Healthy Snack Options

healthy-snack-optionsWe recently realized that we had become way too relaxed on our kids’ snack choices and became aware of just how many carbs our kids were eating daily. They were snacking A LOT between meals and then not eating incredibly well at meal times.

I decided it was time to clean things up a bit and create a healthy snack basket for them to choose from.  I had no idea how much they would love this and how excited they would be to choose from the healthy foods.

I had to laugh yesterday when our 5 year old said, “Mom, I know you don’t want me to have a carb, but can I choose something healthy from the basket?” 

After a trip to the grocery store, I washed and bagged the items.  It didn’t take long and has saved me a lot of time during the week .

15387573_10154364902804081_1442563002_oIncluded in our snack basket:

  • apples
  • grapes
  • jicama sticks
  • baby carrots
  • sugar snap peas
  • cheese sticks
  • dried baby bananas
  • plantain chips
  • yogurt

Packing lunches has also been much easier since having healthy foods ready to go. I’ve been teaching Cason to pack his own lunch by choosing a protein, fruit, vegetable, and carb.

This morning our twin girls decided they wanted to back their own lunches while he did and were so proud of their “lunch bags”.

Not only has this been good for the kids, but Jay and I are much more likely to grab a healthy snack if they are washed and ready to be grabbed when we open the refrigerator.

What are your kids favorite, healthy snack foods?  I’m always looking for new healthy snack ideas.

 

Food Prep Tips

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The weekend is right around the corner!!!!  Taking a little bit of time to prep some food options during the weekend has been a HUGE game changer for me.

In this video I share some of the things I do regularly to food prep.

In my September VIP Membership, I’ll be sharing MUCH MORE about meal planning, much more depth about how I use these foods that I prep in advance, as well as daily devotions, a super simple recipe eBook, and daily check in for accountability.  For more details and to sign up click here!

I’d love to hear if you currently food prep on the weekends and if so, what do you prepare in advance?  If not, have you ever considered trying it?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Benefits of Probiotics

benefits of probioticsThis post is sponsored by Just Thrive. I received product in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

 

Over the last several of weeks, I have been learning a good deal about the benefits of probiotics, how they work, and the effects of a good quality probiotic. But more important than just learning about the positive effects of taking these probiotics, I have experienced these effects firsthand.  

Gut Health and Digestion

Talking about digestion and healthy bowels is never a really pleasant conversation, but the importance of our gut health is HUGE. While I don’t suffer from IBS or leaky gut, I do suffer from thyroid issues and digestive issues.  Since starting to take Just Thrive probiotics, I’ve experienced an improvement in the area of digestive health.  After reading about all of the positive effects, I had asked my husband to start taking them daily.  He was very skeptical at first, but recently admitted that he thinks they have helped him and asked me to order more.

Supports Immune Function

Did you know that 70% of your immune system exists in your intestines?  Immune function isn’t something that most of us think about until we are sick.  Working in a school and having three little ones, I greatly appreciate the increased immune support from taking a probiotic daily.  It’s also incredibly important to me to start my kids off right with healthy guts and good immune support.

 

Finding a Good Quality Probiotic

Good quality probiotics are incredibly important for gut health and full of benefits.  When looking for a good quality probiotic look for one that:

*has a high survivability rate (obviously 100% survivability is best),

*is not only able to make it to the gut, but is also able to remain stable in the presence of antibiotics,

*consists of multiple Bacillus strains.

benefits of probioticsJust Thrive has all of these components and more.  It is a good quality probiotic which consists of four Bacillus strains, which means that 3 billion cells arrive alive in the small intestine.  The friendly bacteria begin to colonize, promoting digestive and overall health.  Just Thrive is able to actually read the microbial environment, getting rid of the bad bacteria and feeding the good bacteria.  Just Thrive can also help seal up leaky guts.  In fact, in a recent human clinical trial with Just Thrive, EVERY person was healed of leaky gut.  Just Thrive also includes beneficial antioxidants and is the first combined probiotic and antioxidant product. If you are looking for a good quality probiotic, I would highly recommend this Just Thrive probiotic.

 

Probiotics and Gut Health


ProbioticSilver Fern Brand has provided product for this review. No monetary compensation was provided. All thoughts and opinions are my own
.

 

As a busy, health-conscious woman and mom, I’m always looking for new solutions that are easy and beneficial to my family’s health, but most importantly taste good! I was pleasantly surprised as I started drinking the Wai drink mixes. They are incredibly tasty, satisfy my sweet tooth, and, in just a week, I’ve experienced a difference in digestion.  

