Spinach, artichoke, and pepper jack cheese stuffed chicken and Paleo almond butter pancakes!

Good morning!

I said yesterday that if I had something new and interesting for dinner that I would post it, so here we go! This is literally just spinach,  1/2 of a piece of pepper jack cheese, and artichokes wrapped in a flattened chicken thigh and baked in the oven! Also with some squash, zucchini,  and onions sautéed on the side! My oh my it was DELICIOUS! I brought some of the leftover chicken for lunch today along with a little bit of Quinoa fried “rice.” Mmm I can’t wait for lunch time!!

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Also, for breakfast this morning,  I  once again woke up againnn immediately made my warm lemon water to drink while I was getting dressed for work. Then, while I was packing my lunch,  I made some chai tea, and a paleo pancake which was unbelievably delicious!!! Here’s what I did:
I took 1/2 of a ripe banana and 1 egg, mixed it up In the blender, cooked it on the skillet, and then spread 2 teaspoons of almond butter on top! Angels were singingggg! Delicious an so quick and easy!!!

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Oh, before I forget, I tried this Berrylicious Microwave Minute Muffin last night and it was such a delicious treat! I also made one with dark chocolate chips (just to try) and it was even better! I forgot to take pictures, sorry! Anyway, the first one I made, I followed the recipe and didn’t use any almond milk and it was good, but a little dry. So for the second, I just added a tiny bit to the mixture and it came out so much more moist!! I have definitely found a new breakfast and/or dessert!!!

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Recent Vacays and Detox! Benefits of Chai Tea and Lemon Water!

Good morning everyone!

I know it has been a week or so since I have posted, but I have been on yet another–and probably my last–beach trip for the summer. It feels like this past month has FLOWN by because I LITERALLY have either been on a trip, or have had so many things going on every weekend since I finished finals. Between two beach trips, a camping trip, Bayou Country Superfest, and my friend’s wedding, I am exhausted, broke, and ready for a few weeks of laying low. Not to mention, I am so excited to not be surrounded by bad food and alcohol. Fortunately, I have come to that point in my journey of healthy living that I have been able to maintain my clean eating habits throughout the majority of the chaos. Even on my vacations, I have managed to continually avoid fatty foods and bring my own clean food and alcoholic beverages. However, this most recent trip, I did slip up and indulge in a couple of guilty pleasures (they had ice cream at the campground and dangit I just wanted that one strawberry/mango margarita!) Of course I felt horrible after each time. The few times I did this though, I did so in moderation–and definitely made sure to drink plenty of lemon water and eat lots of cleansing fruits (such as apples, berries, etc.) Also, even though I did not necessarily eat that many terrible things, I certainly found that I ate A LOT of food. Definitely A LOT MORE than I do on a normal day, which led me to feeling disgusting once I got home. Thus, I am now spending the day detoxing and flushing all of the crap out of me! Anyway, now that I have rambled on long enough, the point of the story is that every week I have been doing extremely well with keeping my body clean and feeling great, and I am excited that for at least a few weeks (that I know of) I will not have to have that be interrupted by any big events or vacays! 

Some of the things I drank as cleaner alternatives:

  • Water and Vodka, Pure Lemonade Crystal Light packets (with stevia)–also added some strawberries and/or blueberries to make it interesting. There are also other flavors available, and you could also use things like Mio.
  • Water and Vodka with Lemon, Strawberries and Blueberries–SO REFRESHING AND DELICIOUS! Could not believe that I could NOT taste the vodka at all! I hate the taste of alcohol! When I ran out of lemons, I used lime and it was just as delicious!
  • Soda Water, Vodka, a hint of Cranberry Juice, and fresh lime juice.

As soon as I got back yesterday, I went straight to Trader Joe’s to get food to prep for the week.  It’s funny how as soon as you walk into Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, you get this automatic feeling of rejuvenation and energy! This sense of “everyone here shares a common interest in health.” I love it :] 

Anyway, I have been wanting to get on the herbal tea wagon for a while now, but I have never been a tea drinker–cold or hot (yes, living in Louisiana this is a cardinal sin). I’ve read about the endless benefits of drinking herbal tea, but I just couldn’t force myself to do it. Well, I FINALLY got the courage to buy a pack of the Chai Tea from Trader Joe’s to try. Guess what?! It’s ACTUALLY pretty good! Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like heaven in my mouth the first sip, but it wasn’t terrible. And honestly, the more I have drank of it, the more it has grown on me. This is such a great way to start off your day, or to end it by sipping on a cup while curled up in your PJs, watching TV a night. Click here for Benefits of Chai Tea!

