Brown rice is a staple in our house because one everybody likes it and two it’s pretty versatile and quick to make! I found this Royal Blend with Flax at our local BJ’s and it seriously is delicious, I am officially obsessed with it! Now this does take longer than the average ten minutes to boil, but it is worth every extra minute because the taste is out of this world. I make mine with a little bit of vegetable broth instead of all water and it adds so much flavor your wouldn’t even believe it!
According to the package you take one cup of the rice blend with two cups of water and let boil for twenty minutes. I find it to be still crunchy and bland tasting so I amped it up a little by adding 1tsp of vegetable base that you can find in the isle the chicken broth and added another half cup of water. I also increased the cooking time until at least thirty-five minutes or until it’s the texture that you and your family prefer! To this rice, water, and veggie paste I also add about a tablespoon of olive oil and then let it all simmer until all the liquid is absorbed and then simply fluff with a fork and serve! To this rice you can also add in whatever veggies or meat you like and make it more of a stir-fry or you could just choose to use it as a side dish. Either way it has tons of flavor and is very filling! Pictured above I chose to serve it plain with sautéed spinach and grilled asparagus for me, and below for the hubs and my daughter with steamed broccoli and a grilled London-broil marinated in Italian dressing by Good Seasons.
I highly recommend checking out the grain aisle of your local grocery store and seeing what kinds of rice blends you can find, it’s good to switch it up every now and then so you don’t get bored with eating the same thing all the time!! If you have any faves leave a comment down below I would love to hear what you guys like!!
I have been obsessing over some new products that I have recently found at our local grocery store! So obviously I wanted to share with you guys!! Just as a reference I am still trying to stick to a mostly vegan diet and limit the amount of processed foods that I eat because I have been feeling awesome! I would say that 90% of the time the foods I eat are plant or grain based, but sometimes I do eat things that are packaged and do not have dairy listed as an ingredient, but states that it could have traces where it was produced. If I really am craving it then I eat it, for example the homemade mac and cheese my mom made for Easter! It was delicious and completely worth the treat, but I noticed a difference and haven’t had dairy since.
It is all about what makes you feel good and what works for your lifestyle! I think no matter if you are vegan or not these are some great products to try out you might just like them!
First I want to start off with an easy snack or breakfast idea that is tasty but filling at the same time. I use Ezekiel bread which is sold in the frozen bread isle and it is made from sprouted grains and contains no flour or dairy products. All you have to do is store it in the freezer and toast it when you are ready to eat it, top with some raw almond butter and of course a banana and it’s the perfect treat!
My husband actually brought these home from the grocery store yesterday for the babe but I tried a few and they are so good! Quaker makes a whole bunch of other flavored rice cakes that are delicious like the chocolate and the cheddar you just have to make sure that you portion them out or before you know it the whole bag is gone! They are a great sweet treat and at 110 calories for 13 rice cakes it makes a perfect snack!I am in love with this almond milk and if you also drink it I hope that you can find it in your local stores to try it out! I talked about the Almond Breeze in previous post which I still love, but my grocery store is always out of it so I had to try something else one week and I ended up loving this one by Califa Farms. It does have 50 calories per cup compared to the 30 of Almond Breeze but it makes my coffee taste delicious and almost a little creamier which I love! We use this all the time in smoothies too and it works perfectly! If you are ever craving chocolate especially at night I am obsessed with these Dole Dipper they are only 100 calories for the pack and they are basically frozen banana slices covered in dark chocolate and they are so good!
This is my favorite to-to sauce if I am not making it homemade, I always like to have some on hand for a quick-lunch or dinner option. It is perfect over spaghetti squash or organic pasta and sautéed veggies! It has 80 for 1/2c but the flavor is so good that you don’t need any more than that on a serving of pasta or squash!
Lately I have been craving a sweet treat and this snack is perfect and takes about five minutes to make! This is really simple but came from making my low-fat apple desserts. The longest part of making this snack is peeling and cutting up the apple! My husband and daughter absolutely love this snack and are always asking me to make it for them!
We like to eat them cold because they are sweet and have a great crunch, but you could throw them in the microwave or glass bowl to heat them up on a cold winter day.
1-2 Apples Sliced
Sprinkle of Cinnamon
Sprinkle of Brown Sugar or Sugar Substitute
Calories: Under 100 depending on size of apple
I love snacks like these because they are so simple but delicious and fresh. There are so many different ways to use apples so we always have a big bag of them in the house. We love them to eat plain or juice them with greens!
