Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

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I am going to skip the commentary and get right to the recipe!  These are kid-approved, easy to make, and perfect for someone who meal preps as they can be made ahead and reheated with ease.  Plus, they are perfectly portioned and do not need any condiments!  My kids love these for dinner and they make a perfect school lunch as well!

Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

  • Servings: 6-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A quick and kid-friendly take on a childhood favorite!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 shredded zucchini (with the water dampened out with a paper towel)
  • 1/2 cup salsa of choice (I used Newman’s Own Mango Salsa and reserved the rest of the jar for Crockpot Salsa Chicken)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I make my own out of Ezekiel bread that I blitzed in my Nutribullet)
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped small
  • garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder (all to taste)
  • one egg

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with nonstick coconut oil spray.
  2. Combine all ingredients and divide evenly among 12-count muffin tin.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, though cooking time varies.  Monitor closely.
  4. Allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before attempting to remove from tin.  You can serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the fridge until you are ready to serve.

What do you think?  Let me know below!  This recipe is featured in my Clean Eating with Kids Week.  Want the full menu?  Submit your info below and I will email you the newsletter.

Thursday Thoughts: find an extra hour

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. ~Earl Nightingale

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True story. We are all given the same 24 hours in a day. We all have commitments and responsibilities and family that take up much of our time. I know this first hand! I am a mom of 3–5-years old, 3-years old, and 5 months old–I am a full time high school teacher, and I am an online healthy lifestyle coach. I am also a wife and a daughter and a sister and a friend and a neighbor, much like all of you.  I’ve written before about the fact that we each wear different hats. We each play various roles. We each juggle so much in a 24-hour period. On top of that, life has seasons. Sometimes one commitment out weighs all the others or one project requires more of you than it did a week ago. This doesn’t mean we don’t have balance.

I believe balance is achievable when we are aware of the constraints on our time, make our priorities clear, and go easy on ourselves. You can be balanced and spend less time with your kids today than you did yesterday because work required more of your time. You can be balanced and still have a load of laundry that you didn’t get to today. Balance is a state of mind, not a completed to-do list.

Here are my top 7 tips for feeling balanced, a feeling that I believe it relies on finding a hidden hour in your day.

  1. Prioritize your to-do list. This takes for granted that you actually have a to-do list. If you don’t, make that step 1a. I follow Chalene Johnson’s advice and spend a few minutes each morning and again each night having a brain dump: I make a to-do list for all of the elements of my life: family, school, coaching, household. I list everything, from buying birthday presents to following up with a prospect to grading a set of quizzes to filling out a permission slip for my daughter’s class trip. Everything I can think of! I then go into each category and star my top one or two to-dos and make these must dos. I strive each day to achieve these musts. If and when time allows, I’ll do more. If it doesn’t, I still feel a sense of peace–a sense of balance–because I met my priorities. We moms feel like we can do everything, but we can’t! These lists help us see that, and also lead to my second tip.
  2. Delegate responsibility. You are not Superwoman. And, here’s a little secret: you don’t have to be! Speak up and delegate. My mom always said men are not mind readers. Neither are kids. Don’t expect people in your life to help or to do what you believe they should do. Speak up and tell them. My kids help me meal prep and cook. I’ll tell my husband to pack school lunches while I clean up from dinner. No household chore should belong to just Mom anymore. On the flip side, I also help with the chores more often completed by the man of the house: yard work and taking out the trash and such. I am healthy and capable and know that if I have two minutes to bring the recycling to the curb, I’ve also given my husband two minutes to add to his found hour. Life is cyclical; you give what you get. And you will be surprised at just how much your kids enjoy doing chores when they seem fun. My kids would run around the house for an hour with a sweater sock on their hand dusting just because they think it is silly.  I also allow them to help me cut up fruit–bananas and berries–for lunches and smoothies and to portion all of our veggie and fruit snacks for the week.  These responsibilities give me some extra minutes and also make my kids more likely to get in the habits of cleaning and eating well.
  3. Wake up early! This is an unpopular one and the tip that receives the most push back.  Talk to most of the women in my coaching network, though, and you will find the shared value in this.  I love having a little quiet to myself in the morning.  I feel most well and calm and patient and, believe it or not, awake! when I wake up early, workout, and shower before my kids and husband stir from bed.  There is something about the solace in a dark-living room workout and the the sense of accomplishment that just make my day better.  I love running my fitness challenge groups because so many of the challengers also enjoy early-morning workouts.  Many of us are moms or teachers and hold one another accountable to this morning ritual. Yesterday, I overslept my alarm and felt more sluggish and tired as the day wore on.  I don’t workout early every day, though. Some mornings, like this one, I wake up early to make dinner to do laundry and just be me, in my own head and at my own pace.  Because I had our meatloaf muffins baked this morning, I was able to do my PiYo after school and still have dinner ready as soon as I picked up my kids. We even made it to the park for a dinner picnic and got water ice at Rita’s because I found the hidden hour this morning to make dinner.  Time with my kids trumps the extra half hour of sleep, at least to me.
  4. Meal plan and prep.  I have written extensively about these, and will continue to do so! I don’t know where this practice had been all my adult life.  Yes, Saturday evening I spend about a half hour meticulously planning our dinner menu and sketching out lunches, but I do so on the couch next to my husband while he reads James Patterson.  And on Sundays, I spend hours in the kitchen baking protein bars and prepping overnight oats and making various dinners, but my kids are involved and my husband preps his own lunches and I save so much time during the weeknights that I don’t regret it one bit!  Check out some of my other blog posts or join one of my monthly 5-day clean eating and meal prep groups to see how this practice can transform your life!
  5. Create a cleaning and laundry schedule.  Will someone hold me to this?  Yes, I do general straightening of the house every day multiple times a day (I repeat, I have 3 kids 5 and under. And two dogs!), but I do not clean from top to bottom every day.  I would never speak to my husband or read a story to my kids if I did!  Instead, I’ve created a cleaning schedule with particular deep cleaning or laundry that is done on a particular day of the week. I should publish this somewhere, though, for a little more accountability.  Of all my tips, I find this one the most difficult to stick to.  Maybe now that I have shared it with all of you I will make it happen!
  6. The up&down rule.  This is good for anyone in a multi-story home.  If I have to go upstairs for any reason, I bring something with me that must go upstairs: my daughter’s hairbrush that is some how on the kitchen table, my son’s blanket for bedtime, the clean laundry.  I also make it my mission to bring something down when I return, like the bathroom garbage that can get tossed or a basket of dirty clothes.  My multitasking my household travels, I eliminate time wasted later on.  No, my house is not spotless and tidy.  Far from it.  But I am working on this and tip #5 as ways of getting closer to that.
  7. Break your rigid rules once in a while! Go easy on yourself. Sleep in when your body needs to. Skip today’s scheduled load of laundry because your kids ask to go for an extra walk around the neighborhood.  Read the extra story at bedtime knowing lunches have been prepped since Sunday anyway.  Live a little and embrace that flexibility.  Those stolen moments are the ones we really want to find, anyway! You do this, and you will have balance–even if your house is a little untidy and the laundry basket is a little fuller than you originally intended.

