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Friday, July 11, 2014

Taco….Friday

Okay, if you are a mom of small kids (especially boys) you may think of Legos every time you hear Taco Tuesday. I know I will. We definitely incorporated Taco Tuesday into our weekly routine at our place, because its quick, easy, and we all love tacos or some variation of them! Pleasing 5 people is tough stuff, yo!

Bonus: my famous salsa recipe is in this post too. Woot!

So, every so often I make this fabulous turkey taco meat (recipe I use, here)* and then I have my yummy and HUGE taco salad while my family noshes on nachos, quesadillas, tacos, etc. *feel free to season your taco meat however you like, this is just the recipe I like to use instead of a seasoning packet so my macros are based on this.


Okay, so this is how I eat my taco salad and I will break down the macros as the end. Super easy. The leftover meat is used for more taco salads at lunches throughout the week or in wraps, etc.

Step 1) make taco meat (or reheat)
Step 2) Chop up lettuce. For me, one head of lettuce = 3 salads
Step 3) Preheat oven to 350 or turn on the broiler. Measure out 1 serving (28g) 2% shredded mexican blend cheese. Measure out 1 serving (28g) tortilla chips. Foil line a pan and melt cheese on chips.
Step 4) Top lettuce with chips, then meat, then salsa, sour cream or greek yogurt - whatever you want! Just make sure you track it!

Here is what I had on my taco salad:

2 cups lettuce, 1 serving turkey taco meat ( mine was made with 93/7 meat), Aldi's Tortilla chips (1 oz or 28g), Aldi Fit & Active 2% Mexican Blend Cheese (1oz or 28 g), my homemade salsa (1 serving) and 2oz geek yogurt (because I've gotten used to it and I prefer it now to sour cream on my tacos, nachos, salads, etc - but you can go sour cream if that's what works for you!)

Macros: 490 calories/44g Carbs/22g fat/42g protein

Okay and for the bonus - here is my salsa recipe. If you make this recipe, please use your food scale to weigh it so you can figure out your own portions/serving sizes. This is a good habit to get into so you have a better idea of how your recipe actually lines up macro wise. Every time I make a recipe I tweak it in MFP because portion wise it is always different!

2 cans rotel (milk or spicy, whatever you want!)
8-10 roma tomatoes
1-2 tsp minced garlic (to taste!)
1-2 tsp salt (to taste)
lime juice to taste (I squeeze it so I have no idea how many tbs)
cilantro to taste

measure & blend those ingredients together in a blender or food processor and you are good to go!!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

My favorite homemade and store bought protein bars!

Okay, so I've kindof fallen off the blogging wagon for a little while. I was all "this is so exciting and I'm going to become a blogger!!" and then real life happened. My husband ended up getting this amazing career opportunity (amazing for him-us-everybody wins!!) which (and most of y'all will think I'm crazy for saying this) I am SO excited about because our little family will have the opportunity to move all of the country for the next two years. I might need a little hobby. I think keeping this blog up might be just what I need to stay motivated and encourage others on their fitness journey. Part of my hope is to be certified as a personal trainer in the next 6 months! Woot woot!! Let's get this party started!!

I've had a lot of friends request my favorite recipes, so let's start with protein bars:

My absolute (for carb lovers and when you need to fill out those carb macros - which for me is often since I eat my protein early and often throughout the day)

Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Protein bars

Another absolute favorite: (last time I made it in muffin tins and while it turned out it was harder spreading the chocolate. These are SO good I think of them as candy so I don't overeat…but it has happened!) I can't wait to try more of her recipes. She has a ton of protein bar recipes so if you try one and its a hit, please let me know!

No bake Snickers protein bars

And here I am going to link you to the main recipe page for Jamie Eason's Livefit recipes. I have made almost all of them and they are great. These protein bars are good, but more like a cake consistency. I have made the pumpkin, chocolate, lemon, and cinnamon swirl bread. I haven't tried the carrot or crispy honey, but I am sure they are yummy as well.

