Some Healthy Favorites

Hi friends and welcome to 2020!!!  We made it another decade!!!  Kinda crazy huh!  Though, I’m never going to be the person who sees age or thinks about how long a decade actually is.  All I know is that it’s going to happen whether we like it or not and I’m thankful.  And, also, though I hate the winter and despise January because of being so dark and cold, I do love the thought of an empty canvas and all the possibilities.

Of course one thing that everyone focuses on for the New Year is weight loss.  I too, am this year.  The past couple years I’ve adopted healthier habits, so my goals weren’t really to drop a bunch of weight or attain new healthier habits.  This year though, or at least my goal by the end of April/beginning of May is to drop 8-10 pounds.  I haven’t really figured out a good way to do that yet, but I’m working on it; starting with eating less and trying to incorporate more green into my diet.  I love salads, but at the most, I’m eating one a day which I’m sure is only a quarter of the greens I should be consuming.  I do have a few staples that I always go to when wanting to drop some weight though and I plan on incorporating those into whatever I decide to do.

Some of my favorite healthy foods and snacks:

Zone Perfect bars:  I wish I could say this was an ad, but it’s not.  Haha.  I’ve been eating these since I was 19 and running from class to class on my college campus with no time for lunch.  Brock even loves them, which is a miracle in itself, OK?!  I like them because they have a higher protein count and keep things pretty close to the macros I like to aim for everyday (40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fat).  My favorite flavors are the fudge graham, salted chocolate caramel and dark chocolate almond.  These can be found just about anywhere now.  Target, Kroger, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme, etc.

Eggs/Toast/Strawberries/Halos:  This is pretty much my go-to weekend breakfast all year long, but occasionally I’ll have enough time to make it during the week before jetting off to the office.  2 eggs over medium (if you need to kick it up a notch with flavor, try using the Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning on them!), 1-2 pieces of toast (I use Dave’s Killer thin sliced bread, 70 cals a slice) with no butter and only a natural fruit spread with low sugar, and a cup of strawberries and 1 halo.  Delish!  In the summertime I swap watermelon and fresh blackberries for the halo.

Fab Four Smoothie (Blueberry Muffin flavor): I use to ALWAYS start my day during the week with one of these.  I’ve gotten away from it, come back to it, and gotten away from it again.  When I get into the habit of having them, I don’t stop, because they are so good and so filling.  Here’s the recipe: 1/3 frozen organic blueberries, 2 cups unsweetened vanilla organic almond milk (I use Califia) 2 scoops of Primal Kitchen vanilla coconut collagen protein, 1-2 tablespoons of creamy almond butter with no sugar added (I use Barney Butter…so good and no oil on top!) 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, and a handful of organic spinach.  Blend for about 30 seconds (I have a nutri-bullet and it works perfectly) and enjoy!  If you do not use frozen berries, you will need to sub some ice cubes.  This will keep you full at least an hour longer than any “normal” breakfast.  PS, there are tons of flavors out there for these!  This has just always been my go-to.  You can google them, or find them on Pinterest under Kelly LeVeque.  Most of the ingredients I purchase at Kroger and the protein/collagen powder I order on Amazon.

Baked chicken tenders with panko bread crumbs and baked broccoli: I use the big bag of Tyson tenders and bake them for 10 minutes (they come frozen), then take them out, add some panko breadcrumbs to the top of them with some sea salt and a couple other seasonings, and occasionally I’ll add a LITTLE parmesan cheese, continue to bake for 30-35 minutes.  Baked broccoli….yes..baked.  I use the big bag of Birdseye frozen broccoli.  Use a big cookie or pizza sheet, cover in parchment paper or aluminum foil, spray lightly with organic cooking spray (preferably olive oil) spread the broccoli out and cover it with sea salt.  Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.  It’s cooked but crispy on the edges.  Also, I use more sea salt than most.  I have very low BP and using extra salt is not an issue for me, you may want to sub some of the salt with other seasonings like Mrs Dash or even sprinkle with a reduced fat cheese before baking.

