancy and after pregnancy. Especially because I wanted to have an unmedicated birth which I knew would be more painful and I would require all of the emotional and physical support I could get. To find out more about how my doula supported me during the birth of Lucille read my birth story. Studies have shown that a doula is associated with shorter labors, less use of pain medications, lower episiotomy rates, and as much as a 50% reduction in the C-section rate. Destination Baby is the company I hired to provide me with doula services and I can't say enough positive words about them. I would hire a doula again for future pregnancies in a heart beat too. Doulas provide services for pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum and so much more.
3. Eat like you have gestational diabetes
I was one of those lucky mamas that was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. At first I was frustrated and confused because I took good care of my body in regards to nutrition and movement. But little did I know that my case of gestational diabetes was genetic. My body was reacting differently to sugar while pregnant because of family genes, not because of any other factors. My diabetes were diet controlled and no medication was needed. Gestational diabetes meant that everything I ate during my pregnancy had to be balanced with good sources of protein, fats, and carbs in order for my sugar levels to stay at a healthy number. I had to check my blood sugar four times a day to make sure my body was reacting appropriately to the food I was eating. I thought this would be a nuisance, but it really was a blessing in disguise. This forced me to be more mindful of my splurges on not-so-nutritious foods and make sure to balance every meal with good sources of real food. I never felt restricted and was still able to eat what I craved by cooking more at home or by "healthing" up the meals eaten out by including any missing food groups, such as veggies, fats, and/or protein. Most of my meals eaten during my pregnancy are on my blog if you need some healthy, simple recipes. I gained a total of 15 pounds during my pregnancy and I felt my body quickly retreat to my normal self after giving birth (see photos below). Now please don't compare your progress to mine because every body is unique and beautiful in their own way. These are just the facts about my pregnancy and what I had experienced eating this way. Nutrition is so important, especially when you're growing a tiny human. Overall, just be mindful of what you eat and balance your meals with all the food groups. REAL FOOD all the way!
Knowledge is power! Find trustworthy sources to teach you everything you want to learn about pregnancy, child birth and postpartum. Postpartum is equally as important to learn about as your pregnancy journey. Self-care is vital for you while being pregnant and after pregnancy as well. That baby depends on you, so remember to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally. Sources that I used to educate myself on all things pregnancy are as follows. The Mama Natural by Genevieve Howland was my go-to text to learn week by week what changes my baby and body were going through. The author also includes recipes, tips and other mama experiences for staying healthy and happy as well. This book was basically my pregnancy bible. Podcasts were another great source of education. I was able to learn about the physiology of my body during child birth on The Birthful Podcast with Whapio Diana Bartlett: Rethinking the Pushing Stage, Episode #114. Another podcast that gave me insight into pregnancy, mom life, and postpartum experiences is Mom's Who Rule the World. When it comes to nutrition education and more pregnancy insight The Well-Fed Women is another informative podcast to really empower you through your pregnancy and birthing journey. Knowing more about my body and the child birth process gave me strength and confidence when it was game time in the hospital.
5. A support group for mamas
My support group was a pregnant workout class. This class motivated me to workout once a week, which I especially needed in the first trimester. This class is made specifically for pregnant mamas so the workouts are designed to meet my growing body's needs in a safe and fun way. Fit4Baby is the name of the class which I highly recommend if you can find one near you. It allowed me to meet other mamas in the area and share stories of what we had been experiencing during our pregnancy journey.
A woman's body undergoes more changes in nine months than a man's body does in his entire lifetime. With all of these transformations it was important for me to feel empowered and strong. My top 5 pregnancy essentials gave me the knowledge and support to trust my body, which was what helped me to have a wonderful pregnancy and childbirth experience.
I would love if other mamas could share their top pregnancy essentials below! Let's empower other future mamas out there to have a positive pregnancy and childbirth experience.
Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers- strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.
-Barbara Katz Rothman
I knew as soon as I was pregnant with Lucille that I wanted to document and share my birth story, no matter how it would turn out to be. I wanted to remember the day that my body brought another living being into this world. As a woman, I feel incredibly powerful and grateful to be able to create, grow and birth a tiny living human. As someone who went through infertility treatments for about a year and a half, there is not one part of pregnancy or of the birthing process that I regret. All of the tears, stress, aches and pains were welcomed because I knew the outcome would be something unbelievably beautiful.
As soon as I returned home from the hospital after giving birth I immediately started recording down everything that I had remembered from Lucille's birthday. My husband, sister, and doula were able to fill in the gaps and approximate times that events took place as well. I was able to gather very specific details (some very comical, some not so comical) to really tell Lucille's entry into this world as it should be told, uncensored. My mission of sharing my story is not to scare or frighten anyone about the unmedicated birthing process, but rather to bring awareness that women are POWERFUL! Our bodies are capable and strong and we should always trust our instincts.
My birth story is organized by The Holistic Stages of Birth. I believe these stages describe precisely the entire labor process from beginning to end better than any birthing book or article I have read. Some details are listed briefly and some will go into more detail. I found it easier to bullet most of the beginning labor events and included more details as it got closer to the finale, aka birthing. I will use the words "poop", "pee" and "bowel movement" just so you are warned. I'm not embarrassed to share about what my body naturally decided to go through. Our bodies are amazing and sh*t happens (pun intended). There will be no sugarcoating of this story, just real, raw events.
Before reading my birth story there are a few key details to know.
1. This is my first pregnancy.
2. I hired a doula. Best investment ever!
3. I created a birth plan that involved no medication, and my husband, sister, mother and doula were the only ones allowed in my birthing room.
4. I wanted to quit and take drugs a couple times during labor.
5. In the end, I stuck to my birth plan and had a natural, unmedicated birth.
Lucille's Birth Story
June 7, 2018
Entering the Veil- Active Labor
On the Mountain- Active Labor
The Summoning- Transition
Quietude- Resting phase
The Return- Immediate Postpartum
I am a true believer that giving birth should be your greatest accomplishment, not your greatest fear.
I would love if you could share your birth stories below. Women should empower each other instead of competing with one another. Your body is strong and capable of miraculous things, trust it always.
Eat pasta. Run fasta.
Savory, flavorful, healthy and simple. I don't know about you, but those are four attributes that I look for in a good meal. No need to feel guilty eating this balanced meal of whole grain noodles, seasoned protein and some added vedge too! The kale is chopped so tiny that it wilts uniformly into this creamy sauce. No one will believe this is actually a healthy meal. Let's fool them all into thinking this is an indulgent dish that you spent hours cooking, because it sure does taste like one :). Ready to impress your friends and family? Then let's get cooking!
CREAMY TOMATO + KALE SAUSAGE PASTA
1. Cook pasta according to directions and set aside.
2. In a large skillet on medium heat cook Italian sausage breaking it into smaller chunks as it cooks. Add in minced garlic as sausage is cooking.
3. Once sausage is cooked or no longer pink, add in tomato sauce, half-n-half, Parmesan cheese and seasonings. Stir well and bring sauce to a boil. Once boiling, let sauce simmer on low heat.
4. Add chopped kale in the sauce and stir. Allow the kale to wilt as the sauce thickens. Let sauce simmer for about 5-7 minutes.
5. Last, place your cooked pasta into the sauce and stir to coat every noodle. Serve this delicious pasta with more fresh Parmesan cheese and enjoy this savory healthy meal!
Always craving good food,
The magic of rhythms is in the process, not the particulars.
-Kim John Payne, M.ED
Do you find it stressful and chaotic when it comes to cooking dinner?
Streamline your cooking routine by making it less complicated to get dinner on the table for you and your family. DESIGNATED MEAL NIGHTS have been a true time saver for me and my family.
I'm grateful to come home to a non-stressful situation when it comes to dinner because I already know ahead of time what's on the menu.