Livefit Recipes

So those are the homemade protein bars that are in rotation at my house. As for store bought I LOVE Quest bars. Oh dear, I just wish they weren't SO in demand and so expensive! They are on sale at GNC right now (or were when I was there last week) at buy 3 get 1 free. These are my fav flavors in order of preference (all the ones I have tried so far):

-cookies & cream (honestly didn't think I would like these but they.are.amazing.)
-cinnamon roll
-chocolate chip cookie dough
-white chocolate raspberry
-chocolate brownie
-chocolate chunk cookie? (can't remember the name)
-cashew coconut
-banana nut muffin (this has a strong fake banana taste that sometimes I go for…and sometimes not)


I also really like (Aldi's peanut butter chocolate protein bars - 180 calories with (I think) 25 carbs, 6g fat, and 10g protein. They are a cheaper quick alternative, but I try as much as possible to treat these like candy bars and not eat them super often. 


What is your favorite protein bar? Any recipes I should try?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

is this for me?

Blogging.

Y'all I'm sold on the whole IIFYM/Flexible dieting (I hate the way we use that word-diet) anyways, I'm totally sold on knowing how to fuel my body to get the results I desire.

I just go back and forth on the whole blogging motivation front.

Maybe its because my husband has been working so much and I've been alone with my 3 kids. Maybe its because our whole life is kind of up in the air right now (potential career change involving a move for our family-very exciting and complicated). Or insecurity in putting myself "out there". Maybe its a combo of so many of those things.

So I'm sorry if you've tuned in and I haven't been around to share with you.

The funny thing is, I've found some AMAZING new recipes lately that I just can't keep to myself. I also MAJORLY inhaled half a package of cookie dough last week when someone left it in our fridge. I can definitely tell you, I cannot be trusted with sugar. I can have it in very small increments and with people around but when I'm by myself….if I take that first bite…its ALL down hill form there.

Yikes.

Okay, so here I am blogging tonight. We will see what happens, but I sure would love some feedback to put a little steam in my engine! Its getting a little lonely over here!

Do you do IIFYM? Does it work for you? What does your workout routine look like? Do you know what IIFYM is? Should I write a post about that?



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chocolate Protein Mug Cake

This is my absolute favorite dessert for the past…4 months. I have made several mug cake recipes online and finally arrived at this one. It really is a GREAT recipe, but I didn't have the protein powder she used, and when I made it, it definitely made two WHOPPING servings!

I had to use what I hand, so this is my version of the recipe (only tweaked a tiny bit):

seen here with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB & two graham crackers stuffed with light whipped cream &  PB 


3 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Scoop Optimum Nutrition Extreme Milk Chocolate Protein Powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
dash of salt
2 tbs unsweetened almond milk
2 tbs plain greek yogurt
1 egg white

Mix all ingredients together and split between two lightly greased mugs. I microwave them for about 1 minute and they are ready to go!

I pop them out and serve with 1-2tbs Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams! (and often a scoop of Edy's slow churned Ice Cream or a Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich.

With my ingredients, the macros come to: 89 calories, 6g carbs, 2g fat, 16g protein!


Or you could eat both, but I HAVE to have mine with some ice cream. I will often make two, and save one in the fridge for the next day or even (gasp!) breakfast! I just reheat for 30 sec in the microwave.

If you try this, I would love to hear what you think. My mom wasn't a fan, but she skipped on the ice cream and pb. I think these all go together so nicely. :)

Carbs After Dark

So there is this misconception going around that if you want to lose fat, get ripped, etc. you shouldn't eat after 5pm or 7pm or whatever….

Do you know why?

What time are you going to bed?

If you're like me, you probably don't go to bed before 9pm, right? So if you subscribe to this mentality and you eat your last meal before (even) 7pm and then you go to bed around 10pm…well, then basically you don't feed your body until what, 7am? Maybe earlier, but still. Your body is going without food for an awful long time. To what end?

I dare you to google search "Carbs After Dark" and see some of the top posts that pop up. I started it myself months ago and guess what, it works! I tend to be a little bit of a hoarder when it comes to my macros during the day. I love to eat all my lean proteins, veggies, fruit, etc during the day and I save my peanut butter (fats) and carby carbity carbs for night. In fact, I even started making myself wait until 9pm to have my last meal of the day - which is usually a flex bowl (will explain this more in depth later) filled with a dessert I've earned. My desserts are a mix of protein, carbs, and fat of course, but they tend to lean on the fattier/carbier side as far as my meals go.

