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.

 

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!

 

Ten Tips for Healthy Living

blog healthy livingIt is so easy to get derailed from our attempts to improve our health through nutrition and fitness.  These are some of my top tips that will staying on track with your health goals and will help to get you back on track when you’ve fallen off the wagon.

1. Plan ahead – Doing food preparation in advance and having healthy snacks on hand is one way to avoid food emergencies and poor choices.  I meal plan each Sunday, followed by a trip to the grocery store.  My meal plan goes on the refrigerator to remind me of the healthy options that I can make.

2. Cut out sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed foods – The average American consumes 130 lbs of sugar a year! These three things will cause more cravings and work against as you try to reach your goals.

3. Drink more water – Aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day. Often we think we are hungry but we are really thirsty and drinking a glass of water can also help to curb cravings.

4. Make protein at least 25% of your diet – Protein fills you up and regulates your blood sugar.

5.  Fill up on veggies – Find new recipes that include vegetables that you love.  Vegetables are typically low in calories but high in fiber and nutrients.  If you need some ideas click here. 

6. Manage your stress – Exercise, deep breathing, prayer and praise music are some of the ways I manage stress. Oh and dance parties with my kids! Those knock stress to the curb FAST!

7. Follow the 90/10 Rule – I eat “clean” 90% of the time, but do plan in advance for some treats.  Knowing that I can enjoy treats is what keeps me on track the rest of the time.

8. Get moving – Schedule it just like you would anything else. I schedule it twice a day and then if I get it done early in the morning I reward myself by doing something that I love in the 2nd schedule block. If I don’t get it done early, I have to do it during that 2nd time slot.

9. Get 7-8 hours of sleep a night – Our bodies need sleep to function properly!

10.  Find an accountability partner – Having an accountability partner helps to make you think twice before making choices.  Share your goals with someone who will help to keep you on track.

Instead of trying to change everything at once.  Pick one of the things on this list that you need to improve and tackle it this week!  I’d love to hear which you will focus on.  Contact me below and let me know so that I can help to hold you accountable!

Breakfast Ideas

Untitled design (2)Breakfast ideas are something that I’m asked for often.  It seems to be one of the most challenging meals to keep healthy but fix in a hurry!

Three of our favorite healthy breakfast recipes are included below.

 

Overnight Oats

While this recipe takes a little bit of forethought the night before, it only takes about 1 minute to mix up and makes a tasty and filling breakfast.

Ingredients for one serving:

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 milk or unsweetened almond milk

Optional add-ins – amounts are only suggestions and can be altered to fit your tastes.

a handful of berries

freeze-dried fruit

dried cranberries, blueberries or raisins

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp chia seeds

1 Tbsp of powered peanut butter

2 tsp. cocoa powder

Raw local honey, to taste

Maple syrup, to taste

Directions:

The night before, mix 1/2 cup of oats and 1/2 cup of milk  in a small mason jar or container with a lid.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, add any of the optional add-ins and heat in the microwave or enjoy cold.

ENJOY!

 

Egg Muffin Cups

A great recipe for a quick healthy breakfast full of protein are Egg Muffin Cups.  I make these in advance and store them in the freezer.  I pop them into the microwave to heat and have a delicious breakfast.

Ingredients:

12 large eggs

sea salt and pepper to taste

Optional fillings – use any combination

chopped mushrooms

chopped bell peppers

sliced green onions

chopped broccoli

shredded carrots

spinach leaves

cooked breakfast meat – bacon, sausage, ham

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.
  3. Fill muffin cups with desired vegetables from above.
  4. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, filling slightly less than the cup will hold.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until egg is cooked through.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup Shakeology

You can’t beat starting your day with a healthy dose of superfoods, probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, plant-based protein, greens, vitamins and minerals.  Especially when they taste like chocolate and peanut butter.

Ingredients: 

3-4 ice cubes

12 ounces of unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop Vegan Chocolate Shakeology – (contact me if you are interested in trying Shakeology or would like more info on it)

1 Tbsp Peanut Butter OR 1 Tbsp peanut butter power

1 Tbsp raw local honey

Directions:

Blend and Enjoy!

Lasagna Roll-Ups

12963508_1711437932427562_4024227374232447044_nThis has become one of my favorite meals lately. I usually double it to freeze a meal for another night. They aren’t terribly hard to make, they freeze really well and are delicious.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8-10 Lasagna Noodles (I have used regular, whole wheat and rice noodles.  Just be sure to cook them until soft enough to roll up, but don’t over cook them or they will fall apart.)

3 cups of  Light Ricotta Cheese

4 cups of your favorite spaghetti sauce

4 cups of spinach

1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese

Optional: Add turkey or turkey sausage for some additional protein.  (Turkey is not factored into the 21 Day Fix container count.)

Instructions:

  1. Boil your Lasagna Noodles until soft.  It usually takes mine about 8-10 minutes.  Don’t overcook or they will fall apart.
  2. Prepare the filling while the noodles are boiling. Mix the spinach, ricotta cheese, mozzarella in a bowl.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Spray a 9×13 pan (or two smaller pans if you plan to freeze half) with oil.
  5. Once the noodles are soft, pull them out and lay them flat on foil.  Spread the mixture out covering the noodles.  Roll them up.
  6. Place them in the dish(es) and pour spaghetti sauce over the top.
  7. If freezing, cover and place in the freezer.
  8. Cover the dish in foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. ENJOY!

Serves 4

21 Day Fix portions: 1 Serving = 1 yellow, 1 red, 2 green, and 1 blue