 

Gut health is something that we are hearing more and more about. While it’s incredibly important to fuel our bodies with nutrients, it’s also important that we have good gut health to effectively digest and utilize the nutrients that we are working so hard to ingest.  Poor gut health can lead to things like thyroid issues, joint pain, chronic fatigue, among other conditions. Consuming probiotics is one of the most important things we can do to improve our gut health. Probiotics are live healthy bacteria that are beneficial for the digestive system, increasing the immune system and decreasing illness, promoting urinary tract health, and improving overall health because we are taking care of ourselves from the inside out. When our guts are healthier, we are also able to more effectively metabolize the foods that we eat. Wai’s special probiotic is a spore-forming probiotic that converts the prebiotics and dietary fat into short-chain fatty acids that supports healthy fat metabolism.  Who doesn’t want to metabolize fat better?!

 

I am not able to get my probiotics from foods like yogurt and kefir because I am dairy intolerant, so drinking the Wai mixes has been incredibly beneficial for me. I also love knowing that my kids are receiving the health benefits in a drink that they enjoy and think is a treat. These drinks come in flavors like blackberry pomegranate, strawberry kiwi, and pina colada. While I love the flavors, they have been a little too sweet even for my sweet tooth. I have been adding more water than the 16 oz. called for in the directions. An added benefit of adding more than 16 oz. of water is that there is more to share with my kids. They have no idea that the special “treat” drinks that I’m giving them is full of health benefits. We haven’t been drinking them long enough to notice a difference in our immune systems, but that is an added benefit that I’m looking forward to.

 

probioticYou can find these products at www.SilverFernBrand.com

 

Stay tuned for a review on the #silverfernbrand #pakabakingmixes!  We already have some favorites that I look forward to sharing with you soon.

 

Freezer Meals

Freezer MealsI’m incredibly excited to introduce you to my guest blogger today as she shares about freezer meals!  Elena is a Christ loving, married momma to 3 beautiful blessings.  She says she drinks way too much coffee, she has a passion for the color pink, things that sparkle, and laughs way too loudly.  She loves learning alongside other women, how to love and care for her family and others.


Guest Blogger: Elena Ramirez

We all know the drill, the kids are getting hungry, you’re getting tired and checking the clock, counting down the time until hubby is home, and wondering why picking out what’s for dinner is such a difficult decision when food is just so yummy! No?  No one else?  Just me?  This scenario was happening way too many times a week for me.  Unfortunately, the take out was starting to show on my waistline and in my health.  I felt tired more often than I should, bloated, and I knew my budget wasn’t all too pleased with it either.  Things needed to change.

One of the things I began to implement was freezer cooking, I have a new love for it!  While it does take prep and work, for our family it is SO worth it.  It saves us money – instead of just getting takeout or cruising through a drive thru I’m able to get something from the freezer.  It also helps my momma heart knowing what I’m putting in my family’s tummies. While we can’t (and don’t) always eat the healthiest it’s nice to know we can save some “cheat meals” for another occasion.  It also really helps me to meal plan, but that’s a whole other blog post.

There was a couple of different ways I started freezer cooking.  Batch cooking is a simple and easy way to start. I began to look at some of the canned items I used and figured out if it would be beneficial to freeze instead.  For example, beans are a great item to cook in a large batch and then freeze.  I know what you’re thinking.  It’s really not that hard to open up a can of beans and heat them up though.  Which is true.  But the cost of dried beans vs the cost of canned can save a few pennies in the budget and help your sodium intake!  Don’t believe me? Check out the number crunching here: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/dry-beans-or-canned-beans-a-cost-effective-comparison/  

Another way I implement batch cooking is breakfast items.  Little or no prep in morning meals help the day get off to a much better start instead of when momma is half awake trying to get coffee in her system and littles are whining like they haven’t eaten in 3 days.  Again, no one else? Umm…me either. Making a batch of waffles on a Saturday morning?  Double the recipe and freeze the extras.  Then toss those waffles in your toaster on a hectic morning, and wallah!  DIY freezer waffles!  Do the same with muffins, breakfast cookies, baked oatmeal…you’ll be surprised how quickly you can create a list of things you can whip up.

Dump meals and my slow cooker – the perfect match in my kitchen (and can be in yours too)! I make a bunch of crockpot “dump” meals, meaning you can just dump them in freezer bag then dump that into the crockpot the day of (or defrost overnight in the fridge first if you were thinking that much ahead).  A quick search on Pinterest will link you to a multitude of dump meals, but if eating healthier be wary of the ingredients they call for.  Some call for lots of processed foods that are full of sodium and other items you may be trying to avoid.  