I look forward to the yummy treats I know I am going to get to eat later in the evening. It also helps to motivate me to WORK HARDER during my workouts! Of course, I'm a bit of an anomaly in that I LOVE working out…and especially cardio (most days, I do have some I-can't-get-it-together-and-I-want-to-lay-around-and-binge-eat-buffalo-wings-and-ice-cream-days). I have been known to bust out extra cardio just so I can eat extra ridiculous desserts. I'm not saying they are deep fried cheesecake or anything, but I eat pretty clean all day to incorporate a few treats in my evening desserts. That's where the IIFYM comes into play in my lifestyle.

MY TOP 2 GO TO #CARBSafterDARK meals:

1) Chocolate protein mug cake + SkinnyCow Ice Cream Sandwich + Dark Chocolate Dreams PB (PB&Co)

2) SkinnyCow Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwich + Pan Fried Apples + Regular Natural PB


Of course, when I'm filling out my macros I also enjoy these treats here and there:

Amazing Flour-less Brownies (I make this recipe and pour it into a mini muffin pan to increase the serving size AND I do not add the semisweet chocolates. Instead I stick a couple chocolates or Reese's Pieces on top also bringing down the sugary carb/fat content) **this recipe is AMAZING. Don't hate. Try it before you turn your nose up. I have served them MANY times without people having any idea what was inside. They loved them. Every time.

Low-Fat Rice Krispy Treats Again, another Skinnytaste recipe. If you do not know Gina, you should get to know her and her site. She is one of my all time favorites in the recipe department. If someone asked me, "If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, past or present" Gina would definitely make the top 5.

I will also say if I am low on protein for the day I will definitely drink a Casein Protein Shake from ON. I would much rather make it a fun smoothie, but I try to only do this if I can afford it with the extra carbs and yummy goodness I put inside!

So my take on carbs after dark is obviously GO FOR IT!


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What I eat - an explanation of how I view food, nutrition, fueling my body for workouts, etc

It is 4:55am and I have already been up 25 minutes. Ahhhh!!! I'm going to workout at 5:30 this morning so I thought I would start working on this post since I know its going to be a big one. The last couple of months people have been asking me all the time, "What do you do to look like that?" and "what do you eat?" Exercise-wise lifting weights has been the absolute best thing I have ever done to shape my body. Cardio has helped to burn fat, but muscle helps a ton in this area too. Food has been the largest determinant of my weight, muscle tone, athletic ability, and obviously, composition.

I eat breakfast (and a pre breakfast meal on days like today when I'm getting up super early), sometimes a post workout protein shake, lunch, a snack in the afternoons (usually), dinner, and a snack before bed. Do you have to? No, what you eat and when you eat is completely up to you, but I have found this works for me, so this is what I'm going to do! The size of my meals depend on my goals and workouts but for now, here is how it goes.


I eat to fuel my body. 

I eat foods that I know will give it the proper nutrients to fuel my body for the stress I put on it. Right now 30% of my diet is protein. I need at least this much protein to help build/retain muscle I have worked so hard on! Also, for every pound of muscle you add to your body you are going to burn a little more fat while retaining it! Bonus. Look good and able to eat more. Yes, I like that. I eat carbs! Wait. Hold the phone. Carbs? Yes, Carbohydrates are important to fuel my workouts, keep me sane, and they aid in building muscle! So, 40% of my diet consists of carbs. For the other 30% you had better believe that I include fat. For me, most of the fat in my diet is acquired here and there in the foods I eat. I can tell you there are 6g of fat in a serving of the cottage cheese I like, about 13g of fat in the peanut butter I eat every. day. How do I even know these numbers? Because over the last many months I have started to play what I think of as a game/experiment with my body where I track what I eat through myfitnesspal and see how it affects my body. Seriously, you can call it calorie counting or whatever you want (I prefer not to because it takes me less than a minute each day and I'm definitely not doing the hard work there!) but basically if you aren't keeping track you're just guessing. Right? Doing this for any length of time will only help you figure out what your habits are, what you are actually eating and what may think you are eating and aren't.

Okay, no that we've established how I go about eating, its important you know:

I eat GOOD food. 

