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 ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

 

 

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

I’m currently watching a documentary on Netflix calledย 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,ย  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 articlesย  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 Americaโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

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

“And inside…. MUFFINS!”

If anyone can tell me what movie that title quote is from I’ll give you something for free. I’m not sure what, but I’m open to suggestions. Just because it’s a great movie. Mom, you don’t count, but I’ll give you a hug anyways.

Tonight I’m talkin’ bout muffins. I found this recipe online. I really like it because it’s just big enough to give me an extra boost in the morning before I work out, but light enough that I don’t really have to wait for it to digest. Lots of healthy muffin recipes call for them lately, but I like that bananas aren’t an ingredient. Once I ate a banana before a 5k race and it… let’s say… came up the same way… about 100 yards from the finish line. Good news is I felt like a new women and sprinted to the end. Okay news is I know not to eat bananas before I work out. Bad news is I had to find out that way. Each muffin is around 100 calories, depending on what you put in the recipe. I’ve made these the way the recipe calls for with blueberries, but I’ve also made raisin, and blueberry and dark chocolate chip. Strawberry and raisin is in the oven right now!

The thing I changed in this recipe was to use Ultragrain flour instead of white (which I do with just about everything now). I also noticed that there are two different temperatures it says to cook on in the directions. I’ve used 400 degrees successfully each time, for about 21 minutes (but every oven is different, so watch the time!).

First, make a giant mess on the counter

First, make a giant mess on the counter

Mix the dry ingredients without letting the flour puff up in your eyes

Mix the dry ingredients without letting the flour puff up in your eyes

Put muffins in the oven. Caution: HOT

Put muffins in the oven. Caution: HOT

Sorry I got caught up and didn’t take pictures of all the steps.

In other news, I’m back into making these things called barefoot sandals. I love them and try to sell them when I can as well. I just made the awesome 4th of July one below last week . It’s so sparkly it reminds me of fireworks. I love all sparkly things. And not just because I’m blonde. You get that thought out of your head right now.

Fourth of July Barefoot Sandal. You can find some others I've made on my pinterest. I don't have an Etsy account, but if you'd like one, email or comment and we'll figure it out from there :)

Fourth of July Barefoot Sandal. You can find some others I’ve made on my pinterest. I don’t have an Etsy account, but if you’d like one, email or comment and we’ll figure it out from there ๐Ÿ™‚

Well, they’re done! The condo smells delicious and they look even better. The recipe makes about 12, and I usually just freeze them and pull one out in the morning, pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds, and EAT IT.

Mmmmm Close-ups make everything look more delicious. But actually these look delicious from far away, too.

Mmmmm Close-ups make everything look more delicious. But actually these look delicious from far away, too.

What’s your pre-workout snack?

Good Things ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

Weekend Challenge May 4th and 5th

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In honor of the weekend holiday you have one and a half challenges. The “one” because you have to and the “half” because it would be cool if you did. So here you go.

One: Try this holiday-inspired exercise. Lay something down on the floor, like a jump rope or long towel, use a tile line in the kitchen, the meeting of the wood floor and carpet, a sidewalk crack etc. Basically, you need something to jump over. Start on one side, and simply hop back and forth from one side of the line to the other. I’m calling this the “Mexican Jumping Bean.” Hop as fast as you can back and forth for 30-60 seconds Saturday and Sunday before every meal and every time you get up from sitting for a long time. Wake up those stiff limbs and that metabolism. Play some spicy music while you do it for extra credit.

Half: Find a healthy Mexican recipe to make once this weekend. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A family favorite or a new experiment. You may find some ideas here, or you can easily google something like “Healthy Cinco de Mayo recipes”.

On an unrelated noted, National Star Wars Day, tomorrow is. Use the force and stay healthy!

