Monday, March 31, 2014

Motivation Monday: Healthy Crockpot Meals

I have a huge obsession with my crockpot. I can throw a few ingredients in and hours later walk into a home that smells heavenly. Dinner is always delicious in a slow cooker. I'm often asked for my number one kitchen tool. Without a doubt, it's my crockpot. You can fix an entire healthy meal in the crockpot without using a ton of dishes or a whole lot of money! 

My Corned Beef Crockpot Meal, Bean and Ham Soup, and Pineapple Chicken are easy blog favorites around here. 

Crockpot meals don't have to be complicated to be good. Veggie Soup is quick and easy... Throw in some cooked ground turkey or venison, a bag of frozen vegetable pieces, a large can of organic diced tomatoes, and some organic tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and a basil leaf. Cook all day on low and it's a guaranteed family favorite! 

Pot roast with carrots can be a perfect meal on a busy weeknight. You can throw in chicken breasts, cook all day on low and shred for easy "clean" tacos, stir fry, or on a big salad. Chili is also super simple! 

I'm always looking for new clean eating crockpot recipes. I'm excited to see what everyone's got today!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reader Question: Late Night Snacking Help

I asked for reader questions and several of you had fabulous ones for me! Thank you so much!!! 

You all challenge and push me more than I can ever explain. I get many emails each week from some of you. They are all so flattering and sweet, but I don't think y'all understand how much each one of you inspire me. You inspire me to try for bigger, harder things. You inspire me to keep going. I just can't put into words how much I appreciate everyone around here. Y'all are simply amazing! 

So, I'm going to work through these questions one by one... And if you have more along the way, just let me know and we'll tackle those!

We'll start off with Bree's questions:

"First off, I love your blog! Very helpful and inspiring! I'm trying to get healthier and I'm having trouble with the nighttime snacking! I do good for a few days and then the next couple I feel like I can eat the whole house. When you first started your journey, how did you overcome that?"

Honestly if I'm truly hungry in the evenings, I eat. 

First you have to determine if you're eating out of boredom or if you're actually hungry. I believe in eating several smaller meals throughout the day. It keeps your metabolism actively engaged and it prevents you from feeling like you're "starving". 

Check your water intake. One of the earliest signs of dehydration is a feeling of hunger. Most days if I am drinking enough water and have spaced out my meals properly, I'm not actually hungry after dinner. How do you know if you're drinking enough water? Take your weight, divide it in half. That's the number of ounces of water your body needs each and every day. 

Depending on my activity level for the day, sometimes I do want a snack later on in the evening. I think depriving yourself of things sets you up for failure. If you plan some healthier snacking options in advance, you are much less likely to overindulge on junk. 

My husband is a huge evening snacker. His go-to snack: candy! If I sit and watch him eat, it triggers it in me sometimes. I have carrots, veggie chips from ALDI, beef jerkey, and unsalted almonds on hand if I get the urge to snack. I will have one serving and a big glass of water. Then I make myself wait 20 minutes to see if I'm actually hungry or just snacking for the heck of it. Normally, the urge to eat is over. 

I think if I actually sat there watching him eat and denied myself every single time, I would literally go insane. And then I would just binge on junk. That's the honest truth. I take the binge urge away and it's not devastating to eat a healthy snack. If you're a chronic evening snacker, just plan it into your day. Cut one of your other meals in half and save the calories for later. Just keep the foods "clean". 

I think we get trapped in this mentality that we have to do this perfect. Whether you've lost 10 pounds or 100, you will never achieve perfection. It's not realistic. What we're trying to do is find a way of life that we can see ourselves continuing for 10, 20, or 30 years. We have to remove "diet" from our lives. We are changing our way of life. The moment you stop a diet, you risk gaining everything back. The moment you accept a new way of life, you are freeing yourself. It's okay to discover what works for you, for your family, for your lifestyle. There's no room for deprivation or starvation. 

Plan, plan, plan! Have serving size portions of healthy snacks ready to go. Drink your water! That's the key to all of this. If you are still having an issue in the evenings, it's time to change things up. Don't plop down on the couch if that's what triggers the eating. Relax in the tub, read a book, go for a walk, or clean something. Just switch it up to get out of that same pattern. 