I love snacks salty are the best but I have to watch myself because they can get me into trouble. There is nothing wrong with having a snack like pita chips, or tortilla chips, or even popcorn. You just have to be aware of how much you are eating, something I never used to do. A serving size of tortilla chips is about 10 chips and can be around 140 calories which isn’t too bad for a chip, but I would catch myself blindly eating handfuls of them and then you have to guess as to how much you are really eating. So I started to literally count them out and that way I know how many calories I am eating.
This is one of my favorite snacks, guacamole and reduced fat tortilla chips. I usually just make my own guacamole because I usually always have avocados. For some reason they are never ripe when I want half of one and then I have 3 ripe at once so this is a great way to use up ripe avocados and its delicious!
3 Ripe Avocados
1-2 Small Vine Ripe Tomatoes
1/2 Lemon Juiced
Garlic Powder, Salt, & Pepper to taste
*Mash it all up in a bowl to your desired consistency!Another one of my go-to snacks that I eat several times a week is popcorn. This is hands down my fave snack of all time. If you get the urge to snack on something at night like I do then this is perfect because it can be very low in calories and you can flavor it however you like! I always use an air popper to make mine from white corn so there is no added fat or oil. After it’s done popping I use a misto olive oil sprayer to add a little extra virgin olive oil. Then I top it with sea salt and a little cayenne pepper for a little kick! My husband uses a non-fat butter spray and white cheddar flavoring powder that has like no calories. There are so many different options and for about 7 cups of popcorn its under 150 calories.
Fruit is the fastest food and best snack you can have in my opinion. If I am starving or I will be out all day I always make sure to grab an apple, banana, or grapes. They aren’t that messy to eat in the car and can be very filling. A medium apple, cup of grapes, and banana are all around 100 calories and make a perfect snack on the go!
Breakfast is seriously my fave meal of the day I love coffee and for me it’s the easiest meal to think of things to eat. Fruit, oatmeal, egg whites with veggies, smoothies, and raw juice are some that I always go back to. Recently on my 21 day Vegan venture I have had to make slight changes to what I normally eat to complete this goal I set for myself. As I have mentioned previously I have been a pescitarian for about 7ish months now so it wasn’t that hard of a transition to make even though I am obsessed with cheese!
For starters my coffee, the past couple of months I switched over to unsweetened vanilla almond milk because it has significantly fewer calories than even skim milk. The brand I prefer is Almond Breeze and it only has 30 calories per cup compared to about 90 calories in your typical fat-free milk. It may not seem like a lot but it adds up at the end of the day. I always put a sweetener in my coffee with dairy milk, soy, or almond, so I honestly couldn’t tell a difference in taste.
I would rather save these calories and have a piece of cheese later in the day where you can actually taste and enjoy the flavor. I have tried other brands of almond milk and for some reason don’t like them as much, the ingredients are similar but personally I will always buy the Almond Breeze. I also always use this when making any type of smoothie, this would be a great way to incorporate it and you literally can not taste it at all. It works great with fruit and also with protein powder one of my fave combos is chocolate protein powder a banana and a cup of almond milk its delish!
The next substitution I have made for over a year now is to a different type of sweetener other than sugar. I have read articles and books that compare the different types of artificial sweeteners and as far as I know there is really nothing positive linked to any of them and the ingredients can be linked to all types of health problems and even cancer. Personally I love Truvia, that’s what I use in my coffee and whenever I bake anything. It gives me enough sweetness but I don’t get that gross feeling after I normally do when I eat regular white sugar. I also buy the baking blend and individual packets which are great to throw in your bag and take with you on the go.
So a typical breakfast for me in the winter is oatmeal, I think it tastes amazing and the best part is you can make it taste however you want. You could add protein powder if you want more calories, frozen berries, cinnamon, vanilla extract, really the possibilities are endless.
My Fave Oatmeal
1/2 c dry Whole Oats (so much better than the instant)
1/2c Water (or a milk)
1tsp Hershey’s Baking Chocolate
1/2 Ripe Banana
Total Calories: 230 (could vary depending on your oatmeal brand and type of chocolate)
For me this keeps me more than full until lunch or my next snack and I have tons of energy! Combined with my two cups of coffee (about 20 calories for both) all for under 250 calories. If you are working or don’t have a lot of time for lunch you could increase your calories easily by adding more oatmeal, different fruit, or a whole banana. I like keeping my breakfast around 300 calories that way I have more flexibility during the rest of the day or if I know we will be eating out and personally I am always hungrier later in the day. Pictured above is the baking bar of chocolate and has been a recent substitution for me because the normal chocolate chips I was previously using were made with buttermilk. I made the mistake of taking a bite of this chocolate and it was the most bitter thing on the planet! haha So please don’t make the same mistake its 100% cocoa and has no sweetener added! I shave as much as I want off and it melts perfectly into my oatmeal and when mixed with the Truvia it’s not bitter at all!
