What I Ate Wednesday – Week 3

Happy Valentine’s Day all! As I summed up yesterday, we enjoyed a day full of love-themed festivities in our home today. While we enjoyed some outdoor time (it was finally warm enough to take the littlest peanut outside), we also finished some Valentine’s for Isla’s classmates at daycare and enjoyed dipping strawberries. Then we finished our day with a “red” dinner of red lentil pasta with red sauce, plus salad.

The last few weeks have brought full on teething back for Isla and feeding her has been a struggle. While thankfully her spirits have been great, these two year old molars are no joke and food she normally loves have been met with total disdain. I’m operating by the “fed is best,” motto and when worst comes to worst I’m packing her with high calorie foods and smoothies. This includes foods like beans, bananas, nut butters, avocado, oats, chia, whole milk yogurt, etc.

Meal planning has been more simple with the hope that she will eat something (really, anything!) at all. I’m barely using any recipes this week, opting instead for things like rotisserie chicken and bagged salad, and other go-to’s like eggs and chicken sausage.

Here are some photos of what we’ve been eating this week, followed by a comprehensive list of the meals gone by and to come.

aussie-bites
A high calorie snack option this week includes these Aussie Bites from Costco. One cookie = 130 calories and lots of good for you ingredients.
bagged-salad
Bagged salad for the win!
black-bean-brownies
Isla loved making (and eating) these Black Bean Brownies
pasta-veggies-sausage
In a pinch for time one evening, I threw together some pasta with tons of veggies and sauteed chicken sausage
rotisserie-chicken-salad
One of the easiest meals around here is bagged salad with rotisserie chicken or beans. This is especially great on a night when I threw together a mash up of “toddler” foods or a smoothie for Isla’s dinner.
salmon-leftovers
Here’s some leftover salmon from last week, with green beans and mashed potatoes. This ginger kombucha on the side is $4.50 off at Costco through this weekend!
trader-joes-almonds
One of my naptime treats has been these almonds from Trader Joe’s. These have been and probably will always be one of my favorite TJ’s items.

Breakfasts: 

 

 

Lunches/Dinners: 

  • Pasta with Veggies and Mild Italian Chicken Sausage
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Red Lentil Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce
  • Quinoa Fried “Rice”
  • Roasted Turkey and Mozzarella Open Face Sandwiches with Kale, Tomato, and Black Fig Balsamic Vinegar
  • Eggs with Chicken Sausage

Sides: 

  • Taylor Farms Mediterranean Crunch Chop Salad
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Green Beans with Garlic
  • Sticky Sesame Cauliflower
  • Roasted Beets and Carrots
  • Homefries
  • Fruit Salad

What are you eating this week? Share in the comments below.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Muffins

I can’t believe I’m even saying this. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I’m pretty excited. And I would say before last 2016, I always felt the complete opposite about Valentine’s Day.

Rewind that paragraph. Chris and I are high school sweethearts. We’ve been together a whopping 16 years this year. That’s officially more than half my life (holy crap!) But, while I love love, until last year I was never in love with Valentine’s Day. A day that’s supposed to be the best day of the year to celebrate love was a day that often felt fake. The giant balloons, overpriced cards, overcrowded restaurants, and overabundance of pink and red were not my favorites. But suddenly, I had a change of heart (har har).

So, what happened? Um, yeah–I had a baby. Like with many things, motherhood completely shifted my mindset and now I’m pretty  pumped for Valentine’s Day.

I know I’m not alone in saying Valentine’s Day always felt like a hallmark holiday. Maybe you still think it does. Along with the list above, it seemed trite to celebrate love on a day everyone else does. But then, last year, for Isla’s first Valentine’s Day my mindset shifted. I was suddenly so excited to have a day to shine a spotlight on the best emotion in the world: love!

I realized I needed to shift my attitude about Valentine’s Day and change how we celebrate the holiday. When I think about the traditions we’re starting in our family surrounding this holiday, it’s less cookie cutter and more about teaching our children what love means in our family.