I’d love to share more!  Leave your email below and subscribe to stay up to date on my tips and recipes. And if a fitness challenge group or clean eating group sounds like something you may be interested in, let me know as well.  No obligations! 🙂

Almond Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Clean Protein Bars

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Obviously, my goal was to come up with the longest name possible for these bars. Mission accomplished!

But I digress. These are delicious. These are easy. These are loved by my entire family. Yep, husband, kid, toddler, and my mom all approved. These are chewy and filling and full of protein. Plus, I know every ingredient since, well, I made them.

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I’ve recently discovered–and become obsessed with–Luna bars. As a woman attempting to blend eating clean and following the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan and nursing/pumping for a five month old, I’ve had to find ways to consume healthy fats and complex carbs throughout my day. Enter the Luna bar and various nuts and seeds and avocado in my ShakeO, salads, and overnight oats. I keep one or two Luna bars in my bag at all times, though, so if hunger strikes and I’ve gone through all my snacks, I know I have something healthy and full of real food to nosh on. Two flavors are my faves: chocolate covered almond and chocolate chip cookie dough. Delicious, dessert-like, and perfect for my macros and hunger pangs.

This weekend, I began prepping for an upcoming clean eating group, Clean Eating with Kids. I have almost 40 participants already and want to make sure this 5-day push is helpful, healthful, and happy for all involved. My goal for the group is to educate moms–stay-at-home, working, single, etc–in the ease of clean eating and in the basic ins and outs of an 80/20 lifestyle. I will share a clean menu for all meals of the day, I will provide meal planning and prep tips and strategies, and I will provide motivation and accountability for the participants who wish to “cook along.” Most importantly, though, I want to free these moms, to help them gain more confidence in letting their kids get involved in the choices and cooling that take place in the kitchen. My experience is that the more my kids are involved in creating meals or snacks, the more likely they are to eat these foods. I was going over some of my menu ideas for the clean eating group with my 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son and told them I was considering making our own protein bars. “Yes!” Kayden exclaimed. “Let’s do that now!” So, with no forethought and no new ingredients, we set out to plan our own recipe. The kids checked the cupboards and I read through a few recipes I’ve pinned for granola bars and protein bars and energy bites and, with my two Luna fave flavors in mind, this is what we came up with!

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Our recipe can be gluten free, but we did use peanut butter. You can easily substitute another nut butter if there is a peanut allergy. You can even leave out the almonds and/or add in something else–like shakes coconut or dried cranberries or chopped walnuts or whatever!

Almond Chocolate Cookie Dough Protein Bars

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Filling and yummy and gluten free if needed!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats, roasted (certified gluten free if you need)
  • 1 cup all-natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup all-natural apple sauce
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Shakeology)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (I used Shakeology)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life dairy, soy, and gluten free morsels and chopped them roughly)
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds (I also chopped these roughly)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick coconut oil spray and sprinkle the oats on top. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes. (This brings out the flavor and texture of the oats!).
  2. Let the oats cool, then combine all the ingredients, folding in the chocolate chips and almonds last. Your dough may become thick. We mixed a little by hand.
  3. Regrease your cookie sheet and shape the dough about 1/4 inch thick. It may not fill the whole sheet. A half sheet may work perfectly!
  4. Bake for 22-25 minutes. Allow to cool for 3 or so minutes before cutting into bars.
  5. Store in an air-tight container. Enjoy within 5 days.

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Let me me know how they turn out. If you tweak the recipe at all, I’d love to hear that as well!

Want to try Shakeology to make this recipe? You can purchase it here or fill in the “contact me” below and I can send you a sample! 🙂





 

A Letter to my Middle Child

My Dearest Paxton:

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I grew up in a “rich man’s family,” as it’s called: one daughter and one son. I am older than my brother, Uncle Patchy, by four years and enjoyed the privileges of being the first born and of being female. I set the tone for teachers’ expectations of Wrede family kids. I could play Mommy to my brother and get away with–if only in my mind–telling him what to do or telling on him to Nanny and Poppop. I set the play date schedule and extracurricular/athletic activity interests of the family. I felt great power. Uncle Patchy also felt his own sense of power. He could play the “little brother card” and tell Nanny and Poppop I was picking on him. He could often experience freedoms–later curfews or less questioning of his whereabouts–because I had already negotiated our parents through it all. In my opinion, he could get away with a lot more because he was the “baby.” Plus, he had his four years of high school with his sister away at college and was able to take all the attention he wanted. We each felt the benefits of our genealogy.

You, my blonde and silly and wise and emotional middle man, don’t get those automatic rights of passage. Kayden is the oldest, the boss, and the only girl. She will leave the first impression on teachers and micromanage your play and get the first choice for many things. Kellen is the baby, the coddled one, the one who will probably experience few rules and restraints. You are supposed to be the proverbial Middle Child: the neglected one, the mischievous one, the bad egg.

I am here to tell you that you are not. You are our light, our core.