DESIGNATED MEAL NIGHTS basically means each night of the week is assigned a specific type of meal. For example, Monday nights are when we eat pasta. I don't serve the same pasta meal each week. Each week we change components of the pasta dish. One week we might have goat cheese and beet ravioli with a grass-fed beef tomato sauce and a salad, and the next week we might have lentil penne with a ground turkey tomato sauce with chopped kale.
This makes each week exciting and fresh so no one dies of food boredom.
I think it's very important to include your family when deciding on meals for the week. This way everyone's voice is heard and both adults and kids can feel important by contributing to the family's routines. This also helps young children to build and sustain healthy eating habits in the future.
My family has decided on the following designated meal nights (see below). This has been our weekly meal plan way for about 6 months now, and we are always open for change when when we want to spice up the week with something new.
Every week is not perfect, and we aren't striving to be. We enjoy being spontaneous every now and then and making decisions that best fit our needs for that specific week or day.
DESIGNATED MEAL NIGHT PLAN
Thursday: Brinner (Breakfast for dinner)
Friday: TBD (Date night; or order out; or last minute decision)
Saturday: TBD (Date night; or order carry out; or last minute decision)
Sunday: We decide as a family in the morning what to cook before going to the grocery store to buy food for the week.
If you are interested in finding some simple ideas for cooking pasta, tacos, pizza and more then feel free to check out my Balanced Meals for quick recipes!
When mixing up your meal nights try to make small changes so it doesn't get overwhelming when it comes time to cook. Remember, we want to keep things simple! Swap or change the protein, vegetable, or carbohydrate choice every week or every other week in that meal.
Here's an example of swapping options to change Taco Night each week:
Protein: ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, ground chorizo, fish, chicken, black beans
Veggies: chopped spinach, arugula, kale, radishes, chopped broccoli, romaine lettuce wraps
Carbs: rice, whole grain tortillas, sweet potato
Toppings: cheese, guacamole, salsa, Greek yogurt or sour cream
Remember, there is no need to overwhelm yourself every week with the many choices of dinner meals you could cook. Keep your eating habits clean and simple, but add your personality and taste to it as well. Design a simple meal plan that excites you, your family, and keeps your stress levels on the down low.
Always craving good food,
There must be something to acupuncture- you never see any sick porcupines.
- Bob Goddard
I'm sure like most, the first image that pops into your head when you hear the word "acupuncture" is Hellraiser, haha. While there definitely are needles involved, there is much ignorance in our society today about acupuncture and why it is used. I should know, I was one of those people who knew nothing about this practice when I first started a couple years ago.
The purpose of this blog post is to shed some light on why I started acupuncture and how it has redirected my life to one full of more purpose and meaning. Acupuncture is not for everyone, and I absolutely believe you need to have an open-mind, free of judgement to engage in this type of healing practice. If you care to learn more about acupuncture, I highly encourage you to find a practitioner near you to learn more specific details on how it could fit into your lifestyle. This post will be a brief overview of what acupuncture is and how it has come to fit into my current lifestyle.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a Chinese holistic method of treatment based on influencing the body by inserting needles in specific points on the human body. These specific points, or "acupoints," are believed to help balance the energy flow in our bodies, known as "chi." When our chi is balanced, we are healthy; when our chi is unbalanced, we experience illness, pain, and fatigue.
My definition of acupuncture is the practice of self-love, stress relieving, mind and body therapy, and mediation all wrapped together with a beautiful bow. When your mind has time and space to heal, your body follows suit since it is all wonderfully connected.
Why did I start acupuncture?
I first started acupuncture almost two years ago because of infertility reasons. I knew nothing about this healing practice but knew I wanted to try all holistic avenues to help my body get pregnant before trying medical treatments. All of my treatment sessions are 60 minutes long. Each session begins with some light conversation with my acupuncturist for about 10-15 minutes about what's going on in my life, what I'm feeling physically and mentally, and anything else I choose to discuss with her. I have built such an open and trusting relationship with her, I feel like I'm talking with a friend and I love it :).
What have I gained from acupuncture?
A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON MY LIFESTYLE! You don't realize the life you are living until you sit down and give yourself the time to talk, reflect, and question everything you are doing. If you haven't asked yourself "why" questions about why you do the things in your life, then I highly recommend you start this habit. It may seem unnecessary to some, but I guarantee you will realize that some things you are doing everyday really have no value or purpose. At least that's what I discovered. Through acupuncture I realized what I valued in life the most: my health, making a family, happiness, freedom of time, and helping others. I also realized what was getting in the way of those values: my "busy" go-go-go lifestyle that I thought was filled with everything I should be doing.
My lifestyle when I started acupuncture was filled to the brim with work, attending all parties and events that I was invited to, working out three times a week consistently on a HIIT routine, eating healthy, shopping when I had nothing else better to do, date nights once a week, cleaning my house and blogging on the weekends, and having occasional vacations and getaways. Sounds like a great life, right? I thought so. But I soon realized that I had just been going with the flow or living blindly and not being as intentional as I should. I was busy doing so many tasks and buying stuff that my life lacked a clear direction and purpose. I needed to change my direction and head toward my values if I wanted to "heal" myself. Acupuncture helped me redirect my choices and decisions intentionally so they were focused on my health, freedom of time to just be, growing a family, being happy, and helping others in the process. Acupuncture calmed and relaxed my mind to focus on what I'm feeling emotionally and physically, how my mind and body react as one. May sound cheesy and cliche, but it's the truth.
Acupuncture helped me realize that my body was overworked, over-stressed and unbalanced. Did you know that a high intensity workout is actually stress on the body? I didn't know that. Now there is good stress and bad stress, but apparently all my stress levels were on overload. Let's clear this up really quick, I'm not saying that working out is bad! Movement is so vital for our health, but the type and intensity of movement I was doing was not conducive to my body at the time. My hormones were off the chain because I had put so much pressure on getting everything done in my life that I thought I had to, in addition to engaging in a rigorous workout that I rarely skipped for the past three years. My body was screaming for a reset, mentally and physically. Acupuncture helped me learn to listen to my whole body so I could finally hit that reset button; it remains to help me to be consistently mindful of what I want in my life and what junk needs to stay out of it.
Acupuncture has redirected my life to stay focused on what I value, to listen to my whole body, and to be brave enough to make changes to keep this positive momentum going, no matter what society or others may do or say.
I hope this has given you a clearer insight into what amazing changes acupuncture has led me to. I still continue to get biweekly acupuncture sessions because it is what I still need in my life, to be consistently reminded to stop just doing things mindlessly, but instead to listen and question what I bring into my life and make intentional decisions. One day I may not need these frequent acupuncture sessions because we are constantly evolving and changing. But until then I will invest in the things that I value the most, my health, my family, my happiness, my freedom of time, and helping others.
Always craving health + happiness,
Simplicity is the essence of happiness.
As I grew older to become a mature and responsible adult (haha) and now almost a mom (7 weeks and counting, yippee), I began to realize how precious my time truly is. I want to be able to do my full-time job well (teacher), but also have time to do the things that bring me joy with the people I care about on a daily basis and not just on weekends. Before I started my simplifying journey it felt like my days were consumed with cleaning the house or cooking, instead of actually enjoying the day. Owning and maintaining a house is hard work that comes with a list of responsibilities and soon I will be adding mama responsibilities to a future baby girl on top of that. Seriously, something has to change. I don't want my house and responsibilities to control my life, I want to control my life. That's when I decided that no house or any other "thing" would take over my life and all of my free time.
The real question I had was, "How can I live in a clean, cozy and stress-free home, while still staying healthy and happy, and working a full-time job?
Finding an answer seemed so difficult and challenging to me in the beginning, but the solution was actually pretty simple, SIMPLIFY!