It takes 21 days to make something a habit. This takes time, but you can do it. It is one hundred percent worth the effort. I promise!  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Homemade Coconut Milk and Flour

The cost of coconut milk and flour is pretty high, but there are plenty of great new recipes on Pinterest that use coconut flour instead of regular flour. I admit I've been really wanting to try some, but I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of money on coconut flour and milk. Homemade coconut milk costs less than $1 per batch based on what we tried. Not only do I get good quality coconut flour, I also get the milk and save money! 

You can use the coconut milk for smoothies or in protein shakes. 

#eatclean #weightloss #fitmom #budget #recipe #coconutflour #homemade

I added one cup of the unsweatened shredded coconut to four cups of filtered water. 

Just throw it all in your blender and let it set for a couple of hours. 

After it has softened, blend it on high for a couple of minutes. 

Drain the milk into a pitcher and catch the coconut "pulp" in a colander. 

Gently press the coconut mixture with a spoon to squeeze all of the liquids out. 

Spread your coconut pulp on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 200 degree oven until dry. Mine took about three hours. 

After it has dried out, put the pulp into a food processor and grind it up. 
It will have the consistency of cornmeal. 

Store in an air tight container until ready to use! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Blah, blah, blah...

Bear with me, y'all! 

Caleb and I had the nasty stomach virus that seems to be spreading like crazy. It has been absolutely miserable!!

I have several things to catch up on and then we can start tackling those questions you have for me. 

For the record, my four year old child is ten times tougher than his mama. I spent yesterday morning at the doctor trying not to pass out. Unfortunately for me, there's an IV shortage in our area. The closest place to get one would be the E.R. and I simply wasn't going there. After three hours, they got me back on track. 

Rough, I tell ya...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ask Away

I've been asked for some specific shopping and meal planning lists lately. 

For those of you who happen to be curious about what I do and how I do it, I need some questions! I want to know what matters to you. What do you need help with? 

Leave me a comment below with questions, topics you want to discuss, or whatever....And we'll tackle them! 

Sound fair? 

I want to help YOU! I have a huge heart for helping other ladies battle their weight problems. I've been there. I know exactly what it's like to be obese and I now understand how it feels to be fit and active. 

There are no limits to your questions. Ask away and tell me what you want to see here! 

If you wanna know what my schedule looks like....what Caleb my husband snores....Go for it. 

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Winners of the ALDI Giveaway!

I've got two winners of the ALDI giveaway! Mary Walline and Lauren Walters Roth, you both win a $25.00 gift certificate to ALDI! You have 48 hours to send me an email at with your mailing address. Congrats to both of you! 

Full Schedule

Life has been so chaotic lately. From my whirlwind ALDI trip to the beginning of baseball season with surrounding myself with all things Zumba...Life has been crazy! 

I'm often asked how I pull everything off. Most of the time I don't actually realize how busy we are or how fast paced our life is. The truth is my husband is one hundred percent ADHD. Combine that with a very active four year old little boy... It's either keep up or get left behind! 

There was a time when I got left behind. When I was 80 pounds heavier, I didn't have much of a life. My idea of a great evening was sitting on the couch, watching TV, and eating my favorite comfort foods. We didn't go out with friends often because I shut myself off to everyone outside of my family. I never felt like I had anything in common with others women my age. I kept to myself and I had no hobbies, so in all honesty I didn't have much in common with other women. 

After a couple of really hectic weeks, I have been able to step back and examine life now. I lead a very full life, but there is so much joy in it! I have this never ending peace and happiness in my heart because for the first time in my adult life, I am truly living! 

I don't put a ton of pressure on myself to be perfect at everything I do. This is real life and perfection just isn't going to happen! I focus on the things that mean the most to me and my family and that's honestly all I can do. We love God and our families, we spend time together, we eat healthy and we stay active. Anything outside of that is just a bonus. 

So my calendar may be packed and I've got 50 million things going on....but I do it because I can now. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tips & Tricks: Make Ahead Meals (Clean Eating Style)

If you've been around here long, you know I'm a huge advocate for meal prep and clean eating. For those of you who may not be familiar with my make ahead meals, I'll share my original post to get you started...