This is a post I couldn’t be more excited and really shocked to be writing about. Since I have been a kid weight has always been something that I have been super conscious about, I was never a girl who could just eat whatever they wanted and fit into my clothes. Although I constantly thought about what size I was wearing or what workouts I was going to do that week, it never was really a problem for me. I didn’t let it control my life if I wanted to eat something I would and I would just make sure to work it off. I played sports in High school and some of College, but I was always a member of a gym no matter where I lived. I enjoyed working out and never really thought of it as a chore or annoyance, it’s a great stress reliever for me. I have been so lucky that my friends from high school, college, and now always love to workout with me so it has been fun.
When we moved to Washington State it was a real transition from going from 21 credits in school and working to living in a new place with no friends, no job, and no second car. I was confined by the walls of our first apartment with my husband working long hours. Thankfully we had a small gym and I occasionally used it, but not like I worked out at home. Running was a no-go due to the lack of sidewalks and crazy dogs that were constantly loose around our neighborhood. Gradually I gained about 15lbs until I started working at Nordstrom about 6 months after moving to WA. I really enjoyed working there, I met a lot of great girls and stayed at a constant weight and tried to fit workouts in with my odd retail hours.
About a year later we unexpectedly found out that we were pregnant with our baby girl! We were definitely shocked but couldn’t be more excited to grow our small family! I worked until I was about 8 months pregnant and had gained about another 20lbs. After I stopped working we found out that Eric would be deploying to Afghanistan right around when the baby was due. I knew that a deployment was coming its part of the Army life, but I couldn’t believe he might miss the birth of our baby girl! So as you can imagine the stress set in and I literally ate whatever I wanted. You name it I was eating it, peanut M&M’s were my fave along with pizza, Mexican, and Bryer’s vanilla and chocolate ice cream!
7 months pregnant at my shower with my sisters and cousins
As the months progressed we found out the details of the deployment, decided I would move back to PA with my family and then Eric would leave. We started to pack up our house before the baby was born. On top of all that I was 10 days late and a giant whale and could not be more ready to have this baby! All in all I weighed 244lbs at my last doctors appointment before I had the baby, thankfully I had a very healthy pregnancy and no complications with the birth. She came out a perfectly healthy little nugget weighing a little over 7lbs. Eric and I could not have been any happier. We got extremely lucky and his deployment was pushed back a month and he was home for the delivery. We had everything packed and shipped and were living in a hotel until Eric had to leave which was a feat in itself with a new-born baby. Thankfully my mom had come to stay with us, helped us pack, helped with the baby and was with me to drop Eric off to deploy. Nothing was more difficult than that morning saying goodbye to my best friend and our baby only being a little over 4 weeks old.
So my mom and I made the 3,000 mile cross country flight from WA to PA and lived at home for 9 months while Eric was deployed. I cant express how crazy and weird it was to be a brand new mom with your husband in Afghanistan and living in your childhood room. I could not be more grateful for my family and friends it makes me want to cry just thinking about it! They have been there and dropped everything to help Eric and I, we are just so lucky! For the first couple of months I really just walked and did light activity and focused on the baby and breast feeding which was supposed to melt the pounds away. Not the case for this girl! At about 3 months post baby I had still only lost 18lbs and about half of that was the actual baby! I was getting frustrated, but I wasn’t watching what I was eating and thought that breast feeding and walking would get the weight off.
It wasn’t until after a wedding I was in that August that I finally decided that I knew I could do better and this wasn’t the mom I wanted to be for my daughter. Diabetes and high blood pressure run in my family and I was a ticking time bomb. All of this extra weight was doing nothing positvie for me and I felt like I was trapped in a fat suit. So I joined LA Fitness and worked out after the baby was asleep thanks to my mom and sisters for always watching her! I hiked with my friends and sisters, and one of my best friends Alex worked out almost every single day with me! I started logging everything I ate with MyFitness Pal and could start to see the scale dropping!