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When you grow up, you may or may not remember the summer Mommy was pregnant with Kellen. You may or may not recall the stress of his CCAM diagnosis and the weight of his surgery. I know I’ll remember it all. What I will truly reflect on, though, even years from now, is how you guided me through the emotions and baggage and worry without even realizing it. At 2 1/2 years old, your intuition took over. You frequently walked over and took my hand as I stood at the sink, mulling over the doctor’s latest information. You cuddled up to me on the couch, silently and still fixated on an episode of Odd Squad, when you heard my breathing get heavy or noticed a tissue in my hand. You made me laugh with a silly facial expression or a knock knock joke of your own creation (Knock knock. Who’s there? Joseph. Joseph who? I love cereal!) when I would get lost in my own thoughts again. You made me present, brought me back to reality.

You smiled. Always. Every day. Without reservation. That smile mended the broken heart I was fighting against. You saved me. Throughout that entire process, I could count on you to keep me afloat. That is a hefty burden to put on a toddler, so know it was not something I expected of you nor demanded of you. But you gave selflessly–whether consciously or subconsciously.

Your sister is remarkable. She is brilliant and capable and athletic and beautiful and I love her more than words. But she spent this summer out of her normal school routine. Take Sissy out of her routine and you create a powder keg. Kayden needs time and space to be creative, but she needs to know that time and space exists in a predictable, scheduled way. A summer of countless doctor’s appointments and play dates and shore trips and a Disney vacation and pool visits and you name it left her feeling overwhelmed and unsure of when her next opportunity to play school would come. This overwhelmed her and drained me. We–maybe it is the cliche emotional makeup of females–felt stress in the summer’s randomness and the unknown. You embraced it.

You live optimistically. You love life’s variety. Yes, you have tantrums and breakdowns. You are a preschooler; those are unavoidable. Your sadness arises from some physiological need not being met: you are hungry, you are tired, you are hurt, either physically or emotionally. You feel and take offense, but you care and give. You are the most genuine soul I’ve ever known. Daddy and I may joke to you that you wear your heart on your sleeve, but be assured that is a trait you possess that we will never truly take lightly nor will we take it for granted. We understand that this capacity to feel will make life heavy at times, and we will be here to guide you or hold your hand or smile in your direction.

We also know this means, conversely, that you will celebrate every small win and every tiny joy. I made you a frozen English muffin for breakfast the other morning when we were rushing out the door and you told me I was the best mommy ever. Whenever Daddy makes your favorite shrimp for dinner, you remind him after every bite that it is “mmm, MMM! Delicious!”. You often ask your babysitter for an extra snack to bring home to Kayden when she is at school and you thank her with real, grateful hugs when she relents. You cheerfully yell the name of anyone who comes to visit and praise the dogs when they come in from doing their business. If you feel it, we know it–the good and the bad. And when we feel it, and you sense it and act in a way that makes our feelings valid and supported. Kayden is intuitive, too, in that she thinks situations through and has this endless desire to know all aspects of a situation, even aspects beyond her years. You have an endless capacity to feel alongside a person, to climb into another’s heart. I cannot wait to see how this ability of yours evolves as you mature and grow and engage with more and more of life’s “stuff,” and though I know this will be difficult to navigate at times, I pray you remain genuine through it all. Never be too proud of your emotions, happy or sad. Feel them. Live by example. Don’t worry about the world’s definition of being tough or being a man or being soft. You are all of the above at once. How special is that?

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This past Sunday night, the only beings who slept for more than a handful of hours uninterrupted were our two dogs. Your baby brother had a bad cold and a fever from teething and was up nearly every hour. Your sister had a cough and a tummy ache and the nerves of her first standardized test (in kindergarten! More of my feelings on this at another time!) keeping her awake from 12-2 am. Daddy and I were up and about for hours changing sheets from baby spit up and Kayden’s night sweats and calming nerves and cries when, at some point in the melee, we heard you walking around your room. When I peeked in and found you reaching for a shirt in your closet, I asked what you were up to. “I’m getting dressed,” you stated with the matter-of-factness of a man 20 times your age. “You know, for school. Sissy’s not in here so it must be morning.” Bless your heart. Bless your “let me be of little nuisance” mentality. Bless your intuition that taking care of yourself in that moment–even though it was hours before you needed to and something we would never ask of a now 3 year old–would just help. Daddy got you back to bed and I snuck in an kissed you after Kellen finally settled and you know what we both said as we closed your door, 45 minutes apart? Thank you.

That very same morning, but when we actually needed to be awake and getting ready for school, I skipped my morning workout, hit snooze nearly a dozen times, and took a groggy, rushed shower at the latest possible time. When I turned off the water, I was startled into a smile, surprised to hear you singing in your room. You had been awake during the night shift with the rest of us and sleep is so very essential to you. Yet here you were, sitting on your bed singing, “it’s morning! Good morning! It’s morning!” in a tune I didn’t recognize and in a voice so full of vigor and sweetness.image You did it again: turned my mood in a way only you can.

When the dust of the morning settled and everyone had shoveled down some sort of breakfast and was dressed and combed and jacketed to get the heck out to school, Daddy scruffed your fluffy blonde hair and said, “Bud, you get us through.” You really do.

You are not the middle child. You are the center, the heartbeat. You are the rock that grounds us all. Don’t ever forget that. I know I won’t.

Friday Favorites: Protein Shakes!

About two years ago, I became a vegetarian.  I was diagnosed with IgA nephropathy by a nephrologist who said point blank she did not have the experience to care for me and for my illness.  She said that she had not treated anyone my age with this kidney disease.  “People live their lives with this associating it with other ailments.  We usually diagnose IgA when someone is in kidney failure.”

Kidney failure.  I left her office repeating those two words and completely set on keeping my body functioning so that I could avoid a future of dialysis and doctors. I began to do some research.  First off, I wanted to find a reputable nephrologist more suited to my situation.  Secondly, I needed to find ways that I could manage this autoimmune disease as naturally as possible.  It took me months before I found a doctor I could trust, but only a few weeks before I came to a quick conclusion: cut out all animal protein. I did not research enough, though, and spent a year and a half making nonstop green smoothies and feeling tired, thin, and bloated.

Once I landed my new nephrologist and became pregnant with Kellen, I realized that this lifestyle did not fit me or my body.  Yes, I experienced fewer episodes of IgA, but I didn’t feel all that well on the day-to-day.  I experienced migraines and IBS, issues I’ve had my whole life, but in more severe ways than I had before.  I also felt especially weak within the first trimester of my pregnancy.  Suddenly, I wanted a hamburger.  I craved chicken. I salivated over steak.  I talked to my doctor and together we decided that vegetarianism or even pescaterianism wasn’t working for me.  Once I began eating more protein, my body felt stronger and more functional, my headaches and IBS episodes subsided, and I felt less tired–well, as “less tired” as a pregnant mom of a 4 year old and 2 year old can feel in the heat of the summer.

