Sunday, Sunday, Almost Monday

Hi! Did you have a nice weekend? We were pretty busy here. Yesterday we played tourists in our own town, which was a lot of fun. There were so many things we hadn’t seen before. Pictures below! Our roommate moved back in as well. We missed her! And her mommy accompanied her down, just in time for her and my boyfriend’s birthday(s) (TWINS!). It’s nice to have all the company during special times like birthdays and holidays.

Tonight was my Thirty-One party. It was great! Quite a few people showed up, both invitees and their friends, so I got to meet some new people as well. The food turned out great, so I’d like to share a few recipes that went over extra-well tonight.

First, this pink lemonade cake, which I turned into cupcakes. I swapped oil for unsweetened applesauce. I used a marshmallow fluff-pink lemonade mix concoction for the icing, and they were SUPER messy, but SUPER yummy.

Second, this fruit dip, which was a HIT and tasted really great with fresh strawberries and pineapple. I’m sure it tastes good with a lot of other fruits… or plain… not speaking from experience or anything. I used Greek yogurt instead of regular. More protein, less sugar, always delicious.

Another dip that went over really well is one that I made in my mini crock-pot. Mix together 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 cup of salsa, and one pound of ground turkey. Let it heat up and enjoy with tortilla chips. Warning: this dip is addictive!

Finally, I wanted to share about the brownies just because I was so excited about the way they turned out. One box of brownie mix (I used Pilsbury Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix) and one 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans (yes, black beans!). Puree the black beans, liquid and all, until smooth. Stir together with the brownie mix, and dump into a pan. Bake according to directions, but check it a few minutes early because it may cook a little faster than normal.

Food Set-Up (Fruit Dip and Fruit, Veggies with dip and hummus, Swedish turkey meatballs, Mexican dip, chips, and salsa.

Food Set-Up (Fruit Dip and Fruit, Veggies with dip and hummus, Swedish turkey meatballs, Mexican dip, chips, and salsa.

Thirty-One Set-Up!

Thirty-One Set-Up!

Touristing the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. Anti-Hair since... hopefully forever

Touristing the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. Anti-Hair since… hopefully forever

Albino alligator and his turtle friend at the Alligator Farm. Best Buds.

Albino alligator and his turtle friend at the Alligator Farm. Best Buds.

Time to start another week! Make sure you choose to make it a good one for yourself, because you CAN choose.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

 

 

Just a Little Time

Happy hump day! Ah, Wednesday. Not quite the Friday feeling, but definitely better than a Monday feeling. I chose to spend mine visiting my boyfriend for the day. He needed a little cheering up, and what better way than to bring offerings of food and adventure? We went to see The Lone Ranger this morning. That movie was a lot of fun! I really liked it. Like a Pirates of the Caribbean adventure on land.

We’ll be heading to the beach in a bit, but I’m passing the time right now getting in some small exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, and planks. There are just some days you can’t devote an hour to a full workout, but you can still squeeze in ten (or even five!) minutes a couple times a day and get results. Whether it be waiting for your toast to pop, shower water to get warm, microwave to finish (You put food in for one minute? Do one minute of high knees and butt kicks!), or your friend to come pick you up, see what you can squeeze into your day. Every little hit helps.

Remember me saying I was going out to lunch with my friends? The fried shrimp was tempting, but I ended up getting tilapia fish tacos with coconut rice and black beans. So yummy.
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So your lesson for today: every little bit counts. Don’t make excuses, you DO have time.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Ah Soup, Must be… Another Hot Summer Day in Florida?

I’m sitting down to a yummy hot dinner (on another hot Florida day). Why would I make soup in the summer, you ask (or at least I ask myself)? Because it’s really yummy and really easy. It took about 15 minutes to make and all of the ingredients were already magically in my kitchen. Try this recipe for Turkey Meatball and Tortellini Spinach Soup and you won’t be disappointed. I changed the recipe a bit and used turkey meatballs (frozen aisle at Target) and this time had to use ravioli because someone kidnapped my tortellini. Whether you use ravioli or tortellini, it will still turn out wonderfully. Don’t forget to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top for that last little bit of flavor.

Hot off the stove! 15-minute Turkey Meatball and Tortellini (Ravioli) Spinach Soup

Hot off the stove! 15-minute Turkey Meatball and Tortellini (Ravioli) Spinach Soup

My brother and I escorted Mom and Dad to the airport today, and with that dropped off the rest of our holiday week as well. Lucky for my pet fishy Spartacus (lovingly referred to as Sparty), who likes to be petted and thinks he’s a dog, we stopped by Walmart on the way home and I got him some water tablets, so someone gets to sleep in a clean bed tonight.