I do not eat bland, mild, unseasoned, force-it-down-before-I-gag food. I eat a LOT of nutrient dense, yummy COOKED meals, and I ENJOY everything I eat. Now, I am a food person. There are very few things I do not enjoy eating. You may not be like me in this area, as I am finding out many people do not enjoy some of the things I eat on a regular basis, or you may have dietary restrictions. I would say, you just have to find out what GOOD foods you can enjoy that are going to help you reach your goals. This is going to involve some time on Pinterest or googling recipes and ideas until you get a good base of ideas of what to eat or foods to try. I LOVE cooking. I love variety and new recipes and eating GOOD FOOD! This means at least one night a week I am googling and Pinteresting all sorts of new recipes! I have found that, for the most part the more nutritionally dense foods with less processing usually means the more tasty and larger volume I can eat to meet my nutritional goals.

I keep track. 

I mentioned before that I use myfitnesspal as a tool to keep track of what I eat. I believe this is invaluable for many reasons.

1) I see what I eat.
2) I see how certain foods affect me.
3) I am able to keep track of the calories and macronutrient ratios of my foods.
4) I can tweak said macronutrient goals and tweak my diet to meet those goals.
5) I have access to reports over time

For someone like me, that loves lists and keeping track of things, data, etc. I LOVE this. It may feel constricting for some of you, if so then you just have to find what works for you. This is all just how I do things. For example, MFP has a feature that tells you every day you've logged in how many days in a row it has been. That actually motivates me to get on there and log in! For others it may not at all. The  longer I make this a habit the more I am able to see just how the food I eat helps or hinders me. I am able to make small changes and over time see how they add up to big results.

So, what foods do I eat? I will do a post later on my favorite recipes but for now, here is what I enjoy eating pretty often:

Breakfast foods I enjoy most often:  
1 egg, and 1-3 egg whites scrambles (depending on macro needs for the day)
Ezekiel Raisin bread or other sprouted grain bread (Trader Joe's is another favorite brand of mine)
Protein Waffles (recipe from Busy But Healthy) + 1tbs peanut butter
MY version of a Reeses Cup Milkshake that is actually a Protein Smoothie (recipe to come)
Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie
1% Milkfat Cottage Cheese
Fruit (usually strawberries in my cottage cheese or frozen bananas in my smoothie)
Omelets (egg white or only one whole egg)
Oats or homemade Oatmeal bars
Breakfast Cookies
Flour-less mini muffin Brownies
Mini quiches
Crustless quiche (usually spinach/mushroom/feta)
Low-fat chocolate chip mini Zucchini Loaf

Lunches: 
HUGE Taco Salad with leftover turkey taco meat (this happens A LOT)
Chicken wraps (there are so MANY ways to eat this - with hummus, peppers, buffalo chicken, bbq chicken, veggies, greek wrap, etc. I will do a post on my wraps at some point)
Pregrilled Chicken, with Veggies, and oven Sweet Potato Fries
Tilapia + sides
Buffalo Tuna Patties + sides
Mini Turkey Meatloaf
Asian Turkey Meatballs + rice & veggies
LEFTOVERS (seriously I eat mostly leftovers for lunch every day. SO whatever you see in the dinner category usually ends up here) 

**sides are usually roasted or steamed veggies, trader joe's harvest blends, couscous (israeli is my fav) sometimes greek yogurt, banana, orange, or whatever I feel like for the day.

Dinners: 
Mini Meatloafs (Turkey Meatloaf made in mini loaf pan for easy reheating, etc)
Asian Turkey Meatballs
Chicken Enchiladas
Oven Baked Fajitas
Grilled Chicken
Buffalo Lime Grilled Chicken
Chicken Parmesan (panko breaded and baked, very yummy and healthier version)
Turkey Bruschetta Burgers
Chicken Pineapple, Pepper, and RIce Thai Stir Fry
Spinach & Feta Crustless Quiche
Greek Salad w/Chicken
Chicken Pear Gorgonzola Salad
Shrimp & Watermelon Salad
Shrimp Kabobs + Sides
Cajun Chicken Pasta Stir Fry
BBQ Chicken Roll Ups
Tilapia + sides
Fish Tacos
Turkey Taco Salad
Piccadillo (Crock Pot)
Turkey Taco Salad Roll Ups
White Bean Chicken Chili
Turkey Chili
Taco Turkey Chili
Lentil Soup (chicken Lentil Soup, Red Lentil Soup)
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Soup, Soup, Soup! (I love soup in the winter time)
Italian Turkey Penne Crock Pot Masterpiece (a family fav that requires little energy-recipe to come)
Italian Crock Pot Sloppy Joe's
Chicken Kabobs + Sides
Chicken + Roasted Veggies + Feta + Brown Rice & Balsamic Dressing combo (another family fav)
Whole Grain Spaghetti & Meatballs
(plus many more this is just what comes to mind)