So Delicious frozen almond milk bars:  These are so good and my go-to sweet snack in the evening after dinner.  I try to stay away from cow’s milk when I can, so almond milk is usually my go-to.  These mocha swirl bars are sooooooooo yummy!  180 calories.

100 calorie packs of cashews and pistachios:  I try to stay away from peanuts because my body is sensitive to them.  Not the easiest task considering I used to travel with my own jar of peanuts as a snack if I was hungry between classes in college.  Kroger actually has 100 calorie packs of almonds, cashews and pistachios in their organic section now.  Sometimes I mix these with the organic dried strawberries and cherries to kick the flavor up a bit.

Sargento Balanced Breaks: Now, let me preface this.  I try to stay away from cow’s milk, so typically I only will eat a few of the cheese cubes (usually 3) and then eat the fruit/nut blend.  Basically I’m too lazy to make my own fruit and nut blend, so I grab what’s easy and portioned out.  Sorry, not sorry.  I also love that I can get different combos that DON’T include peanuts.  The Balanced Breakfast Breaks are good too!

Healthy Choice Power Bowls Italian Chicken and Peppers:  Alright, yes, it’s processed.  I get it.  But it is soooo good and so spicy and really low in carbs and high in protein, and also….quinoa. 🙂

Nature’s Path Blueberry Cinnamon Flax Oatmeal:  I always add fresh blueberries to this and sometimes a little extra cinnamon.  So good!

Atkins Ham and Cheese Omelets:  This is an exception for avoiding cow’s milk.  I ONLY eat these when I’m running really far behind of a morning and need something that takes 2 minutes or less.  I pick half the ham out of it because I’m not a huge pork person, but I am a big omelet person.  The eggs actually taste good that they use and it’s very high in protein.  Sometimes you have to do the easy thing.  I just don’t make it a habit to regularly have these.  Plus, there’s a reason I avoid cow’s milk when I can if you’re picking up what I’m putting down haha.

There ya have it!  Those are the staples I always have to have handy.  Literally, these things are always available at our house.  Some of them may not be 100% clean or preservative or dairy free, but they are all useful in different situations.  Obviously I would love for this list to be longer, and “cleaner” than it is, but hey….let’s not forget, I have an 11 year old and a 6 year old, I work 40+ hours a week, I’m trying to work out, have therapy once a week, write for this blog and also do some influencing on the side along with Rodan & Fields.  My schedule allows for….well, only so much haha.

What are some of the staples you always have handy in your home?  What are your favorite recipes?

Drop them down below in my comments!!

Happy Monday all!!!!!  Let’s get this!

xoxoxox

 

 

 

Friday Five!

Happy Friday, loves!!

Today I’m sharing my five favorite apps I can’t be without!

1. Instagram

I mean…did it happen if you didn’t document it on the ‘gram? I’ve always been more of an IG girl than FB. Sorry FB, but all the forwarded jokes and messages are just clutter to me. I use FB to connect and stay in touch with friends and family, of course, but I prefer the look and ease of Instagram. Plus, pictures. Lots of pictures.

2. Target Cartwheel

Do you guys have this downloaded? I’m assuming all of my readers are Target shoppers, since we are friends, right? I’ve had this app since it first became available. Now they also have Target Circle, which is connected to your Target account just like Cartwheel! All I know is when I check out via store or online checkout, I ALWAYS have a credit to apply to my total, along with my Cartwheel offers. Target just keeps getting better!

3. MyFitnessPal

I’m a tad obsessed with numbers. I mean, just a tad. By a tad, I mean a lot! I wear a FitBit 24-7. (Santa, please bring me an Apple Watch for Christmas so I can jump into the 21st century with the rest of the world, mmmmk). My FitBit is connected to MyFitnessPal, so all my workouts and steps transfer over from FitBit to MFP so I can see how many calories I can consume without turning into a double wide. I log all my calories. I know some people feel negatively about logging calories but it helps me see what I’m working with. MFP keeps me enlightened on what my macros are all day long so I know when to add more protein or cut back on fats. It’s very helpful!