Adding protein back into my diet, at first, only meant the following: eating meat or poultry at dinner.  I was still eating boxed cereal or Dunkin Donuts muffins for breakfast, peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch, and countless carbs, fruits, and Craisins for snacks. So yes, I felt better, but I still didn’t feel well–I just didn’t quite realize.  Towards the end of December, over a month after Kellen was born and a few weeks before I embarked on my first fitness bootcamp, I gave a morning shake with protein powder a try and, slowly but surely, I noticed a change.  The most immediate change was that by having including protein in my breakfast, I felt fuller longer and snacked less.  This definitely assisted in my post-baby weight loss, but that is a small win.  The big win is that this began to change my habits.  I started researching the importance of protein and the importance of clean eating and these two actions have led to months of health, energy, and fitness.

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Enjoying a protein shake daily can benefit you, like it has benefited me while helping me reach my macronutrient goals each day.  I was hesitant at first.  I’m sure you are as well. I was not easily sold on the cost or on the ingredients, but I did my research and spoke to so many customers that I finally gave Shakeology a try.  Shakeology is loaded with dense nutrition and super foods and contains so many vitamins and minerals, it replaces my multivitamin. I feel energized from the first sip and feel full for hours.  I am nursing, so I do not use this as a meal replacement, though many people do and with great results.  Instead, I drink my shake as one of two breakfasts or as a post-workout boost.  What do I mean?  I typically wake up at 4:45, do my workout for the day, and then get the family ready for school.  I make my shake then and sip it as I drive to the school where I teach.  When I have my prep period later that morning, I’ll enjoy some overnight oats, but I am not nearly as ravenous for that as I was prior to drinking my shakes. When I workout after school or in the evening, I usually have my ShakeO immediately after.

I want to share with you my top 10 favorite protein shake recipes.  Feel free to give them a try and to make whatever tweaks are necessary for your dietary concerns or needs.  I do use unsweetened almond milk in every shake, but you can easily sub-out the milk of your choice, water, or even coconut water. I also blend mine in my Nutibullet for about 45-60 seconds each.  You can use a blender, a Vitamix, whatever!  Adjust the consistency with as much or as little ice as you’d like.  The more ice, the thicker your shake will be.  You can also make these at home and enjoy at lunch at work and expect it to remain delicious.  I’ve done this many times!

Try a few and let me know your experiences. 🙂  Leave your favorite recipe in the comments.

  1. The Go-To: This is my classic recipe.  I would drink this every day if I could, but sometimes I am down an ingredient or just force myself to try something else.
  • 1 scope Cafe Latte Shakeology
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-natural peanut or almond butter (or hazelnut chocolate spread when I’m feeling so inclined!)
  • 5 ice cubes

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2. The Girl Scout: I recently discovered this one while scrolling through some old Shakeology posts. Oh my heavens.  This is a Thin Mint in liquid form.  You will LOVE this one. I promise.

  • 1 scoop chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 banana, frozen and slightly thawed
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ⅛ tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 5 ice cubes

3. The Healthy Mickey D’s: This one is very similar to the Girl Scout, and just as tasty.  This ruled my March.  It is bshamrockasically a McDonald’s Shamrock shake without the guilt, with lots of super foods, and with a green color that does not come from food coloring.

  • 1 scoop vanilla Shakeology
  • 1 banana, frozen and slightly thawed
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ⅛ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 5 ice cubes
  • ¼ avocado (optional)

4. The Beach Babe: I do not have a taste for alcohol (though I love red wine, Blue Moon, and Corona!), but this shake tastes like it could have rum in it and all would be okay with the world!

  • 1 scoop tropical strawberry vegan Shakeology
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • ½ banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 5 ice cubes
  • ⅛ tsp coconut extract (optional–or use coconut water instead!)

5. The Healthy Starbucks: I am a basic PSL girl.  It’s true.  I love brown boots and sweaters and sipping on my Starbucks with my aviators on.  This is a worthy replacement–for equal cost, fewer calories, and countless health benefits.

  • 1 scoop Cafe Latte Shakeology
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup all-natural pumpkin puree
  • ½ banana
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp all-natural maple syrup
  • ¼ cup raw pecans
  • 5 ice cubes

6. The Swirl: This was inspired by my girl Autumn Calabrese.  If she drinks it, yeah, I’ll drink it.

  • ½ scoop vanilla Shakeology
  • ½ scoop chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ banana
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 5 ice cubes

7. The PB&J: This can be made many different ways, or even with vanilla powder and fresh/frozen berries.  Here is my favorite way:

  • 1 scoop strawberry Shakeology
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural peanut butter
  • 5 ice cubes

8. The Chocolate-Covered Strawberry: This was Valentine’s Day inspired and has made it’s way into my regular rotation ever since. choc straw

  • 1 scoop vegan chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries (for a milkshake feel, fresh berries work, too!)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-natural chocolate hazelnut spread (It was Valentine’s Day! This is optional.)
  • 5 ice cubes

9. The Blueberry Frap: This seems like an odd one, but it is delicious.  To be real for a minute, though, do check yourself in the mirror after drinking this one.  I find blueberries in my shakes mean blueberries in my teeth!

  • 1 scoop Cafe Latte Shakeology
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 ice cubes

10. The Birthday Cake: I already said I am a basic girl.  That means I am required to like birthday cake flavored things as well–not just pumpkin spice. 😉  This one is a treat.  Enjoy it on your birthday or on the birthday of someone you know, which might mean rather frequently!

  • 1 scoop vanilla Shakeology
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sugar-free pudding mix (flavor of your choice)
  • 5 ice cubes
  • Blend, then top with a dash of sprinkles. Why not?