I like to shop by sales or buy in bulk my main ingredient (usually chicken, but also ground turkey) and plan a giant freezer cooking session around that.  It can seem like alot of work at first, but when you have a freezer full of meals all put together it’s so worth it!

If you’d be interested in joining a FREE 5 day Freezer Meal challenge click here!

 

Self-Care

self-careSo you are probably asking yourself one of two questions right now . . . What exactly is self-care?  OR  Who has time for self-care?  I’ve had to work through both of these answers as I’ve gone through the life plan writing process and what I’ve come to find is that this, along with my faith/spiritual growth, these are the two areas that fuel and drive all of my other areas.   When I’m not pursuing the Lord through prayer and reading His word daily and when I’m not taking time to refuel myself, I have very little to give others.

 

Self-care is purposefully taking time to improve you and your physical, mental, and emotional health.  It’s doing something or could be taking time to do nothing, to refuel and restore your joy.  Self-care can come in many forms.  There’s no one size fits all.  The key is to find something that gives you a feeling of joy, fulfillment, and renewal.

 

This is one area of my life that I was neglecting as I first began the process of life plan writing.  Probably because I didn’t value it and didn’t fully realize how taking care of me helped to propel my other life accounts forward.  I started adding self-care into my daily schedule by planning about 30 minutes a day (sometimes broken into smaller chunks of time) to be alone and do something that relaxes and rejuvenates me.  Some days that means just sitting in the backyard for 10 minutes, without my phone, to think and pray.  Some days that means picking up a book to read. Other days it means turning on a favorite show, kicking up my feet, sipping hot cinnamon tea and taking time for me despite the disastrous state of our home.  I don’t think the difference for me came in taking the time, but in the shift of my attitude.  I have started to release the feelings of guilt for not being up and “doing”.  There will always be dishes that need to be done, laundry that needs to be folded, toys that need to be picked up and blog posts that need to be written, but I’m started to really enjoy taking time for me and not feeling guilty.  

 

After a short time of relaxing, I’m able to jump up and get after my daily to-do’s with much more efficiency and I’m much less likely to jump to frustration with my husband or kids.  It’s amazing what a little self-care can do!  Try it!

 
I’d love to connect with you.  Share how you are doing with self-care or what you will do to incorporate it TODAY in the comments below.

My Story of Transformation

11822282_1628339180737438_510648600915068011_nTransformation Tuesday: My Journey to Healthier Living

My journey to greater health hasn’t been a fast one and I honestly am still not where I’d like to be, BUT I am a different person as a result of my journey.

That girl on the left was self-conscious and really uncomfortable in her skin. Getting dressed was a daily chore because nothing looked or felt like I wished it would have. I was fearful of what others thought and held back in life because of my lack of confidence.

Fast forward a couple of years and I’m doing things I never thought I would! I’m stepping out with boldness and working on me. I’m learning to turn my struggles and anxiety to the Lord and not food. I’m stronger, more energetic, healthier, more productive and am a better wife and mom as a result.

In 2013, my son turned 2 and I decided enough was enough and that I was going to lose the weight that I had gained during our infertility and miscarriage journey and my pregnancy weight from having him.  I met my coach online and started in on what would turn out to be a life changing journey.  I purchased a challenge pack complete with a workout program on DVD, meal plan and 30 days worth of nutrient rich shakes.  Following this program along with the accountability and encouragement from the online group was exactly what I needed to see changes in my body.  Three months in, I was feeling great and seeing changes in my body when we were SHOCKED to find out that we were expecting.  After years of trying to get pregnant and then losing the pregnancies, we were so incredibly hopeful at our first doctor’s appointment that we’d see a heartbeat, instead of one heartbeat we saw two.  I truly believe that gaining back my health is also the vehicle that the Lord used to bless us with our precious twin girls.

My pregnancy with the twins was a tough one and set me back in my efforts to continue to improve my health, but I jumped back in with more nutritious food choices and exercise as soon as I was able and once again saw and felt the influence of healthier choices.  

My transformation has been so much more than just a physical transformation. It’s also been a spiritual, mental and emotional transformation.  My faith in the Lord is more deeply rooted, my confidence stronger, my energy higher and my focus improved!

I have seen woman after woman transform as a result of finding health and fitness, a community that encourages them and intentionally seeking the Lord for strength in the journey.  And not only have I seen women’s lives changed, but I’ve seen families’ lives changed.
Imagine where you could be in your transformation journey if you started now?! Reach out to me. I’d love to chat with you about your goals and to be an encouragement and support as you take control of your health and change your life!