Couples Challenge!

couples challenge

This coming week is going to be exciting–and not simply because the US Open begins (though, as a tennis-watching freak, I am SUPER pumped about that!).  This week will rock because the Beachbody Health Bet kicks off.  Curious?  Here is an easy 5-step plan to capitalize on this:

1. Join our challenge group, Betting on You!
2. Log at least 3 workouts a week–which can be any workout you wish (a BB program, a class at the gym, a run, yoga, ANYTHING!)
3. Post pics of your Shakeology at least 5 times a week.
4. Be motivated and held accountable at every step of the way by your awesome coach–me!
5. Receive a check from Beachbody when all is said and done.

Seriously, it doesn’t get any easier! We’d love to share this experience with as many couples as possible, but are welcoming solo participants as well. This just can’t be beat! Beachbody believes in its products–especially in Shakeology–so much that it is pledging between $1-3 million to be split among all qualifying challengers. I will lead the way and make sure each of you qualifies and gets PAID!

I am adding an extra twist to this group: while I will have one group geared towards women, I am also running a COUPLES CHALLENGE.  Get healthy, strong, and active with your partner.  You know what they say: the couple that sweats together stays together!

Fill in this submission form so I can get you started TODAY!

BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Bake

I have had this blog on my to-do list for about a week. I’ve actually had a lot of tasks on my to-do list for about a week.  It is that time of year: summer is ending and a new school year approaches. I am excited to meet my new students in exactly two weeks, but I still have to accomplish quite a bit before I’ll feel ready for my 11th year of teaching.  Wow.  Now I feel old.  Here is a look at some of the task to-be-accomplished in the coming weeks:

  • I need to lesson plan/create my calendars for September for my 5 different classes.
  • I need to set up my 3 classrooms.
  • I need to finish our One Book, One School text (Brothers Forever) and finalize my class discussions and assignments for it.
  • I need to meet with my new co-teacher (probably my favorite list item!) to lesson plan and brainstorm a great year.
  • I need to coordinate drop-offs, picks-ups, and childcare for all three children who, for the first time, will be attending three different schools/facilities.
  • I need to continue meal prep.

You read that right: meal prep.  I have been doing two or three simple meal prepping tasks a week to help me find success and ease this coming school year–especially during those chaotic mornings when five people and 2 dogs need to be settled for the day.

I’ve made batches of clean pancakes and muffins that are now sorted and in my freezer.  I’ve made an assortment of meatballs–traditional turkey, Kung Pao chicken, etc–that are portioned and frozen as well. And I’ve started experimenting with meals that can be made ahead or that yield abundant leftovers.

One such winner is this BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Bake.  It is a simple casserole filled with fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients. It is clean comfort food, so to speak, that will be perfect on a fall night when you long for a taste of summer but crave the warmth of a wholesome dinner.

What is quinoa? Quinoa is a grain discovered thousands of years ago by the Incas.  It has gained popularity recently because it is a complete protein, is higher in fiber than most other grains, and is naturally fortified with vitamins and minerals.  You can use it like you would rice or even oatmeal. My son and I even like it cooked and turned cold with milk–a deliciously filling cereal! It adds bulk to this casserole without adding empty calories.  You won’t need a large portion of this meal to not only feel full, but to reach your nutritional goals for the day.

I used a rotisserie chicken for this recipe.  I’ve become slightly obsessed with rotisserie chicken because it is so easily shredded and turned into awesome, easy meals.  You could easily throw chicken breasts in the crock pot and shred those if time allows!  Whatever you choose, this dish will not disappoint!

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BBQ Chicken & Quinoa Bake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 40min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A hearty, healthy one-dish dinner!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked to package directions (makes about 3 cups)
  • 6 cups shredded chicken
  • 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth, plus more for baking if you prep ahead of time
  • 3/4 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Mexican cheese blend, as much as your little heart desires

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 9×13 in casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Prepare quinoa per package directions. While it boils, shred your chicken and dice your veggies.
  3. Once quinoa has cooked, spread it evenly throughout the baking dish.  Top with shredded chicken, then all of the veggies and beans.
  4. Pour the chicken broth evenly over the entire casserole. Give everything a gentle toss, then top with BBQ sauce and cheese.
  5. Bake for approx. 25 minutes.  Serve immediately!

Tell me what you think of the recipe and if you change it up in any way.  I may make it another time Hawaiian style, with pineapple!  This can easily be prepped on Sunday and baked a day or two later, just add more chicken broth to make sure the quinoa and chicken do not dry out.  Quinoa absorbs so much water!

Want more recipes like this one?  Join my newsletter to be the first to learn of new content–and to receive a FREE eBook of my best weeknight dinner recipes!