Yes, our babies love balloons so I’m sure we’ll have some of those. And they will inevitably get excited about the silly tchotchkes for years to come too, but more than anything Valentine’s Day is a special day to highlight how we show each other how we love.

Isla’s personality has really bloomed as she’s grown in her short 19 months of life and I always tell her, “I love how much love is in your heart.” Love is a emotion she has been inherently gifted and she shares it so freely everywhere we go. She loves to blow kisses and give hugs. To help her put words to not only how she feels when she loves, but to many of the other feelings she’s experiencing (terrible 2’s are around the corner, right?) we have been reading this fun book about called In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek.

I’m excited to see how Josie’s personality grows and how she displays her love. This week we are of course doing lots of Valentine’s Day themed arts and crafts and cooking and baking special treats.

Like painting and tracing hearts. Coloring and pom pom crafts. Making chocolate covered strawberries. And making muffins!

Last week I gave you a heads up about a Valentine’s Day inspired muffin recipe I’ve been crafting and I’m happy to share it with you today! This is a recipe  inspired by a treat everyone in our house loves: chocolate covered strawberries. Oh em gee. Yum!

While we’ll be making actual chocolate covered strawberries tomorrow as a fun and festive activity (and dessert for after dinner), I wanted to make a muffin recipe using my favorite protein pancake mix too. Seriously, you would think Kodiak Cakes sponsors my blog, but no. I just love their product and am constantly coming up with new recipes. I have to keep sharing them with you. Sorry, not sorry.

Muffins are one of the easiest breakfasts. I can plop one on a plate for our toddler. Chris can toast one and pair it with a fried egg and fruit. And I can grab one on my way out the door or while sprinting around the house.

This recipe uses strawberries and chocolate chips and just a few other simple ingredients. And if anyone wants to attempt this recipe with some regular flour and baking powder, you should let me know how it goes. Tomorrow I think we might all sit down and take a few moments together to enjoy one of these topped in whipped cream and sprinkles.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Protein Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Kodiak Cake Power Cakes pancake mix
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup slightly thawed and chopped frozen strawberries (or fresh)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Prepare your muffin tins like normal. Combine all ingredients except strawberries and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  2. Gently fold in strawberries and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour into muffin tins*.
  4. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes, or until the edges of the muffins are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan. Let finish cooling and enoy!

*I love to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make the perfect sized muffins.

How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? What are your traditions? Share in the comments below. 

What I Ate Wednesday – Week 2

It’s another busy week, but that’s not keeping us from eating healthy around here. Is it just me, or does everyone else find themselves restocking the pantry this time of year? I find I need to refill things like sugar, oils, cereals, oats, and a whole lot more this time of year. Why is that?

Perhaps it’s because I’m not bolstering our menu with quite as many veggies. We’re of course still eating a lot of vegetables, but we seriously eat a ton more in the warmer weather months. We work more into what we bake, snack on, etc.

Restocking the pantry often leads t a trip to Trader Joe’s. Thankfully (according to my husband and our bank account) we don’t live super close to one. But that means I load up when I make it there! This week’s menu features one of our favorite family treats: their ravioli. Here’s everything else I’ve been or will be whipping up in our kitchen this week!

ravioli
Butternut Squash and Arugula Ravioli (thanks Trader Joe’s)
stuffed-peppers-2
Black Bean, Quinoa, and Sweet Potato Stuffed Bell Peppers
beets-trader-joes
I don’t go to Trader Joe’s often, but I love these beets!
breakfast-quesadilla
I find I need to cram in some serious calories when before starting a day on the road to see clients. This carb and protein loaded breakfast is perfect. 