4. Calm

How many of you struggle with just finding 5 minutes in the day to take a freaking breath? Last summer I downloaded this app to help with my anxiety. Little did I know that I would be unlocking this GINORMOUS portable resource of so much goodness! I actually love it so much that I pay the 60.00 per year for the full version. Don’t worry though, the free version has access to a ton of meditations, breathing exercises, music and even sleep stories. My anxiety was so major that I wanted the in depth meditation series’s. Now that my anxiety is semi under control, I use this app on road trips when get anxious or if I ever feel a feeling of panic start to come on. It’s pretty amazing!

5. Chick Fil-A One App/Starbucks

Like how I combined these two? I cheated since I technically have 6 apps here, but these are the two restaurant apps that I feel offer the best rewards and give back the most to their customers! Also, these are really the only places I go if I’m eating out haha. My favorite days are when I can get a free coffee and free medium fruit salad at Starbucks and Chick Fil-A, respectively. 😊. These apps are definitely worth the download!! You may actually be losing money if you don’t have them.

Alright guys! That’s all I have for today!!! What are your favorite apps and should I download them??

Have a great weekend!!!!

Xoxox

Mary

Food Swaps You Should Make Now (Especially if you have kids)

Let’s get this out of the way shall we? I’m not a dietician, though I would love to be. I’m not a doctor, but I am a mom and I feel like that gives me some credibility. Moms are superhuman, after all.

Typically, I place the most importance on buying organic/clean dairy, produce and meat. No one eats perfect but I get all “mama bear” when our kids are involved. If I can do my part and help prevent even a chance of them getting a terrible disease by spending a few more dollars at the grocery store, then you bet your mom jeans wearing behind that I’m gonna.

If you are not doing this already, please make these simple swaps soon:

Meats:

Packaged beef, chicken and lunch meat:

Beef, Chicken and lunch meat Swap: Buy grass fed, no antibiotic/no hormone beef, chicken and lunch meat. Yes, it will cost you a few more dollars, but you won’t be packing your body full of carcinogens, caramel colors and genetically modified meats.

Lunchables and Hot Dogs: PITCH THE LUNCHABLES. There is not one thing that is sustainable in that package. The drinks are sugar, the “meat” is processed, as is the cheese and the crackers and dessert are pretty much flavored chemicals. I mean, I get it…I love an oreo every now and then, but most kids get plenty of sugar throughout the day from other sources and don’t need dessert at every meal.

Lunchable Swap: Make your own. Brock and I give our kiddos pieces of organic lunch meat and deli cheeses (also organic) with fresh fruit and veggie stix/wheat crackers.

Regular pork/beef/chicken hot dogs (can someone please not tell me what By-Product is?) are HORRIBLE for kids to consume. They are full of nitrates and who knows what else. There has been research done to show that if a child eats 12 hot dogs a month, their risk of leukemia is 9 times greater. 12 hot dogs sounds like a lot, until you have kids, and realize that hot dogs are, regardless of what anyone thinks, a meal fit for a king to a child.

Hot Dog Swap: Buy nitrate free, organic beef or chicken hot dogs. They taste amazing and they are guilt free (health wise), so when your child wants a hot dog, you can feel good about giving them one.

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Dairy:

Milk Swap: For the love of all that is good and pure, buy organic! Will it be perfect, and 100% straight from the cow? Of course not, but it’s better than pumping your kids full of hormones and steroids. Have you seen the pictures of middle school girls today, as compared to when we were in middle school? There’s a reason they need bras at age 9. Just sayin.

Kids Yogurt Swap: Buy organic, but make sure you find a kind that still has added probiotics and live cultures. Strong immune systems start in the gut and kids need those probiotics to build a strong defense against school/daycare germs.

Adult Yogurt Swap: The main thing I look for when purchasing yogurt for myself is artificial sweeteners. I buy organic for the kids, but since I don’t consume much yogurt, my main concern is staying away from sweeteners like aspartame and sucrulose –aka Splenda. Some of my go-to brands are Fage 0% or 2% with cherry and mixed berry. I also occasionally buy Dannon Oikos greek yogurt or Chobani.