Around November of 2012 Alex (above left) was a life saver and helped me fly back to WA find a condo and helped me move our entire storage unit into the new place unpacked everything by ourselves and indulged in Sushi the whole time we were there! I was still no where near my goal weight but had dropped about a total of 45lbs so I was back in actual jeans and not pajama pant jeans. I was squeezing into a size 12 and wearing spanx everyday. (best invention on the planet!)
Eric finally came home and we were living in WA for literally two months and then we moved to North Carolina! As you can see our lives are literally like a circus we never know what we are doing or where we will be living! This meant more travel, more hotels, and literally eating out 3x a day because we weren’t going to have a kitchen in the hotel.
After we moved into our new house in North Carolina and got settled and thankfully didn’t have to eat out for every meal is when I really started to take advantage of the amazing weather here. I ran more and more, but when I started even though I had lost weight I couldn’t run up the hill in our development without the stroller. Little by little I kept pushing myself. I would run then walk and run and walk for at least 30 mins. Finally after about a month of being consistent with my workouts I could run for 30 mins without stopping. Then I was running with the stroller and really starting to enjoy running again and the weight was dropping off.
I was consistently tracking everything that I ate, good or bad with My Fitness Pal and logging the calories I was burning with my heart rate monitor. I use a Polar heart rate monitor so there is no guessing how many calories I was burning. This is so important because when you use a machine at the gym or even a running app it just shows you what the average person should burn and doesn’t take into account your age, weight, and personal heart rate. I was definitely over estimating my calorie burn before I got this watch and it really opened up my eyes. I started to loose about 2lbs per week for the duration of the summer. I comfortably fit into my 12’s and was feeling a lot better. I then decided I was going to go back to being a Pescitarian where you only eat fish and dairy but no meat or poultry.
After I stopped eating meat and continued to run and use MyFitness Pal I was consistently hitting my goal weights that I was setting for myself. Once I was under 170, then I set it for 160 and so on. This way it didn’t seem like the number was too big to accomplish. Then over the summer my friends from Highschool signed up for the Philly marathon and I was so proud and inspired that I got my sister to sign up with me for the Half. Then I started my training plan with exactly 12 weeks to train. It was perfect it took me right through Thanksgiving and I didn’t gain my typical holiday 15lbs!
Now that its getting colder here in NC I have been loving hot yoga, and workout videos that I find on YouTube. I haven’t been to a gym in months because I workout with the baby or while she naps and I am in better shape than when I went to the gym everyday.
As of today I am at a solid 95lbs lost and could not be more excited and proud of myself. I feel like a new person my old clothes are actually getting big on me and I feel fit which has been my goal all along. As of the new year I set a goal to try to be Vegan for 21 days I am on day 3 and feeling great. Personally I just feel so much better when I don’t eat meat so this was a gradual transition for me. I am still logging everything that I eat to make sure that I stay on track. I am still not at my goal weight but I am getting closer everyday!
I am still in shock after going through a years worth of pictures how first of all I let myself get that overweight, but it didn’t happen over night and it took me over a year to get the majority of it off. Secondly how amazing the human body is and the changes that it is capable of, if I can do this anyone can. I didn’t take any weird supplements or go on any crazy fad diet, just healthy eating, body weight exercises, and tracking calories.
The smallest changes will help everyday towards the bigger picture. At my biggest I literally thought that I would never run again and now I run all the time and completed my first half marathon! Your body is capable of greatness its just getting your head to believe it was my biggest problem.
Anything is possible you just have to put the work in, an hour a day and a healthy diet and you can do anything!
I have never eaten more squash before in my life than I have this Fall! It has quickly become one of my fave foods to eat because it’s delicious and so versatile. You can do so many different things with squash and it is so healthy for you!
This recipe in particular is great because you can tailor it to your taste buds and it got my husbands seal of approval which is difficult when it comes to veggies! I made two different versions like I do with most of our dinners, one with meat and one without. Another reason I love this recipe is that it allows you to use your left overs but feels like a brand new meal. You could literally use any combination of veggies or substitute the chicken for ground turkey or beef.