Other synonyms for "simplify" are: to clarify, cut down, streamline, reduce, facilitate, and unscramble. It was time to get intentional with how I organized and structured my life so I could take back control.
The more I simplify the world around me, the less time I spend on cleaning, cooking, maintaining, organizing, or just spending time doing things that are meaningless to me. In order to simplify my life, I decided to start with my home first. The first area of my house that needed desperately to be reduced was the kitchen. I wrote a short blog post on 3 Ways to Simplify Your Kitchen about a year ago, but I really wanted to dive deeper into how doing that leads to making the cooking experience easier too. The kitchen is my family's favorite and most used part of our house. Cooking and eating good food is what brings my family and friends together. Family and friends are two things that I value dearly so it only made sense to start my simplifying journey in that wonderful space. Another important thing I value (just as much as the other two things) is my health. The kitchen is where our body's main fuel (food) is made. We need REAL, good food to lead healthy, happy and energetic lives. If you also value family, friends and health then I recommend you begin your simplifying journey in the kitchen as well.
I could literally talk for hours about how I simplified other aspects of my house and life, but since the title of this blog post is SIMPLIFIED COOKING I will stick to sharing only helpful tips on how you can make cooking good food at home a little easier. Let's cut down, streamline, and reduce our time in the kitchen so you can have more time for meaningful activities!
TIPS for SIMPLIFYING COOKING AT HOME
1. Intentional Kitchen Reduction: Simple kitchen means simple cooking.
I know this may sound intimidating, but going through all of your cabinets, drawers, pantry and refrigerator will help you see everything you have been keeping and storing (for years and years maybe).
Make 3 piles:
1. Items you use everyday ---be realistic and think about your daily routine
2. Items you use for special occasions ---dishes, not decorations
3. Items you rarely touch ---"Wow I haven't seen those in years!"
Doing this will help you choose tools that are truly intentional for your everyday life. Donate what you don't use so someone else can find value in those tools or dishes. Find a safe place to store those special occasion tools, but only if you truly use them consistently every year and not just once a decade. Your kitchen is not a storage unit, so get it out of there. Lastly, find a place that is convenient for you to store those items you truly use everyday. For example, my family uses rolled oats, nuts, chia seeds, protein powder, and coffee every morning so I stored them all in clear containers on an open cabinet. I took off some cabinet doors for aesthetics and to make my life easier (see photo). Another example relating to dishes is that we have only kept the plates and bowls we consistently use over and over again during the week. We have stored our 6 large plates, 5 small plates and 10 bowls on two shelves in one open cabinet for easy access as well. No time will be wasted on preparing breakfast or getting dishes to serve our food. Keep it simple folks :)
Surprisingly when we did this kitchen reduction a couple years ago we discovered that we had two extra drawers after it was all said and done! Woo hoo! Those drawers are still bare or have maybe a few items in them to this day. And just like your pantry and cabinets should reflect your day to day life, your refrigerator should reflect your daily eats too. If you're holding on to food or condiments that you might use, then find a better home for it. There's nothing worse than finding moldy or expired food in your fridge, yuck! Plus, it takes up space that you could be using for food you actually do eat on a daily basis. You will be surprised how quick and simple it is to whip up a meal for dinner when everything you need is easily accessible, from your kitchen tools to your food.
Less options = less stress when cooking
Check out my tips to help you get started with decluttering your pantry and refrigerator!
2. Keep your counters clear: If you love your workspace, you'll love your work a little more.
My kitchen is not huge (as you can see in the photo), and has very few areas for working, a.k.a. counter space. If I wanted to feel stress-free in my kitchen I needed to have more space to prepare healthy and simple meals. This means I had to clear my counters of any useless tools or decorative pieces that had no purpose to me when cooking. I removed small pieces of cute artwork, utensils I never used, and stored my electronic tools in a convenient cabinet space for my family to access. Removing the toaster and coffee grinder off my counters really made a huge difference! Plus it made cleaning the counters that much easier. I also invested in getting a custom wood island built (Etsy is wonderful) just so I could have more counter space to prepare and serve food. This island was intentionally designed to serve as a prepping space, as well as for entertaining and storage purposes. I intentionally invested money to simplify my life in the kitchen, and it has been worth every penny. Once you start reducing the stuff in your cabinets, pantry and fridge, clearing the counters seems like a breeze. You got this!
3. Plan your meals in advance: Cooking and grocery shopping go so much quicker and smoother when you have a plan.
Decide as a family what you want to eat for the week. It can be as specific as choosing recipes or as broad as what proteins, veggies, and other major food groups you want to chow down on for that week. Check out Meal Prep vs. Food Prep to see which strategy works best for you and your family. We are primarily a meal prep kinda family, but once in a while we dive into the food prep method for a little change. Having a plan helps you prepare your shopping list for the week and to stick to it! This saves you time and money in the store and in your kitchen. No more second guessing or stressing about what you're going to eat or cook when you get home. Check out my Weekly Meal Plans if you need some ideas on where to start. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.
4. Intentionally choose meals that are both healthy and simple: Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
If you have a full-time job or just have a jam-packed day, then you probably don't want to spend hours preparing dinner. No problem! The solution is to intentionally choose meals or recipes that need less ingredients and take less time. There are tons and tons of resources out there to help you find 30 minute meals. Most of my recipes take less than 30 minutes because I am all about keeping it clean and simple. Feel free to check out my recipes if you need some inspiration. Healthy doesn't need to be gourmet or complicated, it just needs to be as close to real and whole foods as possible. My cooking motto is to always keep healthy food in my house and to cook simple meals my family enjoys, such as burgers and pizza. Meals you cook at home are usually much healthier (and taste better in my opinion) than compared to ordering them out. We eat pizza once a week in our house because we make it healthy and it only takes 15 minutes. Score! Try Designated Meal Nights to make cooking a breeze every week!
To sum it all up, the more you intentionally reduce, streamline and simplify your kitchen and meal selection, the easier cooking will be! I hope this was useful in making your cooking life a little healthier and happier.
Always craving good food,
Chicken thighs are so freakin' tender, why aren't more people cooking them?!
Seriously though, if you are strictly a chicken breast kinda girl (like I used to be), then you need to hop aboard the chicken thigh train as soon as possible. Not only are chicken thighs more affordable than chicken breasts, but they don't get a hint of dryness when you cook them. Chicken thighs stay juicy and tender, even if you think you overcook them, which makes you look like a genius in the kitchen :). Another great thing about chicken thighs, besides their nutritional value (good protein folks), is that they don't need much seasoning to make them taste delicious. This simple recipe just adds some crispiness to the thighs by adding...MAYO! Yup, that's it! This recipe is so easy and delicious you will have wished you would have started eating crispy chicken thighs years ago.
Enjoy my loves!
CRISPY MAYO CHICKEN THIGHS
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum or parchment paper.
3. Place chicken thighs spread out on the baking sheet. Use a silicon brush or spoon to completely coat each chicken thigh with mayo. Season each thigh with salt and pepper.
4. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until internal temperature is 165 degrees.
Your'e going to love how tender and tasty this chicken is! Don't forget to serve these thighs with your favorite healthy side dishes.
Always craving good food,
Your diet is a bank account. Good food choices are good investments.
What's the different between meal prepping and food prepping?
There is a difference if you can believe it. Both take time and planning, but one offers more creativity and flexibility throughout the week than the other.
If the thought of preparing full meals ahead of time scares you, then food prepping could be the better route for you and your family. I usually go the meal prepping route because it works best for my family currently. I plan my meals for the week and prepare my lunches on Sunday, which means I tend to eat the same meal all week. Some of you may not want to eat the same meal all week, which is totally fine. This just means that food prepping is a better solution for you. I hope to clear up the confusion between meal prep and food prep so you can choose which strategy is the best fit for YOU. There is no wrong way to eat, but it absolutely benefits your health and saves you time having a plan so you stick to fueling your body with mostly good, whole foods to help you thrive!