I also made it an oath to start my morning off with a glass of warm lemon water before I have any breakfast. Of course I know the benefits of lemon water in general and I drink it like crazy; and I had heard before about drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning, but never took the time to try it. After reading about the various benefits, I felt like I had no choice but to make it a part of my morning routine. Here are some benefits of lemon water in general and warm lemon water in the morning. If you google “Benefits of drinking lemon water”, there are other sites that give lists of added benefits! Just go ahead and check it out for yourself!!

With that said, I started this morning off with a glass of warm lemon water. Then, on my way to work, I ate 1/2 of a banana with 1 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s Crunchy Almond Butter. Once I got to work, I started sipping on my Trader Joe’s Chai Tea (I added a tiny bit of almond milk and a little bit of honey to sweeten it–I have to work my way in). 

Here’s what I brought for the rest of the work day:

  • Mid-morning snack–Container of raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.
  • Lunch: Homemade Romaine Salad with Lite Italian Dressing
  • Afternoon/Pre-workout Snack: Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar (Ingredients: Dates, Peanuts, and Salt)

I’m going to go to spin class after work, and then I’m not quite sure what will be for supper yet. But, if it’s something special I’ll be sure to post pics!

Have a great Monday!

 

 

Fitbit Flex!

So, Wednesday my Fitbit Flex came in! I decided to try it out and if nothing else, keep up with how many calories I burn! Little did I know how much this thing really did! It is AWESOME! It not only tracks things like my steps, calories, distance, etc.  It also tracks my sleep patterns throughout the night, how much water I consume, it links with MyFitnessPal and automatically transfers and calculates the calories I’ve taken in and adjusts the number of calories I should be eating depending on the amount of activity I’ve done that day. There are some other features, but these are the one’s I use the most. I have to say, since I have been wearing it all day, it really has made me more conscious about getting up and moving around more or walking extra steps throughout the day. I went for a run around the lakes this morning and it was so nice to not have to try and guess-timate how many calories I’ve burned or exactly how far I ran. It has taken so much stress off in regard to whether or not I am really logging things accurately. I have to say, I am very impressed and addicted already! Oh, and the coolest thing is, it syncs with your smartphone so you can constantly keep up with your progress throughout the day! If you’re looking for a way to track your calories/heart rate/overall health, I highly recommend you trying the Fitbit Flex. Not to mention, it isn’t bulky and is easy to wear all day long! It’s even waterproof!!

 

Anyway, just thought I would share! 

Happy Saturday!

AT LAST! Easy and quick alternatives to all your favorite carb-delicious breakfast foods!!!

So, last night I decided to try making some Paleo Plantain “Bread” and Paleo Plantain Muffins. Since cutting bread, pasta, rice and other simple carbs out of my diet I have not particularly struggled with not having bread, but when I saw these recipes, I figured it may be a good alternative every now and then. The bread turned out DELICIOUS. This morning I actually had 3 squares (I cut them into 1/16ths) with a little bit of natural peanut butter on top. And OH MY GOSH, I did not realize how much I missed having my peanut butter toast! Alone it tastes like nothing really (or like a paleo bread that I once bought from Whole Foods), but with the natural peanut butter on top it tasted almost EXACTLY like I was eating the peanut butter toast I once ate for breakfast! I did not honestly expect it to taste as delightful as it did, but I can assure you I will be making this bread at least once a week! 
As for the muffins, mine did not come out as well as I expected but this is probably due to the fact that I did not add any sweetener like the recipe and I also only added a few raspberries and strawberries (the recipe actually called for 2-2 1/2 cups of blueberries or it said you could add in things like chocolate chips and nuts and such). I definitely think if I added more fruit or dark chocolate chips and nuts, they would be even more delightful! I recommend not skimping on those things. All in all, they still came out okay and with a little honey or peanut butter spread on top, they were still quite tasty! My 2-year-old nephew sure seemed to enjoy them plain!
I am so excited about all of the things I found that I can do with plantains that I never knew before! I can now enjoy some of those delicious carb-filled breakfast indulgences without the guilt and the disgusting bloated feeling afterwards. I don’t know about any of you, but growing up, breakfast was always my favorite meal and I loved everything from pancakes to crepes to Muffins and so forth. And honestly, the one thing I have struggled with lately was becoming bored with breakfast and unable to find breakfast alternatives that were easy and quick in the morning. Now, I am able to change up my boring breakfast routine with this variety of delicious choices! And the best part is, most of them only require a few ingredients (none that are difficult and you wouldn’t have on hand) and can be made in one sitting, but enjoyed for a few days! Here are the pictures from last night and this morning, along with the recipes (and other plantain recipes I found)!