If you are interested in Shakeology, there are many flavors–as you can tell by the recipes–and many options for making your shake your own.  Shakeology comes in one-month supplies of either 30 scoops in a bag or 24-packets in a box, and you can mix and match flavors.  If you aren’t sure which flavor works for you, you can try the 7-day sample pack: one of each flavor for $35, plus tax and shipping.  Follow the links for your healthiest, most yummiest meals of the day!  Or, fill in the contact form below with any of your questions, and I will respond in no time with more insights.





Carrot “Cake” Oat Muffins

I have always been a breakfast person.  My son, Paxton, has inherited this love.  He must eat within the first half hour of waking–even quicker than that if he had his way–or he goes from sweet to sour faster than you can say “overnight oats.” I’ve always been one to eat when I wake up or to at least have something quick as I head off to school, both as a student and as a teacher.  My lack of understanding of true nutritional value combined with my own hectic, early morning routine left me picking at not-so-healthy breakfasts.  I used to live off of cereal or Pop Tarts.  In the last few years, I became more aware of my sugary morning selections and opted for green smoothies.

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This switch to a healthier, green-filled breakfast didn’t completely abolish my frequent stops to the coffee chain on the corner for a latte and a muffin.  At least I wasn’t getting a donut, right?  Wrong!  Check out the nutritional information for the donuts and muffins at the coffee shop “America runs on” and you may be surprised to learn that one muffin has 100-200 more calories than the average donut.  That same muffin has 20% of a person’s suggested daily fat intake and 25% of a person’s suggested daily carb intake.  For one muffin. One.  I should have been getting the donuts!

But honestly, my tastes have evolved as my understanding on a body’s need for macronutrients continues to develop.  I am no expert, but I am learning.  I now know how vital protein is, especially in the morning, in order for my body to perform most effectively each day.  I now know that I cannot cut fat from my diet, but that I can focus on healthy fats for optimal fat burning and muscle development.  I now know that my mind was the roadblock to my enjoyment of and dedication to making healthy meals–not my tastebuds nor my busy schedule.

IMG_8088I also now know that I am obsessed with rolled oats.  Check out past recipes or any of my videos on my Facebook page, and you will see this love affair in action.  But rolled oats are more than just an ingredient for clean oatmeal.  I have made overnight oats, chicken meatballs, turkey meatloaf, protein cookies, and energy balls with this power ingredient–and that is just a sampling.  I have also been able to tap into my muffin habit of yore and create healthy, protein-and-healthy-fat-packed muffins full of delicious ingredients that fit into my clean lifestyle and family’s various morning needs.

I found two recipes that I absolutely love: apple pie oat muffins and banana zucchini oatmeal cups.  I’ve made these each multiple times and have shared them with friends and family–all of whom enjoyed them–so I decided to give my own recipe a whirl.  I was inspired by Easter and all of the leftover carrots floating around my kitchen and, with a bit of tweaking from these two recipes and my own understanding of what makes carrot cake yummy, I came up with the following.  Vary it however you’d like for the perfect healthy morning muffin.

Carrot 'Cake' Oat Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed + 6 tbsp water (to create flax eggs)
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup all-natural almond butter or peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or raw honeyIMG_8090
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (certified gluten free if necessary)
  • 1/3 cup raisins (halve these if you want more raisin-per-bite ratio)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (option
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes, crushed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. I used coconut oil.
  2. Combine flax seeds and water.  Let gel. (Or, use one whole egg or two egg whites).
  3. Mash three bananas with a fork and combine with carrot, almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add all dry ingredients, except for raisins, pecans, and coconut.  Stir to combine. Then, fold in final three ingredients, or any combination of them.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then loosen with a knife, and enjoy!  Store any leftovers in the fridge or freeze for later!

These are simple, wholesome, and clean.  Let me know below if you give these a try and if you mixed up the ingredients in any way. I’d love to hear of your results.IMG_8092

 





Friday Faves: Me Time

I’ve blogged before about the many hats I wear. I do not say this to seem remarkable; I say this to prove that we are all that way. At any given moment of any given day we may be mom, employee, wife, sister, car pooler, team mom, friend, neighbor, coach, daughter, boss, chef, maid, etc. We switch from being needed to needing, from being in charge to following orders, from being free to being structured. This causes chaos in our minds, our bodies, and, often, for our families. I must remember that of all the identities I juggle on any given day, I am always me. Scheduling or “indulging” in “me time,” as most call it, is beyond necessary for our own well-being.

I haven’t been as consistent with Friday Favorites since I started back at work, but I decided this week I am not compromising on it. I am writing this week. Which gave me the idea to write about why I love to write: it is my perfect me time. I am an awe of words and sentences (just ask my students) and often marvel at how they link together and create imagery and worlds and beliefs and arguments and beauty.  I teach my students that they should write like readers and read like writers. I strive to do that, too. When I sit down to write a blog–whether it is planned out ahead of time or rather in-the-moment–I feel a true release of energy and a surge or calm all at the same time. I adore toying with word placement and sentencing, with exploring how I write something rather than what I write. This is when I am most centered, most grounded. This is my favorite me time of all. I encourage you to try it. Get a journal or start a blog or post of Facebook once a day. Even one sentence well-considered is therapeutic for me.

What else do I love to do when it’s just me? Keep reading to find out. You won’t find any earth-shattering on this list, but perhaps you’ll remember what it is you love that helps you find your center. Strive to spend even just 10 minutes each day on “you time” so that your other hats can fit a bit better.

2. Reading: I don’t read enough. I know I’ve previously shared my favorite novels, but that list is deceiving. It takes me quite a while to finish a novel. For one, I am always rereading a text or two for school–not to mention the student writing I read. I really need to make an effort to fit in reading for pleasure. I cannot do so right before bed, though, or I’ll be asleep within 5 minutes. When I do make the time, however–when Mike is watching college hoops or when I have just 15 minutes of hall duty left after grading quizzes–I love it. I escape into another place and embrace the journey.  I marvel at the author’s craft and daydream my own endings.  I let myself be in a moment that belongs to just me.
3. Running/working out: I’ve written before about starting each most mornings with a sun salutation.  It is amazing what those few minutes of yoga and meditation can do for my psyche. But I need to really sweat, to really workout, to feel true to myself.