I’ll be finishing off my weekend with a nice long stretch-session (as should you, if you read the weekend challenge yesterday…). Car rides and weekends off can make me stiff, so I try to do a little something (yes, even on days when I’m not working out!) just to feel healthy.

In case anyone was looking for something to watch tonight, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 will be on ABC Family. Hint Hint.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

I’m currently watching a documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It’s about a man named Joe, whose lifestyle lead him to develop health problems such as high blood pressure, a severe skin disease, and almost-issues like being pre-diabetic and at serious risk of heart problems. He decides to “Reboot”, that is, do a juicing cleanse for 60 days. The documentary follows him on his journey through the withdrawals of fast foods, sugar, and processed foods to eventually losing over 200 pounds (and counting) via his new diet choices and switching from a sedentary to active lifestyle. Check out the website here. His dedication to better his life was an inspiration to many of the other people interviewed/followed in the documentary, and it got me thinking, too.

Now I’m definitely not saying I’m about to do a 60-day juice cleanse, but it has made me wonder more about the foods I’m putting (and maybe shouldn’t be putting) into my body. In the last few months I’ve been trying to get my full daily recommendation of fruits and veggies (2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables, according to this CDC website), and even that has been a little challenging (maybe not so much the fruits…). I’ve been buying more veggies like carrots, cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes, and have even added 1 8oz. glass of V8 V-Fusion (Light!) to my diet to help. I bring carrots to work for a snack, saute squash or eat individually packaged veggies from Green Giant for dinner,  and have even taken to finding staple recipes like Caprese Quinoa Salad and Korean Cucumber Salad for Wednesdays when I bring back my haul from the farmer’s market.

Another thing I don’t think I want to do is become a vegetarian or vegan. I LOVE meat. It’s good, good for me (depending…), and is one of my main sources for protein. Many vegetarians and vegans (but not all!) end up needing to take supplements to get essential vitamins and minerals they may not get otherwise as a result of their diet. Our ancestors lived in a natural way of using the land, and I want to continue to as well. Unfortunately, with the higher and higher demands of meat in the world today, manufacturers are injecting animals with things like steroids and growth hormones.

On the same subject, many similar facts are being stated about fruits and vegetables. Pesticides (“cide” meaning “to kill”) and other chemicals are being sprayed on the crops to keep insects away and to make the food ripen at the “right time”. So, the solution? To buy organic. Everything? Some things? That’s what I’m working on understanding now. Besides remembering which fruits and veggies I need to buy organic, there’s the fact that I’m fresh out of college and still trying to find my way in the world (we’re talking monetarily here…). So far I’ve learned one simple rule about buying organic. Things you need to peel, like mangos, avocados, bananas, corn, onions, etc… don’t need to be organic. However strawberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, etc… should be. Then nutrition articles  start to contradict each other and scientists discover new things. By the time I do some research, I feel like I’m right back where I started. My knowledge bank is overflowing with “GMOs” and “BHT” and “BHA” and “BPA” and nitrate products and refined sugars and on and on. I’ve started collecting information and storing it here, on my Pinterest page, where I can refer to it easily before I go grocery shopping or save a recipe.

Semi-considering all that’s going around now, I try to eat the best I can. If I’m craving something sweet, I try to make my own dessert so I can control how much good stuff and bad stuff goes into it. I’ve taken to substituting unsweetened applesauce for oil in my waffles, cake, and some other recipes (although we found out the sad way that it’s not a very good substitute in brownies). I buy a big bag of brown rice to cook and season myself instead of buying the high-sodium boxed and 90-second microwave bag versions. I’ve also grown to love quinoa. I like Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt. JIF natural peanut butter instead of regular or reduced fat. I buy cereal with 8 grams of sugar or less. I use regular milk (1%) for bowls of cereal and recipes, but have started using soy milk (original, unsweetened) in smoothies. I get lots of my protein from the things listed above, like milk, meat, Greek yogurt, and eggs.

In the end, I just try my best to eat as well as I can every day. If I go out to dinner and get something that’s not the… healthiest… it’s okay. I can’t feel bad about one unhealthy meal. Just like one good meal doesn’t make you “skinny”, one bad meal isn’t going to make you fat. It’s your overall diet and habits that make your body the way it is. Take care of it.

Here’s a list I found on a blog pinned to my Pinterest page of documentaries (like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead). I’ve only seen Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Supersize Me (which I watched in high school and would definitely recommend). I hope that by watching some more of these I learn more about today’s food industry.