Sides: 
Crispy Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Oven Roasted or Steamed Green Beans
Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts
couscous
Trader Joe's Harvest Grain Blend
Baked Potato
Baked Sweet Potato
Steamed Veggies (I buy Birdseye Steamfresh bags often for convenience)
Roasted or steamed broccoli
greek salad
strawberry salad
cucumber & tomato salad
brown rice
ETC! This is an ever expanding area (again, just what comes to mind)

Dessert (you betcha I eat dessert!): 
Chocolate Mug Cake + Ice Cream + Dark Chocolate Dreams PB
Fried Apples + Ice Cream + Natural PB
Rice Crispy Treats
Peanut butter Protein Rice Crispy Bars
Peanut butter cup protein smoothie
Flex Bowl Ice Cream Supreme
Breakfast Cookies
Chocolate PB Protein Bar (tastes like candy-NOT a protein bar)
Flour-less Brownie Bites
(+ more….)

I DO and have added these recipes into my MFP profile over time. When I make a recipe I go ahead and add everything. Then, when and if I go back to remake it, I can easily open the recipe, edit it according to serving size or tweak whatever ingredients I need to and then voila! I add it to my log for the day. This sounds labor intensive, but I promise it isn't and it gets easier over time. You just have to buckle down and do it. It will get easier, and you will get more efficient over time. Eventually the goal is to become a more intuitive eater, and KNOW how certain foods affect your body and fuel your workouts! You have to start somewhere though, right? Also, MANY of these recipes come from Skinnytaste (seriously, the BEST!!!) and the nutrition info is usually already in MFP. You can just edit these pre logged recipes according to your adjustments and then add them to your log. Try it.

I will post more on this and I will add links to recipes and recipes soon! Do you have a favorite meal or side that is healthy, filling, yummy, and works well to meet your macronutrient needs? I'm always looking for more recipes to add to my arsenal! Like I said, there are a ton of thongs we eat I didn't mention but these are some of our favorites.

I know I am new to all this but seriously - zero followers?!?! Y'all I see I had like over 500 visitors the other day! Can you add me to your reader? Let's be friends. Say hello, please! Crickets over here :)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Buffalo Tuna Patties


Okay, so I cannot take full credit for this recipe. I'm not sure if it was her own brain child or not, but my friend Kristen gave me the idea for the base and I think I just added buffalo sauce. Why buffalo sauce? Because I love it so. So much in fact that I had a coworker once tell me he thought I was harming my baby by the amount I consumed while I was pregnant. It wasn't even that spicy. Sheesh.

Here it is folks, one of my addictions. You may think this sounds crazy and all I can say is, it is crazy good. You could even put a patty on a whole wheat bun and I'm sure it would be fantastic. I just eat mine plain…I mean, drizzled with more buffalo sauce.

Ingredients:

1 packet or can (amount can be adjusted according to your macro needs) of light tuna in water
1 egg white
1/4 cup chopped onion (or leave it out-whatever! I love onion so the more the merrier to me)
2 tbs panko bread crumbs
1 tbs buffalo sauce (I usually use Sweet Baby Ray's but it can be hard to find so if I don't have it I use what I can find)

Mix all ingredient together. Spray pan on stove with olive oil. Form into two patties and pan fry on both sides until it looks nice and golden brown.

I add a tiny drizzle more buffalo sauce on top before sting and inhale while warm. Yummmmm

Pairs well with some type of veggie and sweet potato or israeli couscous. In the picture below I paired it with my chocolate pb protein rice crispy bar and a salad of cucumber, tomato, feta, and homemade balsamic dressing.

Let me know if you try it! I have also used this recipe minus the buffalo sauce and instead used BBQ sauce. It was good, but this is cravable for me. The options are endless. I have a friend that makes a yummy ranch/greek yogurt dip to pair with hers. Try it!