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Paleo Plantain “Bread”

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Paleo Plantain Strawberry & Raspberry Muffins (instead of blueberry)

Paleo Plantain “Bread”
http://purelytwins.com/2013/10/01/grain-free-paleo-gluten-free-plantain-bread/

Paleo blueberry muffins
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2013/07/nut-free-coconut-free-paleo-blueberry-muffins.html

Paleo Crepes
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/09/paleo-crepes-with-nutella.html

Paleo Plantain Pancakes
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/09/perfect-paleo-pancakes.html

Plantain Tortillas
http://zenbellycatering.com/2013/08/17/plantain-tortillas/

Plantain Crackers
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/09/plantain-crackers-nut-free-egg-free.html

I CANNOT wait to try all of these!!!

Happy Wednesday!!

Today’s Lunch!

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Chicken Sausage with Cheesy Spaghetti Squash.

We grilled chicken sausage and chicken breasts last night for supper. There were no breasts left so I settled for the chicken sausage (still very delicious though). I took the left over spaghetti squash from earlier this week and put it in a skillet on the stove, added some basil, black pepper, garlic powder, a sprinkled a little fresh shredded parmesan and colby jack cheese. Cooked it on medium until it was the consistency similar to mashed potatoes.  Delicious and so easy! My two-year-old nephew couldn’t stop eating it last night!

How Stress Affects Weight!

We often think about being healthy healthy as eating well and exercising; however, being healthy consists of wellness in all aspects of your life–mental and emotional health especially. Being a social worker in training–with my interest specifically in mental health–I recognize the significant correlation between stressful life situations and mental instability. And it is important to me that others understand how crucial self-care is to your mental and emotional state. Below are just a few ways daily stress can be harmful not only to your weight loss, but to your overall well-being.

When under stress, the stress hormones Cortisol and Epinephrine increase. It is documented that when Cortisol is high enough, LITERALLY looking at a donut changes your metabolism.

  • #1 best way to digest stress hormones is sleep–deep sleep will metabolize excess Cortisol and Epinephrine better than anything else. If you’re under stress and sleep only 3-4 hours per night, you will gain about 2 pounds over night because the stress hormones make your body retain water (a.k.a “liquid pounds”). It is best to take care of these liquid pounds before they turn into real pounds. Sleep as long as you need to, when you can.
  • 2nd thing is exercise–during physical activity, you’re increasing those “feel good” hormones that you usually go to sugar for. Taking a walk 3-4 times a week is as good as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression.
  • Anything you find sustainably pleasurable will decrease stress hormones–for example, laughter. It can even ultimately increase immunity and decrease pain. Having good social support and adding fun and joy into your life is critical to losing weight and staying healthy. 
  • Word of advice: When you’re upset OR stressed–don’t eat. When we are upset, we don’t have the connection to whether or not we’re satiated or full. We’re trying to fill a void that can never be filled with food.
  • One of the most crucial components of keeping off the weight is LOVE–love for yourself and love for other people. When you begin to take care of yourself, you begin to love yourself and you begin to show that to other people. This makes others enjoy being around you and want to feel the way you do. The more people you feel care about and love you, the safer you feel. When you don’t love yourself, you tend to isolate and close yourself off from others, or take on the perception that other people don’t love you. Thus, you begin to not feel safe. Your body then responds by raising stress hormones which hold onto weight.

So you see, healthy living isn’t just about diet and exercise–those are two VERY important components. But, overall it’s a combination of physical, emotional, and psychological components!

Food pics from yesterday and today along with Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada without the Tortilla.

Last nights dinner/Today’s lunch: Venison Spaghetti with Spaghetti Squash

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For some reason this is always better the next day!

Wednesday’s lunch: Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada without the tortilla.

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This is so delicious and so protein rich!
Basically, you just boil chicken breasts on the stove. Once cooked, shred the chicken and add it to a skillet with red enchilada sauce and black beans. Season with black pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes. Then, if you prefer you can sprinkle some shredded cheese on top; or you can enjoy it just like that! Feel free to add whatever veggies or seasoning that you want to it, but I like it simple!

TA-DA!

Happy Thursday!