Good Things ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

Magical Kale Smoothie and a Kick-Butt Interval Workout

Today I am sick and I don’t know why. My tummy hurts! Being sick means cinnamon toast and other foods that are all, unfortunately, the same color. My lovely brother took care of me and brought me an “Island Smoothie” from Tropical Smoothie a little bit ago. Two things happened. First, it hit the spot. I couldn’t drink the whole thing, but what I did drink was deee-licious. Second, it reminded me of the homemade smoothie I’ve been making lately. Here’s the recipe:

Banana Kale Smoothie
1 frozen banana
1 branch/leaf/whatever that thing is called of kale
5-8 slices of frozen peaches
1 small container vanilla Light & Fit yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup of milk (depending on how thick you like it, and how much liquid your blender needs to mix it)

Toss everything into the blender and blend until smooth. You don’t want kale leaves floating around in your drink (or maybe you do?)

This recipe makes a lot, definitely enough to serve 2 people, but I don’t usually have anyone to share with and end up drinking it all myself. No complaints here! Yummy! It looks green and tastes like banana. Get a serving of veggies and the only evidence is the color.

Because I wasn’t feeling well today I missed my workout (better than throwing up on the machines I always say) but I’ve been thinking of what to share with you to make up for it, because if I can’t workout someone’s got to do it for me!

This can be done walking or running, inside on the treadmill or outside in the sunshine. You can walk the “recovery” stage and jog/run the more intense parts, or run the whole thing. I’ve read in more than one place that doing a 20-25 minute interval workout can have the same benefits as a longer 40-45 minute constant cardio workout (although both should still be utilized). Interval workouts are also nice when you’re a little short on time. Try this one next time you want to spice up your cardio session:

Interval Cardio Workout
5-10 minute warmup
1. High-intensity pace for 90 seconds
2. Sprint for 30 seconds
3. Recovery Pace for 120 seconds
Repeat steps 1-3 as many times as you can or have time for. Each set is a total of 4 minutes. Give yourself a slight cool-down at the end.

So maybe your sprint is the fastest walk you can do, or your sprint is a jog and your high-intensity pace is the fastest walk you can do. Or maybe you’re intense and you’re going to run the whole thing. Maybe it will be harder than you thought and you can set a goal for yourself to not walk through any of it. Maybe you’ll have to start with only 3 or 4 sets, but want to work your way up to 7 or 8 sets. Or maybe you woke up late and need a good cardio workout in a shorter amount of time than your long run (look into Tabata for a solution also).

Whichever way you decide to do it, be thankful that paying attention to the minutes help time fly by. Before you know it, your workout will be done!

Have you tried running/walking/working out to something other than music? Pick up an audiobook for your iPod of that book you’ve been meaning to read but just can’t find the time for, or try a podcast. Check out the library for some good books on tape you can load onto your iPod. I’ve found audiobooks and podcasts to really help pass the time, especially when I wan’t in the mood to workout in the first place.

Good Things ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

IT’S PI DAY EVERYBODY

March 14th=3/14=3.14. You know what that means? Only that you get to look forward to a pi-themed workout and healthy pi(e) for dessert. Let’s get cracking.

The workout today will provide a good mixture of cardio and strength training. There are two workouts. One for those of you who don’t have access to weights at the gym, and one for those of you who do. Do each exercise for one minute. There will be 3 minutes of cardio (3 exercises), a 1-minute rest, and 4 minutes of strength training. Here are your options:

At Home: No Weights

3: Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Squat Jumps

1: REST

4: Lunges
Push-ups
Squats (touch the floor with your fingers every time you squat down!)
Diamond Push-ups
REPEAT 3-5 TIMES

With Weight

3: Jumping Jacks
Mountain Climbers
Squat Jumps

1: REST

4: Lunge with Bicep Curl
Curtsey with V-Raise
Squat with Shoulder Press
Squat Pulse holding weight straight out in front of you
REPEAT 3-5 TIMES
*3 minutes of cardio can also be substituted at a fast pace on an elliptical/treadmill/bike etc.

And what would Pi Day be without super delicious yummy almost-homemade pie? My pick (the same one I made last year) is Easy Peanut Butter Pie. My love of peanut butter may sway my vote a bit when choosing this over a fruit pie, but I can’t resist! You’re all invited over to have a piece of mine when I come home from work tomorrow night. First come, first serve!