Breakfasts:

  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Breakfast Quesadilla (tortilla, scrambled egg, leftover potatoes, and cheddar cheese)
  • Steel Cut Oatmeal (with raisins, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and maple syrup)
  • Yogurt with Granola

Lunches/Dinners:

Sides: 

  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Butternut Squash
  • Sliced Fruit
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Roasted Cauliflower
  • Sauteed Green Beans
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes

Side note: I’m working on a fun Valentine’s Day inspired muffin recipe. I can’t wait to share it with all of you next week! Stay tuned!

What are you cooking or baking this week? Or what are you restocking in your kitchen? Share in the comments below. 

 

What I Ate Wednesday – Week 1

Happy Wednesday all! While many fondly look forward to this “hump day,” or halfway point in their work week, I have to admit: my new work schedule has me looking forward to it for different reasons than I used to. While I’m working outside the home on Tuesdays and Thursdays as a trainer and on my blog, I don’t really look at Wednesday as the halfway point through my work week. I actually love the work I do and am looking forward to getting into a new “regular” work routine.

I spend my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with our girls, doing my #1 job: MOM! As anyone who stays home with their kids (either full or part-time) knows, any day I spend with them is equally awesome and exhausting (okay, some days are more of one or the other…). So, by Wednesday, I’m always most excited thinking about spending family time with the four of us. Ie. with dad home! Our girls love their daddy, and I do too.

However I’m spending my time during the week, finding time to prepare meals can be tough. Yet, maintaining healthy habits in our home is essential so I thankfully have some great healthy and easy recipes that I pull from. My husband regularly teases me for not repeating recipes. The truth is, I use a lot of recipes as a base and then make them my own by altering to fit what’s in our pantry or using our favorite ingredients, so they may not always taste the same.  I also love to find new recipes to try because I like to cook. But when meal planning, I typically make a the following “big picture” staples here:

  1. poultry with sides
  2. egg and veggies (casseroles, omelettes, etc)
  3. beans (either burgers or salads)
  4. vegetarian (casseroles, salads, sandwiches)
  5. fish with sides

Quite a few bloggers like to share what they’re eating on a regular basis and I’m deciding to share too. I’m putting in the time to plan these meals anyways and being transparent with my readers help hold me accountable. Plus, I know I’ve loved gathering recipes from some of my favorite bloggers.

I’ve shared my love for Kodiak Cake pancake mix before, and I’m sure I will a ton more. This stuff has a cult following and I can’t keep away. This week I whipped up some delicious blueberry muffins and chocolate peanut butter pancakes. I can almost guarantee I’ll make another dozen muffins before the week is up. But, here’s a more comprehensive look at what I’ve been (or will be) cooking around here this week.

Blueberry-protein-muffins

chocolate-pb-pancakes

Roasted-turkey-veggies.jpeg

spaghetti-squash-lasagna-bowls.jpeg

lactation-bites

Breakfasts:

Lunches/Dinners:

Sides: 

  • Garlicky Roasted Potatoes
  • Sauteed Green Beans
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Beets
  • Sauteed Broccoli, Asparagus, and Spinach
  • Fruit Salad

What are you eating this week? Share in the comments below. 

Easy & Healthy Protein Hot Chocolate

This winter has been all kinds of funky and cold this year. States who rarely see snow are seeing it, and lots of it! And temps have been bitterly cold all over. We’ve been enjoying a few snow days and when I think back to snow days as a child, one of my favorite traditions was homemade hot chocolate.

Who doesn’t love sipping on a cup of hot chocolate to warm up after frolicking outside in the snow? After spending hours outside sledding with my siblings as a kid, my mom used to make us a steaming pot of her own homemade hot chocolate. She served it a fun cat teapot, dressed festively in winter garb. It’s a tradition I treasure and still think back on whenever I have hot chocolate as an adult. Though I’ll admit, this summer loving girl can enjoy sipping her cocoa sans playing outside.

My protein packed hot chocolate recipe uses a few simple ingredients: milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, maple syrup, a pinch of sea salt, and Promix whey protein powder. This recipe takes hardly any time to make, has a whopping 20 grams of protein, and is super tasty! It’s the perfect snack or after meal treat. Yum!