1. Plan your breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner meals out ahead of time.
2. Go food shopping.
3. Prepare your lunches before the week begins. Portion your lunches in glass containers so you can grab-n-go!
4. Cook simple meals or use quick recipes for dinner each night using your already bought ingredients.
Overall difference: You portion your lunch meals out ahead of time and cook quick dinner meals during the week.
To learn more check out 9 SIMPLE STEPS FOR MEAL PREPPING FOR THE WORK WEEK
1. Plan what breakfast, snacks, proteins, veggies, carbs, and healthy fats you want to have on hand for the week.
2. Go food shopping.
3. Cook your protein and carbs (like potatoes or rice) ahead of time and place in large containers in your fridge. ex: Boil chicken, cook ground beef, boil eggs, etc.
4. Wash and cut veggies and fruit ahead of time and place in containers to store in your fridge as well. This way you can quickly grab what you want for snack, lunch and dinner.
5. Each night or the morning of, choose which protein, veggie, carbs and healthy fat you want to have that day. You can do this for your dinner meals as well. But, be sure each meal has a balance with some type of veggie and protein!
ex: Pair ground beef with some rice, spinach, salsa and cheese for a taco bowl
Overall difference: You cook and prep your protein, veggies, fruits and carbs out ahead of time so you can personalize each meal you eat. This way you can have a different combination of good food as many times as you want.
Don't like cooking? Check out 5 REASONS WHY WE SHOULD BE COOKING MORE!
Please note that both prepping strategies require time to plan and cook. Whatever strategy you choose to use, both are great healthy habits to add to your weekly routine. Start building and sustaining health and happiness for you and your family. Better health gives you more energy to live it up!
Always craving good food,
“A date night is cheaper than therapy, much cheaper than divorce, and a whole lot more fun.”
I was trying to come up with an inspiring and motivating introduction to this blog post but I think the above quote pretty much sums up my thoughts on the topic I am diving into today. Don't make excuses, make date nights a priority :)
3 REASONS TO SCHEDULE WEEKLY DATE NIGHTS
1. One-on-one time with your partner is essential.
You may think you have one-on-one time with your partner before or after work, but is that really quality time intentionally set aside to listen and communicate with your partner? Chances are it isn't. It's vital to help a healthy relationship thrive by showing how much you care and appreciate that person. What better way to show that person you care than to give them YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION. This means no distractions! No kids, technology, friends, pets, and the list goes on. If you can't set aside 2-3 hours a week for just your partner, then what does that say about your dedication and commitment to that person. Your presence and your time are the most precious gift you can give someone. Doesn't your partner deserve that gift? Make it work, however you can. But make a way to provide your partner with that one-on-one time. They deserve it!
2. You should always be "dating."
Wikipedia's definition of the word "dating" describes it as a stage of romantic relationships whereby two people meet socially with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a prospective partner in an intimate relationship or marriage. It is a form of courtship, consisting of social activities done by the couple, either alone or with others. When I think back to my "dating" days I would always try to make the best impression. I would wear my most flattering outfits, fix my make-up and hair to look like a celebrity (we are all wonderfully flawed though). I would even try to choose the best restaurant or a cool activity to try. Dating brought out my best self, nervous with butterflies perhaps, but I would always try to create the most "perfect" time with that person. Why the heck should we ever stop doing this? Dating sounds freaking awesome! As years pass being together with the same person we tend to get a little too comfortable and stop trying to impress the one we love. We have to keep that mindset that we are always "dating" our significant other so we preserve and maintain our best self. I'm not saying we have to go above and beyond every minute of everyday. But, we can choose one night or day out of the week to really "date" our partner. Is it too much to ask of yourself or of your partner to go a little out of the way to present your best "dating" self to each other? Please, please, please be your amazing authentic self everyday, but give just a little extra for a couple of hours once a week to really preserve that "dating" mentality. It's a win-win situation.
3. Explore new places together.
Date nights allow you to get out of the house for a couple of hours to engage in a new experience together. Yipee! You have the chance to try a new restaurant, see a new movie, or even try a new activity. It provides both you and your partner the opportunity to have fun and let loose together. There are no kids to watch, jobs to maintain, or to-do lists to follow. You can both enjoy your time together doing something that really excites you both. A fun fact, new experiences activate the brain’s reward system, flooding it with dopamine and norepinephrine, or what is considered as the “feel good” brain chemistry. I believe a combination of this "feel good" feeling and having fun together tends to spark romance too, wink wink.
As a closing reminder: Date nights are not about WHAT you do, it’s the EFFORT you bring to it. Be creative and make your partner a priority :)
Always craving a happy + healthy life,
Life is a gift. Wake up every morning and realize that.
What's your morning routine?
Does it begin with activities involving self-love and self-care?
Does it begin starting chores and/or other tasks?
Or does it begin rushing out of bed just to get to work on time?
I have found that having a morning routine that prepares me to be the best version of myself is positively life transforming! By setting up my mind, body, and soul to be in a happy and open mindset, I am setting myself up for a very successful day.
Setting my mind, body and soul up for a successful day means doing all the self-love or self-care activities that fit MY needs. My routine is not a one-size-fits-all prescription. Everyone has different needs and values in their life so it may look differently from one person to the next. What I can share with you is what my morning routine looks like during the week and weekend so you can take or make meaning of what activities might be a good fit for your life. My morning routine has 100% positively transformed how I act and feel each and every day. I am healthier, happier and more grateful because of these small daily activities I do each and every morning.
The secret to health and happiness is found in your daily routine.
Work Week Morning Routine
During the week I am a full-time public school teacher which means I wake up at 5 a.m. in order to be at my school at 6:30 a.m. Mind you that my school day doesn't begin until 7:30 a.m. I wake up extra early so I have plenty of time to get dressed, brush my teeth, put on my make-up (because I can't leave the house without it), prepare my lunch, make my breakfast and possibly greet my doggies in the morning. Gifting myself that extra time in the morning allows me to get ready for the day at my own leisurely pace so I'm not rushed, and so I have the time to make myself feel like a sexy and confident woman, a.k.a self-love.
I feel sexy and confident when I am able to make myself look presentable (hair done, make-up on, and choosing an outfit matching my funky style). I also feel sexy and confident when I put delicious and healthy foods in my body, a.k.a. self care.
My lunch and breakfast are always prepared to make my body feel good and energized throughout the day. Spending an extra ten minutes putting my lunch together and preparing my breakfast smoothie is worth every minute. I honestly can't wait to dive into that delicious smoothie bowl when I arrive at work, yum!
I also can't stress enough the power of listening to a positive podcast on my morning drive to work. This has been a HUGE mindset booster to start my morning. When I prepare my mind to be open and grateful, I know I will absolutely have a great day because I am intentionally deciding to make it great, no matter what. Doing this enables me to interact with my colleagues and students with an open-mindset and lots of patience (which is so needed when working with kids...and adults, ha). I have also found a tremendous benefit in "putting a cherry on top" of my positive and open-mindset by searching for a quick and simple motivating quote to start my day as well. Following other open-minded people on Instagram has helped me to easily find inspiring words or quotes to start my day as the best and most authentic version of myself.
Weekend Morning Routine
The weekends allow my morning routine to be slightly more relaxed since I do not need to commute to work. Yippee! But, I am still an early riser because my body's time clock is programmed to wake early due to my weekly schedule. I absolutely love getting up before anyone else in my house because I have a WHOLE HOUR to myself! I can read, write, walk or just watch the sunrise while enjoying my morning coffee. I find that during that hour I am most creative too. When I am alone with my thoughts to wander with no distractions I have the time to just think of whatever floats in my mind.