I’ve grown to love running.  It is freeing to run outdoors, in the fresh air, and to push my pace.  I am not fast but I love challenging myself.  Reach the stop sign before the song ends.  Sprint for 30 seconds every time the song changes.  These mind games fuel my competitive side while quenching my need for health and fitness.  I get grumpy when I don’t get a run in over a long period of time.  Even if I am in the midst of an at-home program or challenge group, I get especially antsy if I haven’t been able to run.  I am still regaining my miles from my pregnancy.  I know it takes time.  The runs I’v been able to tackle, though, inspired me to get back into distance running.  My husband, sister-in-laws, and I plan to run a half marathon in November.  Now it is time for serious mind games.

I also adore working out in my living room, sometimes bright and early and alone, and sometimes with a kid or two or three at my feet.  TurboFire is my go-to.  Chalene Johnson is my best friend in my head.  The mix of HIIT and Fire workouts allow me to do the perfect program in the amount of time I have available.  I’ve had this program for 5 years and is still my favorite. I am in the midst of 21 Day Fix Extreme right now

4. Shopping. At Target. Alone.: Moms, need I say more? Especially if there is a Starbucks. It is like a mini vacation. I would worry the employees all in red look at me strangely for meandering around their aisles for a full hour, but I know I am not the only one. I’ve got my leggings on, I’ve got a list I’ll exceed by at least 7 items, and I’ve got the perfect Pandora station playing from my iPhone. I am home. Until I’m really home with three bags full of dollar-bin items for holidays weeks away that I’ll either A. give to the kids in a matter of days, or B. forget I have entirely until the holiday has passed.

I can also get pretty zen traipsing up and down the narrow aisles of Whole Foods or the wide halls of the mall. Again, my earbuds are in and I’m focused.  I’m trying to send the message that my time is for me only.  No, I do not want to smell your perfume.  No, I am not interested in your miracle hand cream. No, if I wanted a new tub I’d go to Home Depot, not the food court foyer. No, I’d rather not have my eyebrows threaded in front of all these people. If I wanted to be having a conversation with someone, I would have brought my kids along. This is all about me.

5. Cooking: This is a new one for me.  I’ve always been fascinated by recipes, but found most yummy ones intimidated.  I’ve had my standbys, though.  If I was cooking for a crowd or for a holiday, I’d make stuffed shells.  If I was a guest at a party, I’d make my fruit salsa.  If I was cooking on a weekend morning, I’d make pancakes.  Mike and I have differing tastes, so I tended to stick with tried-and-true recipes on weeknights, like my pork chops or chicken ala yummy.  Plus, he often works late, so I lived by the mantra “the easier the better,” which left to countless nights of take-out or boil-out-of-the-box pasta with sauce out-of-the-jar.  My husband never complained, but he rarely praised my cooking.

Now, he does. He often expresses how much he enjoys our new recipes, and I am truly in love with cooking them. We’ve both become increasingly adventurous as we’ve began to understand the importance of clean eating and balancing our macronutrients.  As a result, I’ve curated an extensive library of clean recipes from the vast corners of the internet and am venturing more and more into creating my own.  The most beautiful side of clean cooking and eating is that our meals rely on the natural flavors of in-season foods; you almost can’t go wrong.

I also love getting the kids involved–even though this is listed under “me time”.  This adds many minutes to the suggested “prep time” of any recipe,  but the memories and healthy habits this creates are priceless.  My son especially loves to bake with me; he is always on hand when I make muffins or cookies. Kayden, though she loves to watch baking shows on YouTube, prefers to cook or meal prep.  She loves to sort our fresh snacks or to portion out the ingredients for a meal.  I hope to get them more and more involved as they get older.

6. Watching my shows: I feel like one of my grandmothers when I type that, “my shows.” Each of my grandmas had their shows (or her “stories,” as Nanny Agnes called them), and by shows they meant soap operas.  I am not a day-time TV kinda gal, but I do fall hard for one or two shows at a time that I need in my life.  Big time. I will curl up on the couch alone with a cup of tea or a handful (ok, a bag) of Craisins or a huge spponful of peanut butter and just watch.  I don’t binge.  I absorb.  I immerse myself in these characters.  I memorize their lines.  I cry with them and laugh with them and love with them.

I’ve had many shows over the years–Big Love, Swingtown (gone far too soon!), Smash–and am currently hooked on Younger, The Americans, and Nashville. My husband and I watch The Americans together, which makes me feel less guilty that I am currently in long-term relationships with 3 shows, but I couldn’t pick just one.  I am obsessed with them.

Something to realize is that “me time” doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Many times, when I pencil in time to recharge and get back to me, it involves my favorite people.
7. Talking to my mom on the phone: I do this daily. We usually chat blue tooth-style on my short drive to work in the morning and at least once again in the afternoon.  These phone conversations are part routine, part catharsis, completely “me time” qualified because it is like having a conversation with myself.
8. Girls nights: Every person needs a time to recharge his or her batteries.  I refuel once every month or two with a girls night. This usually means a dinner out with some wine and good conversation, it sometimes means a Pampered Chef or 31 party, and it can even mean a meet-up for lunch (a girls day!) at one of our houses.  These social gatherings with one or more girlfriends renews my sense of self and rekindles my ability to be Mom. These get-togethers are good for my soul and good for my family.
9. One-on-one time with each child: I don’t get to do this enough, but that is the lot we chose by having three kids 5 and under.  Someone is always demanding my attention.  When I can devote time for an activity each child loves, though, we reconnect and I feel less mommy-guilt.  Anything that reduces mommy-guilt has to be “me time.”

With Kayden, I play school.  If she had her way, we would play every waking minute of the day. What she doesn’t understand is that I play school every day as a high school English teacher.  Continuing that momentum and those activities when I just want to be Mom feels daunting and draining and droll. I can often swindle my way into being “Miss Pam,” who is conveniently a like-named women who works in the school’s office.  This way I can continue to make dinner or work on paperwork or fold laundry and it is as if I’m completing my secretarial duties. Other times, I can take the role of “Miss Julie,” the college-aged helper who assists all classes in the afternoon.  When I am Miss Julie, I can spend 10 minutes with Kayden in full kindergarten aide mode–cutting circles and folding paper and sorting books–and then assist the other classes for a stretch of time, aka spend time with my other two children.  But some days, she wants me to just be her teacher or just be her student and when I do, when it is just us, I can’t help but be in awe of her imagination and attention to detail and eerie reincarnation of my entire childhood.  This is “me time” for both of us.  I must allow myself to enjoy it fully more often.