Before you get started, I’ll share a warning. Use a kitchen thermometer to watch the temperature of your hot chocolate! You only want to heat the milk to steaming, or about 100 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the protein powder from curdling. I promise, this temperature is perfect for sipping your beverage!

ingredients

protein

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Protein Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of milk (any will do, but cow’s milk will provide 8 g of protein)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 scoop Promix chocolate whey protein powder (12.5 grams of protein)

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pan and heat over medium high heat, whisking frequently.
  2. Heat only until steaming, or to 100 degrees Fahrenheit*.
  3. Add in your favorite extras (marshmallows and whipped cream?) and enjoy!

*Watch the heat, steaming the milk to just 100 degrees Fahrenheit! WARNING: If you heat the milk too much the protein powder will cause your drink to curdle.

**You can always swap all of the hot cocoa ingredients for your favorite store bought mix too and just add the protein powder.

What are your favorite snow day traditions? Share in the comments below! 

Healthy Snacks That Satisfy

It’s no secret, when it comes to being healthy, diet is important. Diet isn’t a word I ever use as a means to lose weight. I actually hate when people say, “I’m on a diet.” It’s something I don’t let my clients say (at least around me).

Why am I such a hater about this word? Probably for the same reasons most of your favorite fitness professionals agree with me. When we’re on a diet, it’s like a short term commitment. Our regular diet should be exactly that–things we eat on a regular basis. When my clients are making diet changes, I am always asking if they are missing something. A favorite treat? And then we address how they can either reincorporate a particular item back in, or find something similar that won’t wreak so much havoc on their goals.

Today I’m sharing some of my favorite healthy snacks that support my health and fitness goals. These items are staples in my diet. I would say I eat at least two of these options each day. When I think about a snack I try to keep my added sugar intake low. Then, I always eat some protein and typically, I add in a carb and I definitely make sure I’m eating some fat too.

Some people still balk when I emphasize that they must have fat in their diets. But low fat is not the healthier trend. If you didn’t know this yet, I’m so excited to educate you.

I remember a news story came out recently about soy and how soy products have been labeled as heart healthy, per approval by the FDA. The FDA has now taken a step back on their approval to label soy products in this way, instead saying soy MAY be heart healthy, but it’s no sure thing. A woman being interviewed said she was so confused by this change and ultimately about what were smart grocery choices for her family. She goes to the store and reads the labels and feels like the best choices are always changing. It was at that point in the feature story that I started yelling at the TV.

Another thing that drives me nuts is how so many people are educated about what’s “healthy” by reading the boxes and containers at the grocery store. Those packages are labeled by marketers, not nutritionists.

This method of education is exactly why so many people believe low fat (or even worse, no fat) is one of those smart choices. In reality, fat is an important of any person’s diet. Fat helps absorb essential vitamins and minerals. Fat supports cell growth. Fat helps with important hormone functions in the body. And fat leaves you feeling satisfied for longer because it takes longer to break down in the body.

I understand we are busy, but doing just a little independent research regularly about what you put into your body is so important. Think about how many times we feed ourselves in a day. And the number of times we feed our family.  Even if we only eat three times per day, that’s almost 1100 times we make a choice about what to put in our body. Aside from sleep, I argue we eat more than we do anything else in our lives. If we can make seriously smart choices even 50% of the time, that’s a lot of opportunities to be healthy and be that best version of ourselves.

I won’t get into it here, but some feel so strongly that fat is the most essential part of their diet that they are on “keto” or ketogenic diets. So their diets consist of foods that are mostly high in fat. I personally opt for a more traditional diet balanced in carbohydrates, protein, and fat. But fat is an excellent source of energy and when consumed in moderation, it can certainly help maintain a healthy body weight–and support your ideal body composition too.