Anyways, those small morning activities for me are the most precious moments of time that really give me that extra self-love that I need to start my day in the best positive mindset. Those small moments set the tone for the day and prepare my mind to be ready and open for whatever life has to throw at me. Bring it on!
As you can see, I believe there is a tremendous amount of power in your morning routine. YOU absolutely have to be the one to choose what self-care activities fit your needs.
Some questions to help guide you on choosing those activities are:
What's your purpose in life?
How can you prepare your whole self in fulfilling that purpose in the best way possible?
Giving a little love to yourself every morning goes a LONG way in making your life the best one it can be. Wake up and be intentional of how you exert and spend your time and energy, because it is very precious indeed.
Always craving health + happiness,
Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.
If you have been craving something deliciously sweet to start your morning, then this is a special treat just for you. Impress your family and friends with this simple, yet gourmet recipe. The crunchy, sweet granola adds just the right crunch to balance out the chewiness of the sourdough bread. Feel free to add all your favorite tasty toppings like fresh fruit, maple syrup or even some homemade whipped cream, yum!
CRUNCHY SOURDOUGH FRENCH TOAST
1. Place 1 tbsp of butter in a large skillet over almost medium heat. Depending on your stove you want to toast the bread slowly, but not burn the granola to a crisp, so please adjust accordingly!
2. Place your whisked eggs in a bowl or shallow container large enough to fit a slice of bread.
3. Place your granola in a zip lock bag and crush into a thin crumble using your hands or a rolling pin. Then place your crushed granola into a bowl or shallow container large enough to fit a slice of bread.
4. Dip your sourdough bread into the whisked eggs making sure to cover the entire slice of bread. Next, dip your bread into the crushed granola mixture, making sure to cover as much of the bread as you can.
5. Place the coated bread onto your heated skillet and cook until bread and granola are lightly toasted. Then flip the bread and do the same on the other side. Remember to cook slowly so you don't burn your delicious crunchy granola!
6. Serve your tasty french toast with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a heavy drizzle of maple syrup and feel free to add your favorite fruit toppings.
Enjoy this amazing gourmet breakfast!
Always craving good food,
You deserve to be happy, and you absolutely deserve to eat exciting food.
Are you ready for some chicken salad with a twist?
Let's spice up your life with some simple and healthy TACO CHICKEN SALAD! Eat this flavorful dish as dinner or use for meal prepping your lunches for the week. It's extremely versatile with what you can add in it. Feel free to use red onions, or other crunchy veggies such as celery, chopped peppers or jalapenos if you like things spicy. Let's start this cooking party, dogs included too!
TACO CHICKEN SALAD
*Taco Seasoning Blend
Mix all spices together.
1. Place your chopped rotisserie chicken or cooked shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl.
2. Stir in mayo and red onions. Then slowly add your Taco Seasoning Blend so the chicken is coated evenly. Mix well.
3. Add in fresh parsley before serving. Serve on top of mixed greens, on some toasted sourdough, or with whatever makes your soul happy :)
Always craving good food,
Keep life simple, by starting with your breakfast.
Oh hey there all-in-one delicious breakfast meal! Isn't it nice to only use one pan when cooking? This simple and healthy breakfast is all cooked in one skillet for your convenience. Feel free to add more eggs and kale if you want to serve more than 5-6 people. This dish would make a great whole family breakfast meal, a meal prep breakfast bowl for the work week, or even to serve at a potluck to bring to a fun brunch date! The great thing about using Italian Sausage is that you don't have to add many spices to give it flavor, because the sausage already does the work for you. Cook smarter, not harder.
Let's get ready to dive into a hearty, flavorful and nutritious breakfast!
ITALIAN SAUSAGE + KALE BREAKFAST SKILLET
1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat with 1 tbsp. of butter.
2. Once skillet is hot, use your fingers to add Italian sausage in chunks into the skillet. If sausage is in casing use scissors to cut meat out of casings.
3. Cook sausage, breaking it into smaller chunks with a spatula until meat is slightly browned and thoroughly cooked.
4. Once sausage is cooked, add in chopped kale and stir altogether. Stir and let wilt for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in all seasonings.
5. Add another tbsp. of butter to keep everything from sticking in the pan. Next, crack 4 eggs into the skillet and mix altogether with a spatula until eggs are spread throughout the mixture. Let these cook for about 5 minutes or until eggs are no longer runny.
6. Serve this all-in-one breakfast skillet by itself or with your favorite breakfast side dish, like my healthy MAPLE GLAZED DONUTS :).
Always craving good food,
Food freedom is all about eating what you want, when you want it.
My motto is, if you crave it, you should cook it! Unfortunately there are many meals served in restaurants that have a bad reputation because they aren't served with the healthiest ingredients. But, the good news is we can take these not-so-healthy meals and transform them in a simple and nutritious way at home. Feel no "food guilt" when you eat any of these 3 delicious meals at home.
The Deconstructed BLT
Good news, you don't have to wait until summer to enjoy a delicious BLT. Make it anytime of year or day to eat this tasty nutritious meal. Serve yours deconstructed if you like things messy, or put it altogether and enjoy as a sandwich. Either way, you and your family are going to enjoy this fun and healthy dinner during the week.
Best Ingredients to Use:
1. Combine and cook eggs, greens, onions and season with spices in a skillet in either coconut oil, butter, ghee or avocado oil.
2. Serve on the side or on top of toast with bacon.
3. Use jam or mayo on as your toast condiment. So delish!
Nachos with the Works
Nachos can be horrible for your body, or they can be healthy for your body. Add the health without loosing flavor and cook nachos at home in no time! Choose as close to whole ingredients as possible and you will have a fun meal ready to fuel your beautiful body.
Best Ingredients to Use:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place all nacho ingredients on a large baking tray to bake for 8-10 minutes.
2. Once baked top your nachos with "sour cream,", salsa, and guacamole.
3. Smile and be happy :)
Ordering pizza from large chain pizza places contain tons of excess sodium and ingredients that may not be the best for your body. Good thing making pizza is super easy and fun for both adults and kids.
Best Ingredients to Use:
Don't feel guilty when you eat any of these tasty meals. Instead, feel the freedom to eat really, good, food whenever you want to :)
Always craving good food,
Fast food to me is boiling a couple of eggs, throwing it on top of some good vedge I have lying in my fridge, and drizzling the good stuff all over it.
Salads are such a simple and quick way to get a balanced and nutrient dense meal in your body. Just make sure to balance your greens with some good fat and protein, and you have yourself a very fueling meal. This salad was inspired by my fridge. Yup, that's right. I had all of these ingredients lying in my fridge, so they made the cut (pun intended) into this simple CAESAR CHOP BREAKFAST SALAD recipe. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand to make your own salad at home :)
No food shall be wasted!
This salad is filled with a variety of colorful chopped veggies, such as mixed greens, baby kale, cucumbers and tomatoes. I also decided to add some delicious good fats like avocado and slivered almonds for a nice little crunch. Adding some healthy protein, two boiled eggs, is what really helps seal the deal for your stomach (so you're definitely not hungry after eating this meal). The final touch to make this salad complete is the Caesar dressing. I'm obsessed with Tessemae's dressings because they are made by a small, local company that is committed to using only the best ingredients. If you haven't tried their products yet, I highly recommend that you give it a go. You will not only fall in love with the taste, but the ingredients used as well. Good food = good mood.
I hope you enjoy my version of "fast food!"
CAESAR CHOP BREAKFAST SALAD
1. Place all chopped ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Drizzle entire salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing and some fresh ground pepper.
Enjoy this tasty filling salad anytime of the day!
Always craving good food,
Simplifying your life, amplifies your future.
The action to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary. Why waste your precious energy, time and thoughts on things that don't matter, but instead to focus on what is most valuable and meaningful to you.
There are small actions we can take to intentionally simplify are life so that we may live much healthier and happier lives.