Paxton likes waking up early and cuddles and Odd Squad and doing puzzles.  We often spend our one-on-one time while everyone else is still sleeping.  He is naturally an early riser and an immediate eater, so we will head down for breakfast and put on a favorite show and relax on the couch for a few minutes before the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day and family take over.  These few minutes of contact are usually all he needs.  If he wakes up and I am already getting ready for school or doing my workout, he accompanies me throughout the entire process.  He just needs to know I’m there and needs me to know he’s there.  Lately, he’ll do a puzzle on the floor while I get my things together for the day, or he’ll sit beside me as I check in with my challenge groups early in the morning.  He’s my shadow most of the morning and though it can stress me out when we are in a time crunch or when I’m tripping over him at every turn, I have to embrace these moments when Mommy is his number one girl.

Kellen’s an easy sell: give him a few minutes to nurse and he is golden.  I am especially in love with nursing this time, most likely since we plan on Kellen being the final Bus Baby.  I can tell he is beginning to teeth and is a bit antsy, but I am going to ride out this wave with him as long as he’ll have it.  Stay tuned for his big boy mommy-and-me time. 😉
10. TV with my husband: I’ve already told you about my shows.  Well, Mike and I have our shows as well. We love the entire Chicago series: Fire, PD, and Med. We’ll watch Shark Tank and The Big Bang Theory.  We’ve seen every season of Homeland and 24.  And last year we finally got on the Breaking Bad bandwagon and never looked back.  We’ll sit together with cups of coffee or tea or a glass of wine and just watch.  This is the time when we mentally unwind, often fall asleep, and do very little talking, but we love it. We compare notes on predictions or quiz each other on a new character’s identity from a different show or film (well, maybe I just quiz him and then immediately look up said actor/actress on IMDB), but it is this routine that I find most comforting.  This isn’t boring marriage stuff.  This is practiced marriage stuff.  This is “life is so chaotic and our world is often so loud that this televised escape is needed” stuff. Plus, Mike knows I’ll make up all the not-talking with plenty of chattiness the second his head hits his pillow.

How do you sustain you? Tell me in the comments!  And leave your info below!  I’d love to know who’s reading, and I promise–no spam. Just Pam. 🙂





“Cheat” Chinese Chicken Fried Rice

I am going to keep the anecdotes to a minimum tonight.  First off, I am blogging rather late at night, but for a few good reasons: it is Tasty Tuesday and I have yet to post; it has been a week since my last post (hello, crazy working mom mode!); I have had this recipe requested for quite some time.  Second reason to make this quick: you will want this recipe immediately.  At least, you would if you could smell the garlicky aroma wafting through my house still–two hours after we ate. Yum!  But then again, this isn’t a blog post by me if it lacks a little backstory.

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My husband loves fried rice.  In fact, he would eat hibachi almost every night.  His entire family–and I mean his mom and her seven siblings and all of their spouses and kids (and now grandkids!)–go to a hibachi restaurant every Easter.  I have always dreaded it.  I do not enjoy the oily smell that lingers on my clothes, in my hair, and on my handbag.  I seem to be the only one getting the downdraft of the giant exhaust fan–no matter where I sit.  I despise eggs, so seeing them cracked and topping all the other food on the grill just gives me the heebie jeebies. But it is always one of Mike’s favorite days with his favorite people and his favorite food.

A few years ago, Mike got the idea to try to make his own fried rice.  He’s played around with the recipe–and has even left out the eggs for my benefit–and has come up with a combo of flavors that we find ideal.  This “cheat” Chinese meal is mainly clean and mainly healthy, but it definitely not on the menu every week as it packs more of a caloric and sodium punch than we want on the reg.  It sure beats the fat and salt content of true takeout, though, so I still count it as a dinner win.

You can easily adapt this by trading out the veggies for those to your liking.  We stick to carrots and zucchini mainly because we love them, our kids love them, and we always have them on hand.  You could also trade out the chicken for steak, shrimp, pork, whatever!  It is quite versatile.  You could even add the egg if you are so inclined.  I disagree wholeheartedly, but I know my husband would gladly come make this for you and dine with you if you allowed the egg addition. 🙂

Mike preps everything in its own pot/pan, then combines everything in our large saute pan. This meal requires a lot of space and a lot of dish-washing, but to mimic the hibachi experience, you have to go there.

The portions below perfectly feed me, my husband, and my two young kids without leftovers.  We often double this if we make it on Sunday night so Mike has lunches for a few days.  Plus, our five-year old daughter always wants seconds and thirds.  This is her favorite meal.

Extra tip: I recommend chopping the veggies with a hand-chopper (I use one by Pampered Chef) to dice them to the perfect size.

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INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups brown rice, cooked (You could use white if you prefer!)
  • 1 chicken breast, diced into tiny pieces (as small as you’d like)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped small
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped small
  • 1 tsp butter (The one and only time we use it anymore!)
  • Himalayan sea salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, to taste
  • Sesame seeds, to taste
  • low-sodium soy sauce
  1. Prepare the rice according to package directions.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and saute, moving it frequently, for approximately 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit as you prep the veggies and finish the rice.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Heat garlic for 30 seconds.  Add the carrots and zucchini and stir for approx. 1-2 minutes, or until softened.
  4. Add the rice, then the pre-cooked chicken, and combine.
  5. Lower the heat.  Add the butter, salt, pepper, sesame seeds, and soy sauce (to taste!), and then toss all ingredients together.

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This may require many pieces of cookware, but it is still quick and delicious!  Very worth the try!  I look forward to hearing how you modify this, or how tour taste buds enjoy my husband’s creation as-is!

Clean Steak & Chicken Fajitas

Want to know the worst part of my family’s new love of clean eating? Doing so many dishes and running the dishwasher daily. But do you want to know the best part? I always have fresh ingredients on hand that I can easily throw together to create a healthful, flavorful meal on a whim. This benefit far outweighs the number of minutes spent at my sink or unloading the dishwasher.