So happy Pi Day to all, and may you find the perfect way to celebrate!

Good Things ๐Ÿ™‚

FS&JJ

Let’s talk about snacks.

Snacking is something I do a LOT of. It’s mostly healthy, which is good, but I also have a wicked sweet tooth that gets the best of me some nights. In the end, it’s usually okay to happen once in a while because I am lucky to be very active. However, sometimes you just run into those consecutive days where you’re really busy with work or on a project, and that’s where healthy eating, specifically healthy snacking, can be very beneficial. I’d like to share some of my favorite snacks with you, and I hope that you’ll like them too!

Mix-Your-Own Trail Mix
3/4 cup Fiber One chocolate cereal
3/4 cup Cheerios
1/4 cup Archer Farms (Target!) Sunny Cranberry trail mix (or another nut and fruit blend. I chose this one because it was inexpensive at Target and still healthy)

Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix, Cheerios, and Fiber One Chocolate Cereal

Sunny Cranberry Trail Mix, Cheerios, and Fiber One Chocolate Cereal

Simply mix ingredients in a bag and take it to work or the doctor’s office or on errands or wherever you may need a snack. Only 290 calories.

Blueberry Parfait
1/4-1/2 cup frozen blueberries (or fruit of choosing)
1/2-1 cup Light-and-Fit vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup Bare Naked Fit granola- vanilla almond crunch
(these measurements are up to you to experiment with and see if you like more fruit, more yogurt, etc.)

Light and Fit vanilla yogurt, frozen blueberries, and Bear Naked Fit granola

Light and Fit vanilla yogurt, frozen blueberries, and Bear Naked Fit granola

Microwave blueberries (or other frozen fruit of your choosing) for 14 seconds in the microwave. Mix them around and heat another 14 seconds. Add yogurt and granola, stir, and enjoy!

Another good yogurt option, especially if you’re on the go, is Light and Fit Greek yogurt. Less calories and sugar than many other greek yogurts out there. Greek yogurt taste funny to you, or look too chunky? Give it a really good stir. I know it sounds weird but it really helps to smooth it out!

Light and Fit Greek Yogurt

Light and Fit Greek Yogurt

Caprese Salad
1 serving low- or non-fat cottage cheese
1 roma tomato, sliced into pieces
1-2 teaspoons basil (or fresh basil leaves if you’re feeling
fancy)

Roma tomato, Low-fat cottage cheese, and Basil

Roma tomato, Low-fat cottage cheese, and Basil

Cut up tomato and mix in a bowl with cottage cheese. Sprinkle basil leaves on top and nomnomnom.

And finally…
Rotisserie Chicken
Now I don’t mean make a whole rotisserie chicken, I mean buy one already made from Walmart and de-bone it. Shred it and stick your leftovers in the fridge. You can easily pull some out when you get hungry and heat it up in a bowl with some bbq sauce (or other flavor of your liking). Chicken is high in protein and low in fat (which reminds me, TAKE THE SKIN OFF WHEN YOU DE-BONE THE CHICKEN!)

Whole chicken

Whole chicken

Shredded chicken

Shredded chicken

I also just made these yummy and light snacks for my extra-sweet tooth at night. A snack from the show Biggest Loser. And who can say no to peanut butter (JIF natural, or course)? YUM.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Try these out and find some more new ones. Remember, just because they’re healthy doesn’t mean they’re not filling and delicious!

BONUS AB TIME!
It’s all about planks tonight. Whether you do them on your elbows or in push-up position with your arms straight, try to hold each one at least 1 minute. Repeat three times, resting about 30 seconds in between. My challenge for you is to hold for more than a minute. Try to max out and hold for as long as you can each time! Doing it again tomorrow? Try to beat your times from today. What’s another ten… or thirty… seconds, huh? No big deal, that’s what.

Good Things ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

Good Things,

FS&JJ