So yes, all of the snacks here have a mixture of nutrients, including fat, which is really why I think they’re so satisfying. Meaning,  you normally won’t be running back to the cabinet for another handful of chips an hour later. I also love that these snacks are easy to grab and go with. It seems I’m always on the move, either chasing after my baby, running errands, or exercising. These snacks require minimal prep and most even keep well in your purse or backpack.

Here are some of my favorite snacks. Nutrition information is from MyFitnessPal:

Veggies with Hummus – I use whatever veggies I might have in the fridge. Some of my go-to’s are carrots, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, broccoli, and radishes. The veggies are full of healthy carbs and protein (yes, veggies have protein too!), and the hummus packs even more protein and fat.

One cup of assorted veggies + 2 tablespoons of hummus = 180 calories/7 g fat/14 g carbs/8 g protein

hummus-veggies

Kind Bar + Apple – This is such an easy snack to grab and take on the go. I keep Kind bars in my purse for when I’m running errands and hungry. I also almost always grab a piece of fruit like an apple, orange, or banana on my way out the door in the morning.

Kind bar + apple = 270 calories/15.5g fat/38 g carbs/6.5 g protein

kind-bar-apple

Protein Muffins + Clementine– As I’ve shared before, I’m often using Kodiak Cake Pancake Mix to make food at our house. Various protein muffins are a staple around our house. I often make a few dozen and throw them in the freezer. The muffins featured here are pumpkin chocolate chip. Sometimes I have one. Sometimes I have two. I almost always combine my serving with a piece of fruit to get an extra bit of sweetness.

One pumpkin protein muffin + clementine = 215 calories/7.9 g fat/32.4 g carbs/6.3 g protein

protein-muffin-fruit

Salad – One of my favorite snacks lately has been prepackaged salads from Costco. They have a kale salad, and now this tasty organic “Mediterranean Crunch Chopped Salad Kit.” Holy yum! I mix this up and grab scoopfuls for a couple days. You can easily make this a meal by adding some grilled chicken or fish.

2 servings of Mediterranean Crunch Chopped Salad = 300 calories/20 g fat/26 g carbs/6 g protein

salad

Trail Mix – This particular trail mix is the kind with the M&Ms. Not organic, but seriously the best. We get a giant bag of this from Costco and love it. I regularly get trail mixes from Marshalls and TJMaxx too and those have more dried fruit and no candy. Still tasty, but sometimes I like to indulge a little (ie. I love chocolate).

3 tablespoons of trail mix = 160 calories/10 g fat/12 g carbs/5 g protein

trail-mix

Plain whole milk yogurt + vanilla extract + granola – Here’s one of my full fat dairy products! This is either a great snack, or sometimes I make it breakfast too. Adjust the serving size to suit your needs.

Instead of buying vanilla yogurt which has tons of added sugar, I flavor my own yogurt with vanilla extract. It has no added sugar, little to no calories, and I actually think it’s much tastier. Sometimes I add a pinch of cinnamon too. This particular granola is from Love Crunch and it’s their Dark Chocolate Macaroon flavor.

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt + 1/4 cup granola = 440 calories/21 g fat/44 g carbs/12 g protein

yogurt-granola

Not pictured, but other favorite snacks of mine include:

  • avocado with salsa in the middle
  • a scrambled egg and sprouted grain toast
  • 1/2 a cheese quesadilla + fruit (sometimes I add black beans or shredded chicken)
  • a cheese stick and veggies
  • sprouted grain crackers with guacamole and tomatoes

What are some of your favorite snacks? Share in the comments below! 

38 Weeks Pregnant Update

It’s Tuesday and it’s been two weeks since I’ve posted. And oh what a two weeks it’s been! I officially started maternity leave, leaving my post at the gym and literally the next day I started having contractions. From 15 minutes apart to 7 minutes apart, from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.. I called my doctor’s office and they suggested we have child care come over. So, I called my mom and got my hubby home from work. Yet, here we are, two weeks later and wait–no baby? That’s right. Not yet! So what happened?