I have carefully compiled 5 SIMPLE ACTIONS FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH that you can begin to implement in your life today. My one word of advice is to try not to implement all of these actions at once, but rather start with one action, then slowly add the rest into your lifestyle. We tend to make the most meaning out of new learning when we have sufficient time to practice and personalize it to make it our own. I want these actions to become a meaningful part of your life, so that living a healthy life isn't a fad but a long-lasting lifestyle.
5 SIMPLE ACTIONS FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH
1. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan: When you know what you will eat for the week, you will save money, time and most of all your sanity in the grocery store and in the kitchen. Other benefits include less food wasted, less clutter in your fridge and pantry, and less decisions to make when cooking at home. Visit here to see how we plan our weekly meals or here for simple meal plans to get you started.
2. Choose foods that are nutrient dense: Foods that are local, fresh and less processed have the most nutrients to supply your whole body. Spend more money on pasture raised eggs, grass-fed beef, hormone free poultry and organic produce, so you can spend less money and time being sick. Better food, better energy! Check out my Clean + Simple Grocery List if you need a little help getting started on what to buy.
3. Move throughout the day: Don't have time or the desire to do a crazy hour workout? Great! Let's practice good functional movements throughout the day to help your brain, muscles, and bones provide long-lasting strength for years to come. Some good functional movements are squats (basically anytime you have to bend down, like unloading the dishwasher), walking (park your car farther away and take the stairs), pulling or carrying items with your back straight and shoulders back (like groceries), pushing (on the floor, wall or kitchen counter), and lunging (make sure knees and ankles are stable).
4. Shop mindfully: When you go to the store, are you going because you're bored or because you really NEED something? Our society is heavily bombarded with advertisements, literally everywhere! Advertisements are thrown in our faces daily through TV commercials, social media, the dreaded email pop-ups that just know what you "need to have", and even our close friends who are selling network marketing items like cosmetics and clothing. Don't be afraid to say "no", so you can say "yes" to the things or experiences that truly matter most. Focus more on what you have and really think about the reason why you want to buy something. Will this item bring meaning to my life? Will this item be used often? Will this experience bring me joy? If the answer is "yes", then buy the darn thing. If the answer is "maybe" or "not really", then rethink the real reason why you want to make a purchase.
5. Daily gratitude: Wake up every morning grateful for the body you live in, the life you have, and the people and world around you. You will find that the more we focus on what we have, the less we will want. Some of my favorite quotes from The Gratitude Diaries have really changed the way I live each day. Check them out here if you need some added inspiration.
Caution: Practicing gratitude may cause better mental and physical health, more meaningful relationships, and a happier life.
If you have a simple tip or action that has maximized your health, please share the health love below. I would love to learn more on how others are living a more meaningful and healthy life.
Much health + love,
Whenever you see the words "low-fat" or "fat-free," think of the words "CHEMICAL SH*T STORM."
I know there are tons of misconceptions out there in the world today about FAT. These misconceptions are not your fault. The cause is rather careless studies done long ago that have been spread publicly for many years. These studies have led us to believe that all saturated fat is bad for our health. This is FALSE!
In the late 1950's, an American psychologist named Ancel Keys conducted his own health and diet experiment after observing very few trends in various countries. These studies were not scientifically justified, but were published none the less. His studies suggested that saturated fat increases blood cholesterol. It is important to know that his experiments were not performed using real foods rich in saturated fat, but rather saturated fats that had been artificially created from vegetable oils using a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable oils contain not just saturated fat but also trans fat and a whole bunch of other unnatural molecules. Trans fat is what I refer to as "evil fat". I urge you to learn more and dig deeper into these past "fat" studies, because it's quite frightening how this one small event has led to a large increase in obesity and sickness in America today.
Thank goodness that new research is popping up left and right about the amazing health benefits of fat, which is why I wanted to spread the health love to you all.
Extra, Extra Read All About It: FAT is back, and more glorious than ever!
Let's learn how to fuel our bodies with the GOOD FAT and steer clear from the dreaded EVIL FAT.
Natural, unrefined fat provides our bodies with long-lasting energy that stabilizes our "feeling full" hormones. Fat helps our body utilize fat-soluble vitamins and makes our cells strong.
Artificial trans fats are the enemies associated with cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. These fats are man-made and are a completely different chemical structure that harms instead of heals our body.
It is also important to note that some fats are best for high-heat cooking and some fats are better to use for low to no-heat cooking.
HIGH-HEAT COOKING FATS
LOW to NO-HEAT COOKING FATS
*Can use for both low and higher heat cooking.
Try this delicious GOOD FAT recipe (pictured above) for a tasty balanced meal, Simple Crustless Quiche .
I hope your eyes and mind are now a little more open to accepting fats. Remember, fats are our friend, just make sure it's the good guys and not the bad guys :)
Always craving good food,
To pee or not to pee, that is the question.
I realized that I haven't given an update on my pregnancy since the 10 week mark, so I thought I was due to share my current experiences and cravings at 21 weeks. Especially because my body and feelings have changed a lot since then.
Can I just say that the second trimester is sooooooo much more enjoyable than the first trimester. I have no idea what the third trimester has to offer, but boy am I going to ride this joyous roller coaster until then.
Currently, I am going about my day like normal, cooking dinner, preparing lunches for the week, moving my body when I can, and just enjoying the marvelous changes my body is going through. It's still strange that I have no desire to drink coffee (since I couldn't go a day without it before pregnancy), so green tea is my new current addiction. I like mine with a little bit of honey and almond milk, yum! We have made some new purchases and investments, and are doing small things here and there to prepare for the new adventure coming in June! There's nothing like a new baby to push you to get house projects done. Thanks Baby K for the extra motivation :).
My goal or pregnancy "plan" is to have an unmedicated birth, so I did invest in hiring a local Doula, who will prepare and support me and my husband with trying to make my birthing "plan" happen (fingers crossed). If you haven't heard of Doulas or have no idea what they do, definitely check them out because the amount of positive support and education they can give you is amazing! Below is just a small update with some events that are happening now to best fit our needs as preparing to be a bigger family!
BODY CHANGES + FEELINGS:
PROJECTS TO GET DONE BEFORE BABY ARRIVAL:
Hopefully I will have one more pregnancy update before sweet little Baby K arrives in June. Thanks for allowing me to share my pregnancy updates. These blog posts are a fun way for me to journal about my experience, so our future little girl and I have something to look back on to treasure always.
Still craving everything,
Peanut butter and jelly is probably the greatest combination of all time. The nutty and creamy texture of any nut butter paired with a sweet and fruity spread is a perfect union. I don't know about you, but my memory immediately travels back to my childhood as soon as I hear about these two delicious condiments. I loved eating PB + J sandwiches with a large, cold glass a milk and a bag of Utz potato chips, yummy!
This breakfast is hearty and fueling with healthy fats like nut butter, to keep you satiated, and chia seeds, to add some much needed protein! Not only is this delicious breakfast a healthy and simple meal, but it may even take you down memory lane to when you would eat PB + J sandwiches on the regular :). Feel free to use any nut butter or jelly with this recipe, get creative! *When choosing a jelly or jam, make sure the first ingredient is FRUIT.
ALMOND BUTTER + JELLY OVERNIGHT OATS
1. In a large bowl, mix rolled oats, almond milk, almond butter, and chia seeds together using a whisk.
2. Next, divide this mixture into 2 separate mason jars or containers.
3. Then, top each container of oats with 2 tbsp. of jelly and a handful of raspberries.
4. Lid both jars or containers, and let sit overnight in the refrigerator to set and chill.
5. Mix ingredients altogether before eating and enjoy this fun, healthy breakfast!
Always craving good food,
It's about effort, not being perfect.