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This can save you in a pinch when your meal prep or meal plan has failed you. We are humans–many of whom are raising mini humans–and life happens! Don’t let life cause you to stop at a fast food joint when in almost as much time as the drive-thru would take you can get creative and make something yummy and clean in your own kitchen.

This pinch-hitting dinner came into play a few weeks ago. I had planned on making stuffed peppers Monday night, but ended up using the ground turkey I had on hand for a potluck recipe the day before instead.  I swore this dish would create enough leftovers for dinner but, alas, it was just too good.  Clean recipes tend to be that way. I was left, then, with a series of peppers and onion and no dinner plan on the first day I returned to work post-maternity leave.

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I pass Pancheros–a delicious Chipotle-style fast food joint–every day as I drive home with the “big kids” from their school. I so wanted to pull in the parking lot and get something, but I didn’t for a few reasons: 1. How much of a pain is that with two kids and a newborn? 2. We are striving to eat clean and save money! 3.I had some awesome ingredients awaiting me and my new-found kitchen creativity awaiting me in my own kitchen! I decided then to head home and figure out how to make fajitas–something I have never made before nor ever really desired to eat before.

I’ve noticed, though, that the more cleanly my family and I eat–meaning, the more whole, real foods I cook with and snack on–the more adventurous I am becoming in the kitchen.  My palate is definitely expanding.  I now crave flavors I didn’t know existed: fresh citrus squeezed onto a bed of greens, cayenne pepper tossed into a homemade soup, the differing tastes of various onion varieties.  Beyond that, I am more confident playing Martha Stewart or Julia Child as well.  I am starting to be better aware of the relationships between foods, to understand how certain spices or flavors or textures compliment and contradict one another.  I believe all of these new cooking mentalities led to my fajita-making endeavor.
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I knew I had plenty of peppers and onion, and Mike always picks up at least one steak and a few chicken breast each Sunday.  What we don’t use within two days, we freeze.  I also knew that we had Ezekiel tortillas in the freezer that could make a yummy fajita roll-up or just as a starch of sorts under and the seasoned goodness.  As soon as we got home, I got the kids set up with some coloring, began defrosting the tortillas, and began my prep.

This meal took no more than 15 minutes from start to finish: 5 minutes to wash and chop/slice and 10 minutes to saute the veggies and grill the steak.  This turned out to be a new favorite of mine.  I have made it twice in the past two weeks. Yum!

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INGREDIENTS
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thin
1 green bell pepper, sliced thin
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
1 lean steak (ranch steak is the perfect size), sliced thin
1 chicken breast, sliced thin
1/2 Ezekiel tortilla per fajita
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (optional, to taste)
1/4 cup fresh or jarred salsa (optional, to taste)
1/2 cup Mexican blend cheese (optional, to taste)

(Ok, lots of thin slices–but the thinner the better!)

SEASONING
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cumin

  1. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Toss in veggies and stir frequently for 3 minutes. Adjust heat as needed.
  2. Preheat grill pan over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil over steak and chicken, and then grill for approximately 2-3 minutes each side.  Keep a close eye on this, though, as size and thickness make a big difference.
  3. Add seasoning spices directly to saute pan, tossing veggies to coat.  Continue cooking until onions are translucent.
  4. Break up 1/2 tortilla on plate (or stuff!), top with veggies, and then protein of choice (I had a little of both!).  I then sprinkled cheese over it all, and dolloped a spoonful of Greek yogurt on top in lieu of sour cream.  Add salsa as well if you choose.

That’s it! Simply, scrumptious, and just the right amount of spicy.  Please comment below with your thoughts or variations!

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Pam’s Specialty: Fruit Salsa

I am hosting my first fitness and nutrition challenge group and I LOVE it.  The women participating are motivating me to work harder at meeting my exercise, nutrition, and water-intake goals each day.  It is also empowering to see so many women taking positive steps towards being their best, most well selves.  It takes courage and willpower to make the decision to do something for yourself–especially for moms or working women.  Seeing these remarkable women do that is just uplifting.

While planning out my Tasty Tuesday content for this week, I considered focusing on a recipe suitable for 21 Day Fix, but during the brainstorming process, I was chopping fruit for my “famous” fruit salsa and realized I was looking my recipe right in the face.  The amazing women in my group can treat themselves to this on March 21. 😉  Next week, though, I’ll post a recipe we can all love, 21 Day Fixers and all others alike.

If you invite me to your home–be it for brunch, a 31 party, the Super Bowl, you name it–you better believe I am bringing fruit salsa. Why? A. It is delicious. B. It is easy. C. It functions as app or dessert or topping (hello, waffles or pancakes!) or, even, side dish. D. It is semi-clean and decently healthy.  If you have 15 minutes, you, too can make this and be the favorite guest. It is also perfect to throw together when you have company coming over yourself or to keep in the fridge to top off some ice cream.

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I found a variation of this recipe years ago and have played around with it since.  Raspberry preserves really work best.  There is something about the tart, tangy nature that compliments the fresh fruit and the cinnamon. You can also switched out different fruit, but this combo is my jam–pun intended.  If you must change it up, though, do not eliminate the apple or strawberries.  They make this pop for sure.

I’ve been asked this recipe by many family and friends over the years, so let me give it to you straight.  Little back story, just yumminess!

INGREDIENTS
• 1 apple (golden delicious is my fave in this recipe, but any variety in season will work)
• 1/2 pint strawberries
• 1/2 pint blueberries
• 1 kiwi
• 1 tbsp seedless sugar-free or all-natural raspberry preserves

1. Chop all of the fruit, including larger blueberries, into small (approx. 1/2-1 cm) pieces.
2. Combine with the preserves in a glass dish.
3. Chill, covered, for at least 15 min (or overnight) and serve with homemade cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.  Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips are perfect, too.

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TO MAKE YOUR OWN CHIPS:
• 4 Ezekiel tortillas, thawed
• nonstick coconut oil spray
• 1 tsp brown sugar
• 1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray cookie sheet with coconut oil nonstick spray.
  2. Break tortillas into bite size portions and arrange on the cookie sheet.  You will have to do this in batches.
  3. Spray the chips with the coconut oil, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and brown sugar.
  4. Bake quickly–for 3-5 minutes–depending on size of the chips.

You can also add sugar to the chips if you wish.  I like them like this!