  1. Food Inc.
  2. Vegucated.
  3. Fork Over Knives
  4. Hungry for a Change
  5. Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
  6. Fork Over Knives The Extended Interview
  7. America the Beautiful
  8. Killer at Large (why obesity is America’s greatest threat)
  9. A Walk to Beautiful
  10. FAT What No One Is Telling You
  11. King Corn, Our Daily Bread
  12. Supersize Me
  13. Future of Food
  14. Food Matters
  15. Fed Up
  16. Food Fight

From what I have seen and read, the thing I do know is that if I ever decide to do an extreme lifestyle change (that would mean not only becoming vegetarian or vegan, but even going dairy-free, etc…) I would do a LOT of research to make sure I was doing it properly. The last thing I would want in my wish to change and be more healthy was to do the opposite and deprive myself of essential nutrients. If you decide to change your diet, check with a doctor for advice, and if you see any bodily changes that aren’t normal, get things checked out. You don’t want to try to better yourself and end up going the opposite direction!

Well, I guess that’s enough rambling about things I’m not an expert on. Do you have any tips or easy ways to remember other rules about food and diet?

Happy happy Fourth of July!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

P.S. No one ever got fat from eating too many fruits and vegetables.

Easy Peasy Salmon Squeezey… and Asparagus

I’m always in such a time crunch to get my dinner ready to bring for work (I close most nights). Enter sauteed salmon and asparagus. SO easy, and takes less than ten minutes!

First of all, let me say it makes me so happy that it’s asparagus season. All you have to do is cut about an inch off the ends, pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan, and toss 5-6 asparagus around until coated (adjust accordingly for more people). Sprinkle with seasoning, like Old Bay, and cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, until asparagus are a bit soft, like you can dent it if you press a spatula into it.

Grab another frying pan. Rub a seasoning (I love anything by McCormick Grill Mates, found in the spice and seasoning section) over both sides of a piece of thawed salmon (I buy prepackaged salmon, but fresh salmon will work just as well). Set salmon in the frying pan and turn onto medium heat. Pour low-sodium soy sauce (maybe two to three tablespoons, but i just eyeball it and give it enough to cook in) over the salmon and let it cook about 5-7 minutes. Flip over, add more soy sauce if necessary, and cook another 5-ish minutes.

I know these directions are slightly vague, but I usually eyeball most things I cook. Just saute the salmon until, if cut in the middle, it is a light pink color and flakes a bit. It’s quite easy, and very tasty and healthy. Yum yum!

Everyone have a great Friday! Try something that’s active, whether it be a whole exercise routine or just a new exercise, or a walk to the mailbox or high-fiving a new friend or telling a funny joke to everyone at work. YOU can make it a good Friday!

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge March 16th & 17th

Happy Friday everyone! You week is almost over and it’s time to relax! Your Weekend Challenge isn’t an active one this time. I’d like you to try drinking 1 (8oz.) glass of water before each meal. I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately that say this helps to fill you up so you don’t eat as much during your meal. So before breakfast, lunch, and dinner this weekend try drinking some water to conquer that initial hungry feeling. Then chow down (hopefully a little less than you normally would)!

Another thing you can try if you find yourself with the munchies and looking for snacks all weekend is to hydrate. Lots of times your brain will tell you you’re hungry, when all you really need is some fluid. Listen to your tummy!

Do something fun outside this weekend. It will make you happy, and you deserve to be happy.

Good Things 🙂

FS&JJ

How to make a love potion for your Valentine

Just kidding, but here’s a yummy recipe you can make for dinner tomorrow night that may make them love you more. It’s called chicken and broccoli orzo.

Here’s what you’ll need:3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
1.5 cups orzo
1 teaspoon basil
3 or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut up into bite-sized pieces
About 1 cup cooked broccoli
0.5 cups parmesan cheese

And here’s how you make it:
1. Melt butter in a 10-inch or larger pan. Pour in orzo and sautee about two minutes, stirring so orzo is coated in the butter.
2. Pour in chicken broth and basil (Mom says to rub the basil in your hand first to make it more flavorful). Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
3. When most of the liquid is absorbed, mix in broccoli and chicken. Pour parmesan cheese in and mix again.
3. All ready! Enjoy!

It’s delicious, and good for a rainy night like it is here tonight.

I made cookies with hershey kisses for all of my work Valentines tomorrow. I’m trying not to eat any, but I might give in by the end of the night.

Sugar cookies with Peppermint Hershey Kisses.

Sugar cookies with Peppermint Hershey Kisses.

Do you have a Valentine this year? I will be yours if you don’t. Or you can celebrate post-Valentine day instead by going to Target or Walmart and taking advantage of the serious clearance sales on candy. Now THAT’S a good Valentine’s day present.

I thought this was a healthy blog and here I am talking about cookies and candy. Well, I guess you have to indulge every once in a while. That’s good for you, too. 🙂

Now get down and do some abs while you watch TV. Please!

Good Things,

FS&JJ