After working a long day, the last thing you want is to put together an elaborate meal that is not only delicious but healthy too. Well I'm here to spread the good news that you don't have to compromise on the "healthy" part to get a nutritious meal on the table in a hurry.
During the busy work week, I would rather spend more time relaxing and chillin' with the family, than spending an hour in the kitchen preparing a balanced dinner. If you're like me, and are in desperate need of some "dinner shortcuts," then I hope I can help you out.
Listed below are my favorite 12 HEALTHY DINNER SHORTCUTS, with meal ideas included, to help you lessen your cooking time and greater your chillin' time :)
1. Rotisserie chicken
Meal Ideas: Chicken salad wraps or sandwiches; Chicken over salad greens and dressing, Chicken pasta with spinach; Chicken stir-fry; Chicken with some vegetables and a baked potato
2. Chicken sausages
Meal Ideas: Chicken sausage with some veggies and tater tots; Sliced chicken sausage on a homemade pizza; Chicken sausage on toasted sourdough with onions, mustard and a side veggie; Sliced chicken sausage in your veggie pasta with some marinara sauce
Meal Ideas: Veggie and feta omelet; Fried egg wrap or sandwich with bacon, spinach and tomato; Poached eggs with sauteed spinach and tater tots; Veggie egg scramble; Hard-boiled eggs on salad greens and dressing
4. Applegate chicken tenders
Meal Ideas: Chicken tenders with baked potato/tater tots and some sauteed veggies; Sliced chicken tenders over salad greens and dressing; Chicken tender wrap with some hot sauce, ranch and spinach
5. Applegate deli meat
Meal Ideas: Deli meat sandwich on toasted sourdough with favorite condiments and spinach; Hot sandwich (bake whole sandwich in the oven for 8 minutes at 400 degrees) and add condiments; Deli meat wrap with tomatoes, onions and spinach; Deli meat over salad greens and dressing
6. Canned tuna
Meal Ideas: Tuna salad with celery and mayo and/or mustard; Tuna salad sandwich on toasted bread with spinach; Tuna salad over salad greens and dressing
7. Prechopped, spiralized or frozen vegetables
Meal Ideas: Serve as a side dish with your protein of choice; Chicken vegetable stir-fry; Veggie pasta or add to chicken pasta with olive oil and garlic or marinara sauce; Serve steamed with some shredded cheese and a baked potato; Serve spiralized veggie noodles with your favorite marinara sauce
8. Organic soups
Meal Ideas: Serve with a grilled cheese, hot sandwich, tuna salad sandwich, deli meat wrap or small salad and dressing
9. Baked Potatoes (bake + leave it for 1 hour at 400 degrees)
Meal Ideas: Pizza potato by adding your favorite pizza toppings; Taco potato by adding your favorite taco toppings; Serve with butter and a bowl of steamed broccoli, carrots and cauliflower
Meal Ideas: Spinach salad with chicken or boiled eggs; Saute or microwave until wilted to serve with your choice of protein; Veggie pasta by tossing in spinach at the very end so it wilts perfectly; Spinach, tomato and feta omelet or egg scramble
11. Minute rice or Boil-in-bag rice
Meal Ideas: Veggie stir-fry with rice, rotisserie chicken and coconut aminos or soy sauce; Serve as a side dish with your choice of protein and veggie; Chicken taco bowl with rice, rotisserie chicken, salsa, chopped spinach, shredded cheese and guacamole
12. Pasta (Lentil, chickpea, brown rice, black bean or whole grain)
Meal Ideas: Chicken spaghetti by mixing pasta, marinara sauce, spinach and rotisserie chicken; Veggie pasta by mixing pasta, olive oil, garlic and lots of veggies; Macaroni + cheese by mixing pasta, lots of shredded cheese, chopped spinach, garlic powder and a little almond milk for creaminess
I hope these healthy shortcuts are able to help reduce your cooking time in the kitchen and increase your play time! Please comment below to share your favorite dinner shortcuts.
Always craving good food,
“You have a story and your story is your gift.”
Before I thoroughly dive into the dramatic changes that infertility has done for me and my family, let me first describe how my story will be told.
I have categorized my story based on specific elements in my life, money, happiness, movement, love, food, relationships, and home. Doing it this way allows me to explicitly explain the impact that infertility has had on my whole lifestyle. "Infertility Sucks?" seemed like a very appropriate title to my story because it actually does suck. But, like any challenging event in my life I will eventually find a silver lining, a path for learning and growth. If I could give anyone advice about dealing with a "sucky" experience, I would tell others to be intentional in finding ways to make yourself happy every day. YOU and only YOU have the power to make yourself live a sad life or a really happy one.
Infertility = cha-ching $
"Infertility is cheap," said no one ever. This experience made me even more mindful of my budgeting. It made me look carefully at my monthly, weekly, and daily expenses and spending. Luckily for me, my husband made this amazing Excel spreadsheet that lays out all of our expenses and bills. The problem was that I had only looked at this beautifully organized spreadsheet once in my life. Over the three years we have lived together I should have referred back to this resource at least once to reflect or reevaluate our expenses. Well fortunately for us our new infertility bills had led to me to finally reflect and reevaluate our expenses (like I should have done to begin with).
My priorities were changing and it was time to adjust my monetary life to decide what was worth keeping and what was not. To make a long story short, I sold my "new" used SUV (which had a large monthly payment) and traded it in for an older car ($100 less than my previous car's monthly payment). I started selling furniture that never got used in our house in yard sales and on an app called Letgo, which was extremely freeing! I planned our family's meals for the week very carefully making sure only to spend what we needed at the grocery store. Let it be known that I don’t skimp on buying the best, real food ingredients :).
In addition to all of these changes I also had stopped my careless shopping habits. See blog post on simple strategies that helped me shop less.
My shopping habits involved visiting Target and Marshall's monthly to buy new clothes or decorations for the house. These things that I bought I didn't really need, it was just a thrill to purchase new items. All of these changes that I had made seemed to develop nicely into a strategic plan to spend my money in the most intentional way possible. Infertility clinics are expensive and my lifestyle had to change to adjust to this new future baby bill. It felt good to take control of my money, so it was being used purposely to make my life better.
My idea of getting pregnant: It's this magical experience of it “just happening” naturally on it's own.
This wonderful vision I had of how I would get pregnant just didn’t happen for me. When you're infertile it actually takes a lot of practice and commitment mentally and physically. Like anything in life, when things don’t come natural to you, you have to make an effort to practice and have patience that all of your hard work will pay off. Unfortunately, I only have so much control over my body's functions (what goes on inside) and my patience was wearing thin due to daily injections of medication and the emotional stress of it all. The injections weren’t that bad physically, but after two to three months of your body not responding the way you wanted, it finally takes a toll on you. The injections were starting to take control of my travel experiences too.
When my body was getting to a certain point (close to ovulation), it had to be carefully monitored and leaving the local area wasn’t an option. Luckily for me I only had to cancel one trip with some girlfriends due to this experience. And let’s face it, the monotonous injection routine every night at 6 p.m. was no fun either. The more I received injections the more I thought about how I’m never getting pregnant. These negative thoughts consumed my mind even though I consider myself a pretty positive person. Apparently, infertility was trumping my happy thoughts.
But here comes the silver lining! These daily injections changed my outlook on finding daily happiness. Because I dreaded these injections, it forced me to structure my day to include lots of daily activities that brought me joy. At first it was difficult, because it meant saying “no” to people. Saying “no” to people is hard when all you ever want to do is please people and be liked. I never realized just how much I had said “yes” to people, practically 90% of the time.
Before infertility, I would attend all types of events and parties without thinking twice about it. I’m talking about birthday parties, LuLaRoe parties, late night group dates of drinking and eating, committee functions at school, and the list goes on and on. I never thought that a measly five minutes of my day of injecting medicine would be so spiritually and emotionally depleting. This daily depletion of happiness had to be replenished with incorporating more things that made me feel good. My new plan was that if I was asked or invited to attend something, it had to be a “hell yes” or I would just say “no thank you”. From here on out I had decided that I would only do things that brought me joy. I felt empowered and excited for this new person I was becoming.