Peach Cobbler Oat Muffins

I’ve written before about my love for muffins.  I just love them.  They are a marker of childhood and of my processed past life.  Though I have easily given up many, many processed mainstays–Twizzlers, PopTarts, flavored yogurts–muffins continue to call my name.  I have a hard time shopping at Whole Foods without slowly walking passed the gleaming glass case of delicious, giant, dessert-like goodness just dreaming of how badly I want just one Lemon Poppyseed or Pumpkin Chocolate Chip or Apple Strudel muffin–and these are just 3 of the baked cupcakes–I mean, muffins, begging for me to give in. I know I could.  No one would judge me and I know one muffin won’t undo my progress.  But I also love going out for ice cream with my kids and I love adding extra banana and peanut butter to my Shakeology and I love going over my carbs with watermelon and white nectarines and white peaches.  I don’t want to waste any cheats on a muffin that may as well be a slice of cake for all of the sugar and calories and who knows what it contains.

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So I’d rather make my own.  And make my own I did.  Kayden helped me, which is always a riot.  She had the job of measuring out the ingredients while I grated the produce (yes–fresh produce), finished making dinner, fed the baby, and assisted Paxton with a few video game glitches. Regardless, the batch came out perfectly.  So busy moms, you can easily make these one weekend and freeze them for quick, go-to breakfasts once school starts! This will quickly thaw in the micro and you can either eat as-is or pop in the toaster if time allows.

White peaches are one of my favorite summertime fruits.  I stalk the produce department of every grocery story and check some farmers’ markets religiously until I uncover some. And when I do, cost per pound be damned!  I am buying at least 5 because I will eat at least one a day.  Like the last chocolate chip cookie, I will wait until my kids are asleep or fully distracted before indulging in a white peach just so there is less of a chance I’ll have to share.  I figured this delicacy would be the perfect main ingredient in my next foray into recipe testing some muffins.  I was right! Plus, the most important element of clean eating is eating according to the season.  Your grocery bill will be smaller and the food you waste will be less when you buy local, in-season produce. Peaches are perfect for summer treats and when fall hit, you can trade them out for apples in this recipe for a yummy autumnal treat.

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You could use a traditional peach instead of the white variety, but I really urge you to give a white peach a try. There really is no comparison.  My grandpa George, who passed away while I was in high school, also loved this fruit.  Trust me–he knew a good peach when he met one.  You could have just asked my grandma Agnes about that. I savor each one with him in mind and know that I am making both of them proud–Poppy George by honoring his favorite fruit and Nanny Agnes by becoming quite comfortable in my kitchen–with this recipe.

These muffins are not only loaded with fresh ingredients, including zucchini–because I put veggies in everything anymore–but they are also flourless, dairy-free, sugar-free, egg-free, and gluten free, if necessary.  These are not flavor-free, though.  Banana and peach provide the perfect summer sweetness and the zucchini adds enough moisture that you don’t need oils or apple sauce.

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Peach Cobbler Oat Muffins

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Time: 40-45min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Flourless, dairy-, and sugar-free muffins perfect for before-school breakfasts!

Muffin Mix

  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds + 6 tbsp water, combine and set aside (creates flax eggs)
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten free if needed)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 large white peach, skin on, grated
  • 1/4 c all-natural peanut butter (sub in any nut or seed butter if allergies exist)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, grade B
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • 1/2 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp (use your judgement!) pure maple syrup, grade B
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 18 muffin cups with coconut nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Prepare flax eggs and set aside to gel. Combine topping ingredients and set aside to “marinate.”
  3. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir in the flax eggs as well.  The batter will be moist and, depending upon how juicy your produce is, you may need to add in more oats.  Do so one tablespoon at a time until the batter is as thick as rice pudding.
  4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups.  You can fill them all the way since they will not rise as they bake, or leave a little extra room for the topping.  You should get 12-18 out of the batter depending on how high you fill the cups.
  5. Spoon a little bit of the pecan topping onto each muffin.  Gently press down with the back of the spoon to secure the pecans in place. If extra syrup remains, feel free to drizzle it onto the muffins.
  6. Back for 25-30 minutes, depending on the height of each muffin.
  7. Cool for five minutes before removing from the tin.  Eat immediately, store in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze to enjoy later!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these muffins.  When my son first tried them, he yelled “Please make these again!” I’ll take that response any day!

And if you want more recipes like this one, please join my Back To School clean eating group!  It is a private Facebook community through which I’ll share breakfast and lunch recipes perfect for moms and kids on the go!

 

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The Mommy Olympics

Much like Michael Phelps, I have been training my whole life for this. I practiced stopping a fasme and kellent as hell crawling baby from eating the dog food while wiping a toddler’s butt by chasing after my hamster, Elway, when ever he got loose from his cage. I trained for dealing with a 5 year old’s messy room by being a messy 5 year old. Late nights holding back the hair of my sorority sisters prepped me for raising a daughter who claims she “is about to throw up” whenever she hears the word bedtime.  I just didn’t realize that in the Mommy Olympics, aka everyday life, there is no medal to be won or podium to pose on–just a stainless steel pot with day-old stuck-on food and a pile of laundry to tackle.