It turns out, this mommy is having loads of fun experiencing this thing called prodromal labor. Prodromal labor is a super fun experience kind of like false labor (sense the sarcasm?). Except prodromal isn’t false labor because contractions feel real, last 60 to 90 seconds, and they consistently get closer and closer together. And then they just stop. In false labor, you get these shorter contractions maybe 15, 7, 5, 20, 2, etc. minutes apart. There’s no rhyme or reason to their pattern. I experienced that with Isla and while uncomfortable, I knew it wasn’t real. This is harder to distingush.

Not only can prodromal labor be phyisically exhausting (the uterus is a muscle and mine is sore after hours of contractions), but it’s emotionally exhausting. I get so excited that it might be time, and then when they just stop I feel pretty let down. It’s also hard because I don’t know if I’m going to know when I’m really in labor. At this point, I’m pretty used to just feeling contractions every day. If you’ve gone through this, feel free to reassure me I’ll know the difference!

I’ve read about what causes it, and basically they don’t know. They said if your baby is facing the wrong way in your pelvis, that can cause it. But they confirmed our baby is not. So, I’m not really looking for a reason any more. Instead, I’m just living life day to day and trying my best to be patient. Not my best virtue. Haha.

Continuing along the timeline, after the first day of labor pains, I then came down with a horrible sinus infection. And then the real icing on the cake (because I’ll handle whatever I’m feeling), Isla came down with a stomach bug that lasted four days! Happy maternity leave mommy!

No, but seriously. I felt so bad for our poor girl. She was such a trooper and thankfully I’m happy to report she’s feeling much better. But boy, was momma tired last week! I wasn’t feeling like nesting for once, but I was forced to do just that. I disinfected our house and washed endless amounts of laundry for five days straight. That was basically my exercise last week, though I did do a couple 20 minute workouts during naptime and before lunch. I just needed to make sure my muscles were feeling as balanced as possible. Funny thing, pregnancy can totally mess with your body’s alignment! So, exercise helps me keep the right muscles engaged and feeling strong.

By this past weekend, we were all feeling better (or had stayed healthy) and with some awesome weather–albeit hot–in New England, we headed out for an early morning hike on Saturday. This baby is super low, as they keep reminding me at my weekly check ups, and I was hoping we could just keep working it down with a short hike. We set out for 1.25 miles on a relatively flat trail, and after taking a wrong turn, ended up completing about 2.5 miles of elevation. A part of me can’t believe I’m so proud of those 2.5 miles, but I am. I celebrated being 38 weeks pregnant with a hike I know I couldn’t have done at the end of my last pregnancy and that is AWESOME! Bottom line–we are often so much stronger than we think! And that is just the reminder this mom needed before heading into labor.

38-weeks-pregnant-hike.jpeg

Other pregnancy related updates:

With just a couple weeks to go, I have still only gained about 26 pounds. I haven’t gained more than about a pound in the last 6+ weeks. And for the first time ever, they started telling me my belly is measuring small. This initially made me very nervous. However, I’m again having faith and trusting my doctors and midwives.

Two professionals have now assured me that since Isla was breech and this baby is not, that my belly was going to look and measure very differently this time. Last week they also said my belly will measure differently when the baby is as low as ours is. Finally, they reassured me they are not worried about my weight. No matter, I’ve been trying to pack in some extra food this week. I want to make sure I’m taking care of this baby to the best of my ability, but am also trying to listen to my body. Like last time, I eat when I’m hungry, and I’m certainly not eating 100 percent healthy. Last week I kept joking I was eating my feelings. I ate ice cream, donuts, a box of mac and cheese, and a bagel (or two). But honestly, after just devouring a salad for dinner tonight (with a burger on top!), that’s definitely more my speed this pregnancy. It’s so funny how pregnancy cravings can be different!

What have you been up to in the last couple weeks? How have you been staying active? Help me pass some time in the comments below.