My workout habit turned into this idea that I had to maintain a tight, defined stomach so I felt confident in my body and looked good around others.
I was a stickler for my three day HIIT workout routine and nothing was going to get in the way of that. Working out made me feel strong, sexy and energized. But my extreme HIIT routine was no longer helping my body or my hormones in this season of my life, but stressing them out instead.
It was time for me to slow it down. Which is really difficult to do when you live a go-go-go kind of lifestyle. The new plan was that I had to stop my intense routine and find more relaxing ways of getting my sweat on. My new movement routine would consist of low-intense workout moves, lots of walking, random push-ups and squats throughout the day, and some monkey bar climbing with my students at recess time. This change in my daily routine transformed me emotionally and physically. I gained about 10 pounds and still felt confident and sexy. I no longer stressed about my aesthetics of having to maintain the leanest stomach. My workout routine went from go-go-go in a short amount of time to being intentionally active throughout my whole day. Stress relieving movements were part of my day now and that made me feel good while still keeping myself strong.
Slowing down forces you to pay attention to EVERYTHING. I began to realize that there was way more value to that story of The Tortoise and the Hare. Slowing down and changing my routine showed me how to appreciate a simple neighborhood walk, being mindful of how I felt, what I saw, the beauty of nature, and friendly exchanges with people. Whereas before I was focused on just pushing my physical limits in a thirty minute time frame. I transformed from a workout robot to an observer, listener, and being more mindful of my surroundings; truly appreciating the world around me and my body way more than I ever had before.
When a partner supports you in all of your glorious personalities, that is true love.
I’ve always known that there is true power in communication, but boy do you really need it more than ever when your hormones are acting all kinds of crazy. Unfortunately, I can’t control what my hormones do when they are being medicated, but I CAN control being open about how I am feeling. My advice on dealing with any difficult event is to talk to your partner about all of your feelings, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Allow yourself to cry, be mad, or act crazy, just as long as you are open and honest. You need to give your partner the chance to at least attempt to understand how you're feeling, so he or she can be your #1 emotional cheerleader. Don't be fearful of your feelings, LET THEM OUT!
If your body craves it, cook it!
I have one body to live in and I will treat it with respect. That includes putting real, or as close to real foods as possible in my body. Eating real, whole foods make me feel energized and happy. Eating good food brings me joy, so dieting or restricting myself would be a severe punishment. It's so vital to fuel your body to do the amazing things it’s capable of doing, like walking, jumping, and having children (women rock!).
I really didn't understand how complicated getting pregnant was until it happened to me. Luckily, the nice doctor at my fertility clinic was able to break it down in terms I understood. Holy cow! There are so many things that have to go perfect in order for you to make a baby. It’s amazing how I am even alive here today with ten fingers and toes. Ladies, our bodies are truly magical beings. Forget the unicorns, because women are the real majestic ones! Bottom line, eat what will fuel your body to do what it does best, thrive!
Hormones control most of our body’s functions. They can make you feel really good or really bad, make you lose or gain weight. They can even make you feel angry, which may lead to the worst case of word-vomit ever. Let’s just say that through this fertility process I started to feel more confident about myself, and less about how anyone else felt. I was getting bolder and braver by the minute and beginning to not give a sh*t of what other people thought of me. The great thing was that my true friends understood what I was going through and forgave me when my mouth decided to run away with itself. Throughout life you will lose friends and gain friends, and this process really sheds light on the people around you. It sheds a bright light to help you spot the people you want in your life and the people you don’t.
Being open about my infertility made my true friendships even stronger, as well as introduced to me a whole new community of positive-minded people. Being honest and real about my ups and downs led others to share their stories and experiences. Connection to others is a wonderful thing. A sense of community and connection is what helped me stay sane and hopeful during this experience. Keep and build upon relationships that will only make you become your best self.
Cleaning bathrooms, laundry, cooking, dusting, vacuuming, fixing, and maintaining are all glorious parts of owning a home. Owning a home is an amazing feeling of both comfort and joy. It's the space that you get to create and customize to match your needs, wants and pleasures. It's the place where you can entertain, as well as try to impress others with your decorative taste and all the cool stuff you have in your house (my feelings about impressing others with our stuff have changed completely now). What I didn't know about being a homeowner before it happened to me is that it's actually a lot of work, mentally and physically.
Whether you have a small or a large living space, it can be very stressful to manage and maintain that space (if we let it). I had found that over the few years we had been living in our home we had acquired lots of stuff.
Some of this stuff sat in a room, closet, boxes or shelf for months or even years just collecting dust. Some of this stuff we used everyday and had a purpose in our lives. But why were we holding on to the dust-collecting and unused stuff? We realized there were several reasons why...
Reasons like not wanting to hurt the feelings of people who had gifted things to us. We kept a lot of stuff because we thought that maybe one day we would use it (but we never did). We also held on to stuff because some were family heirlooms that had been passed down generation after generation and we felt guilty saying "no". This is why it made the process of letting go of our stuff very difficult.
What I have learned during this journey is that STUFF = STRESS. Think about it, the more stuff you have, the more you have to maintain, clean, and worry about. The solution seemed simple to me. Let's GET RID OF STUFF that has no purpose in our life. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! This process was challenging and still is. Living intentionally requires constant questioning and reflecting. I am very proud to say that after six months of selling, donating, and getting rid of stuff that served no purpose in our lives we are now living a much happier and stress-free life. This journey will never be finished or perfect, but we are enjoying the process of letting go!
Hopefully all of my rambling has helped you get a much better understanding of how even the suckiest of experiences can lead to a much more meaningful and happier life. Whether you are going through the same journey as me, or you are dealing with other not so favorable events, remember that there is great growth and learning that comes with every life experience. It all depends on how YOU decide to handle it.
I've listened to your needs and wants to create a simple solution for your dinner plans this week or future weeks. I know your time is precious, but health is of most importance. I only hope to help you simplify your cooking time without compromising the health, nutritional balance and taste of your food. The meals provided for you in the eBook are fan favorites that the whole family can enjoy! Not only will you get 4 simple recipes, but a complete grocery list including all the ingredients needed to make these tasty meals for the whole week.
Click to get your free eBook A SIMPLE DINNER WEEK!
Please let me know how your recipes turned out by tagging me on your Instagram photos at the.clean.and.simple.life or #jilliankraves. Join our health tribe on Facebook too, to either post and/or read other healthy recipes to support a healthy + happy lifestyle!
Happy cooking lovelies!
You can't be the perfect member of Congress and the perfect mother 100 percent of the time. And probably, you'd be a pretty annoying person if you were.
Eating and cooking with real food is very important to me and my family. Real food means high energy and a happy and mobile body. I realize that life can be busy and so time-consuming that we may not be able to cook the freshest meals all the time. Hey, we're human, and life happens!
If you find that you are short on time or just have a lack of energy to cook, then grab some healthy packaged foods and go for it!
I have created a list of my favorite packaged foods and brands that I keep stocked in my kitchen. I mostly do my food shopping at Giant, but sometimes travel to Target, Wegman's and a local organic market to get the goodies.
There are many healthy brands in the market today, but these are the brands that are widely available to me and taste-tested approved!
Look for real ingredients and no added sugars.
Look for just for one ingredient, nuts!
Breads/English Muffins/Pizza Crust/Granola
Look for avocado oil, coconut oil and/or olive oil bases.
Always choose full fat, it's the good kind of fat. :)
Look for grass-fed, pasture-raised and less sodium in processed meats.
What are some of your favorite healthy brands? Share below!
Always craving good food,