Cheese: I tend to not be as strict on cheese, but I refuse to buy the American cheese slices. People—hear me when I say it’s not real cheese. It even says on the package “Processed cheese product.” Product, NOT cheese. Sorry fake cheese lovers, but Velveeta falls into the same category. When you hold a lighter under it, it doesn’t even melt…but it does turn black. Imagine what it’s doing to your digestive tract. Its crazy and you should stay away. If you aren’t sure what real cheese should taste like, put fresh Gouda or brie on a sandwich, or bake it. You can thank me later. If you are lactose intolerant or trying to avoid dairy, goat cheese is an excellent alternative and so good!

Cheese Swap: I buy simple truth organic cheese straight from the Kroger deli, Horizon organic cheese string cheese and Sargento naturals (I understand that term is used very loosely) deli cheese slices. At least it melts…and tastes like cheese. I personally use a lot of feta cheese myself. I buy the Athenos fat free or tomato and basil flavor. Oh and as far as shredded cheese goes, we don’t use a ton, but generally I’m ok with the Kroger 2% sharp cheddar as long as it smells fresh.

Produce:

You don’t always have to buy organic fruits and veggies. In fact, I’m beginning to learn that some of the frozen fruits and veggies are the smartest way to go. In case you haven’t heard about these lists, here are what most consider the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” in regards to produce.

Dirty Dozen: Consider buying these items organic:

-Apples

-Strawberries

-Grapes

-Celery

-Peaches

-Spinach

-Bell Peppers

-Nectarines

-Cucumbers

-Tomatoes

-Snap Peas

-Potatoes

(Hot Peppers and Blueberries are included as add ons)

Clean 15: Items that are grown safer and do not need to be organic:

-Avocados

-Sweet Corn

-Pineapples

-Cabbage

-Sweet Peas (Frozen)

-Onions

-Asparagus

-Mangoes

-Papayas

-Kiwi

-Eggplant

-Grapefruit

-Cantaloupe

-Cauliflower

-Sweet Potatoes

I personally will only buy organic in these items: raspberries, strawberries, bananas, apples, blueberries and kiwi. This is because the kids eat so many of them and half of the time Brayden gets the container out of the fridge and eats them right out of the box. I’m not about to tell him he can’t eat them until I’ve washed everything because that will deter him from eating them. Buying organic makes me feel a little more at ease if the kids get to the fruit before I do!

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Next on my to-do list: getting back into the habit of packing Brayden’s lunch again. I know he likes to buy it at school because it’s the “cool” thing to do, but I know for a fact that the foods they are serving aren’t the best quality. At first I thought it was great because he was getting a protein, veggie and fruit. I knew if given the choice he would choose chocolate milk for his drink, and I don’t think that’s worth the battle to fight. However, the past few weeks I’ve been asking him what his veggies and fruits consisted of and I hear things like “applesauce with cinnamon, goldfish crackers, pineapple with juice and lots of carrots and corn.” He doesn’t like carrots (he gets it honestly) so he always chooses the goldfish and corn. And cinnamon applesauce? Oy! I never buy that for the house. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had that since I had my wisdom teeth removed when I was 19!

Nutrition is something I feel passionately about. Because of that, you would think I would be 20 pounds lighter and never have meals out, or never go over 1300 calories a day. Well, sometimes too much knowledge can work against you too. Knowing what I need to do also allows me to know what the max calorie allotment I can handle before I start to gain. I’m a little more than stubborn and need to work through this.

I truly hope this list helped open some eyes about foods that families consume everyday. No meal is ever going to be absolutely perfect and there are lots of ways to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. I tend to focus on the whole food side of nutrition and not so much “dieting”. Just because you are skinny from dieting, does not mean you are healthy. What we put into our bodies everyday is like a fuel to keep us working properly and healthy. It’s extremely important.

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I’ll conclude with one of my favorite scriptures from the Bible; which really puts a healthy lifestyle into perspective:

PS.139 13-16

For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the parts of the Earth.  Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.  And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet, there were none of them.

Treat your body, and your families’ bodies the way He wants you to treat them.

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