Nonetheless, if there were Mommy Olympics, I know I’d be pretty good at them. And if I was MOB Boss–you know, Boss of the Mommy Olympics Board–I would run a pretty mean set of games.  Here are 10 events you may be training for this very minute.

CAR SEAT TRIATHLON

This is the event of all events. Moms must install a car seat, buckle a screaming child into said car seat, and follow all car seat laws without uttering one curse word and do so in the fastest time.  I would never win this one, but a girl can dream.

NAIL PENTATHON

This game is set up much like gymnastics.  It is a rotation of mini events:

  1. Trimming the nails of a newborn without drawing blood or drawing tears–from either of you.
  2. Trimming the nails of a slippery, post-bath toddler.
  3. Clipping the toenails of a ticklish preschooler.
  4. Picking up the toenails left behind by Dad, which he scattered around his favorite living room chair.
  5. Painting your own toenails with a child–any aged child–present.

All events are scored separately and, like golf, lowest total time for all events wins!

BABY CARRYING

No, this isn’t some pretty synchronized baby wearing waltz.  This is “who can do what and do it best while carrying a baby” down-and-dirty competition. Like tennis, you must win your way to the championship by outplaying your opponent in each round.  The rounds include:

  1. Loading and unloading the washer and dryer before your opponent while holding a 10-pound baby.
  2. Making a complete dinner before your opponent before your opponent while holding a 15-pound baby.
  3. Changing the sheets on a king-sized bed–including the fitted sheet–before your opponent while holding a 20-pound baby.
  4. And the championship round: Getting a toddler dressed for school before your opponent while holding a sleeping baby.

BATH BATTLE

Bath Battle is not convincing your filthy, smelly 3-year old to get in the damn bath before you count to 5.  Bath Battle is giving the same 3-year old a bath with as little spillage/splashing as possible.  The mom with the fewest ounces of water lost from the tub at the conclusion of the event wins.

MOMMY MARATHON

Yes, a marathon–but this one has nothing to do with running.  [collective sighs of relief] Any mom–and I hope there are multiple winners, for all our sakes!–who can go an entire 24-hour period without her child saying “I’m hungry!” gets a gold medal and a glass of Cabernet. And my eternal admiration.

HOUSEHOLD HURDLES

This game is like an obstacle course in familiar territory: your own home! Moms will start in their bedroom and when their iPhone alarm sounds, make their way downstairs, over baby gates,  and around piles of Legos to be the first one to turn on the Keurig, brew, and drink a cup of coffee–without waking anyone in the house! Oh, and did I mention this all happens while carrying a full basket of laundry? Silver medals to all moms who at least brew the coffee but have to drink it cold hours later.

DIAPER DASH

For the Usain Bolt-type moms, this is your event!  Change a baby in the fastest time–but this means new onesie, new diaper, new diaper cream application, AND put socks on the baby. Good luck!  My 9 month old hasn’t worn socks since the temp hit 60 because I just can’t. I just can’t.

KITCHEN CURLING

This event is exactly like it is in the real Olympic event, except your teammates are your kids, the court is your kitchen floor, and you use Swiffer Wet Jets. So, basically, you get a medal just for doing housework.  Yes. 🙂

WATER MARCO POLO

Spend at least 2 hours at the pool with at least two children without losing your sh!t. Not even when one child refuses to reapply sunscreen. Not even when you’ve heard “Mommy! Watch this!” for the 100th time.  Not even when one of your kids may be the reason for the unidentified turd floating in the shallow end. Keep it together and get your kids home before they meltdown, too, and you all get gold medals! Master this event and you are in prime position to enter BEACH BABY BLITZ: it is basically all of the above while keeping a baby from eating any sand while at the beach.

PUNCTUALITY RELAY

In this final game of the Mommy Olympics, you join forces with your best Mommy friends. The goal: you must all be on time to a play date, have a full-stocked diaper bag (No, “Damn, Becca, do you have a diaper Carter’s size?”), and be wearing makeup.  The mom with the fewest kids also has to pick up Starbucks to make it fair. No losers in this game, Moms. Even if you don’t medal, you still get a latte for just getting everyone out the door.

There you have it, Moms–just some of the games to look forward to when I organize the Mommy Olympics. Did I mention you are guaranteed a medal in any event by putting on clean yoga pants before it begins?  #momwin, amiright?!

I hope this gave you a laugh!  Let me know in the comments in which event you would bring home the gold and what other events I should add! I know there are many more real Mom moments worth honoring!