1/3c Cooked Chicken Breast
1/4c Baby Spinach
1/4c Left-over Rice or Quinoa
2T Italian Bread Crumb
1/4c Grated Cheese
1T Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/4c Baby Spinach
1/4c Mini Bella Mushrooms
1/4c Left over Rice or Quinoa
1T Italian Bread Crumbs
2T Grated Cheese
1T Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Slice your acorn squash in half scoop the seeds out
Spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides
Place acorn squash orange side down on a baking tray and cook for about 25 minutes
In a bowl combine the ingredients that you want to stuff your squash with (*save some of the grated cheese to top at the end)
Take a pair of kitchen scissors and cut everything up so that you have smaller pieces which will make it easier to fit everything into the squash
After 25 minutes take the squash out of the oven and carefully flip over
Fill squash with your chicken or veggie mixture and top with the grated cheese and place back in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown
I love this meal so much it is super filling and nutritious, I also made a piece of tilapia to go along with my veggie version and it was great! You could also use shrimp to stuff into a veggie version which I have tried before and that was really good too!
So as you can imagine we had a lot of veggies left from our usual box and after a while it gets kinda hard to come up with new ways of using them so that you don’t get bored. This week I decided to come up with some type of veggie soup with the greens that we had. I have never had collard greens before and wasn’t quite sure how to cook them after consulting with mom-mom on how she ate them I decided to try a soup.
Then I just looked in my fridge and cabinet to see what I had and basically threw it all together and it seriously turned out delish! This is so easy to make and is great for the cooler Fall days. The best part is that you can eat what you want and then I put the rest in individual portions in the freezer so that I can just take it out when I want to eat it and not feel like we have to eat a gallon of soup in one week.
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
2 Cans Veggie Broth
1 Bunch Collard Greens
1/2 Butternut Squash
1/2 Red Onion
1.5 t Minced Garlic
1.5 T Olive Oil
1.5c Whole Grain Pasta
Red Pepper Flakes, Salt, Ground Pepper, Italian Seasoning, & Celery Salt to taste
1. Grab a large sauce pot and sauté your onion, garlic, and seasonings with the olive oil
2. Add butternut squash and let cook for a few minutes
3. Add all of your liquids and bring to a boil
4. Add in your chopped collard or green of choice, pick something hardy so that it doesn’t cook into nothing.
5. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for 20 minutes, then add in your pasta and let cook for another 20 minutes. (You could also cook your pasta separately and then add it as you serve the soup)
I mentioned in a previous post that we have been subscribing to our local farm to table program and we get tons of fresh veggies every week one very easy way to make them is to just cube everything up and roast it in the oven until they are golden brown or tender. I love doing this because I can throw them in and forget about them for like 30 minutes and finish doing other things or concentrate on the rest of dinner. I usually always cook everything on the stove top but this is so much easier and a super easy clean up if you use foil on your pan you just throw it out with no mess!
The great thing about roasting veggies is that it pretty much works for any type of veggie or you can combine them together which I love doing. This is a great way to eat tons of different colors and eat healthy. Obviously you can pair these with anything from fish to steak and they always taste amazing even if you just use salt and pepper. The combination of flavors are endless!
This recipe is so delicious and full credit for it goes to my youngest sister Kelsey! She made this for me the first time about a year ago and I can’t get enough of it! It is a super simple meal to make but it is so delicious! I was so surprised when she first made it for us, I had never really seen her cook before and it seriously is so amazing, she did a great job!
When I was at the grocery store I was in search of fresh veggies that we haven’t tried before. I came across purple potatoes and this really cool zebra striped eggplant! I thought that they looked beautiful and they were delicious as well! They both tasted just like the normal versions but its fun to switch it up every now and then!
The first step would be to wash your veggies and then slice up the eggplant into equal sized slices so that they cook evenly. Then pre-heat your oven, dip each slice into an egg white and then bread with Italian breadcrumb. Place slices on a baking sheet and bake for ten minutes. At the ten minute mark take the tray out and flip each slice and continue baking for ten more minutes. When the second ten minutes are up take out the eggplant and start to assemble the slices with tomato sauce and cheese and then place back in the oven at 400 degrees and wait for the cheese to get nice and bubbly! Once the cheese melts your are all done! You can serve this with whole grain pasta or a fresh salad.
When I made this I measured everything out to my specific calorie needs for the day so I used a 1/2 cup of sauce and 1/4 c of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 c of the breadcrumbs. This is a delicious meal and even though I didn’t eat it with pasta I was so full! The recipe will be to feed 2-3 but you can make as much as you want!
I used Rao’s Marinara Sauce which my sister insist upon using with this recipe! If you don’t want to make your own sauce and want something really quick that you can pick up at most grocery stores. I highly recommend this sauce it is so delicious and great regular pasta and we even make homemade pizzas with it!
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