Before I get into the details, I want to throw this out there: I have so many wonderful fitness and health readers here. I could use all the help I can get with this clean eating thing. I wanted to share my start with you and hopefully y'all will correct me if I'm not getting it right. So comment away, okay?

When I first began researching how to eat clean, I was just simply amazed. My weight loss has been stalled for quite a while now and I have discovered that I'm not eating a very balanced diet. I have pretty much cut out all carbs and fat. While that idea works for a while, our bodies are not designed to run without it. I have made the decision to use all of the food groups in a balanced, healthy way.

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I went to Aldi to buy the majority of my food. I spent a little over $107.00 at Aldi and around $10.00 at Walmart to get enough food to feed my family for around 2 weeks. 

I think one reason we hold back from eating healthier is that there's an assumption that it costs a lot more money. If you use your freezer properly and prepare your meals in advance, you can save a ton of money! 

My family loves to eat out. I've showed you over the past year how to take control of your eating while dining out, but now I want to show you how to make it work better at home. My husband and I are saving up for something special and we can save a ton of money by eating meals from home. My husband also tends to really overeat and put junk into his body more if we eat out as well. I want to take care of my family better and this is one way I can do that. 

Eggs are a great source of protein. If you hardboil them in advance, you can use them on salads, over rice, or for breakfast. I prepared about two and a half dozen for the week since my husband and son love them. 

While my eggs were cooking, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees. I bought frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts and tenderloins. After they thawed, I put them in my casserole dishes. I sprinkled Mrs.Dash on them. It adds tons of flavor and variety without adding any sodium. 

As my chicken baked in the oven, I began prepping salads for the week. It helps if you set out all of your containers and keep a garbage can beside you. You can fly through this!  

I also premixed a larger salad for us to eat on through the week. 
I tried to use different types of greens and toppings to give us variety. 

For some of our lunch meals, I cooked some couscous. 

And topped it with the baked chicken. This can be paired with the salads and give a very balanced, filling meal. 

After one hour of shopping and two hours a baking/prepping, I have everything ready for my family to eat during the week. I went ahead and cooked up my ground turkey. I plan to use that in my Skinny Stuffed Peppers

Breakfast is so much easier to pull off now. I used whole wheat mini-bagels topped with all natural peanut butter and raisins. My family loved it! 

There's no more running around trying to figure out what to bring for lunch as we head out the door. We just grab our premade containers and run. 

I've thrown two weeks of protein into the fridge and freezer. Everything is pretty much all laid out with plenty of variety. As I go, I will share how I've made my dinners. 

Instead of spending $150.00 per week on groceries, then eating out some nights because we're too exhausted to cook or the food has already spoiled, and putting junk into our bodies....

I have breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and dinners for two weeks, all stored properly....with less than $60.00 per week spent and everything prepared in three hours. 

No more cooking for an hour at home while my son whines at my feet and my husband tries to distract him. No more running out to eat, spending so much money on it, and having no time to do anything else in the evenings. No more feeling sluggish with putting junk into our bodies. 

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shamrock City 2014

*** I apologize for the insane amount of pictures in this post.

Last weekend we took Caleb to Rock City to celebrate St. Patrick's Day a little early. It was beautiful outside and I couldn't miss out on that! We have some serious Spring Fever going on around our house...

Ryan and I bought Caleb a family membership to Rock City for Christmas. We really would like to see it year round because they plan some fun family activities throughout the year and celebrate various holidays. 

Shamrock City was a whole lotta green and Irish awesomeness! 

We started out with a kid's treasure hunt. We basically made several stops to put shamrock stickers on Caleb's map. 

And he had to get a treat at the first stop: The Fudge Kitchen

Get a sticker and hype your kids up on pure sugar all in one place, y'all! 

I don't think Ryan wanted to cooperate with our green theme for the day. For some reason he just doesn't let me pick out his outfits... He says Tennessee Orange goes with everything. 

I had to confiscate the candy early on. Even though he was smiling in these pictures, he was tired and ready for a nap. 

I've never been to Rock City during the day. I usually come just for the Christmas lights each year. I finally got to walk the swinging bridge. 

I am severely afraid of heights. This was crazy scary! 

But I made it! 

They colored the falls green! 

No Irish celebration would be complete without bagpipes, right? 

I ended up sitting beside a woman while Caleb played. An older gentleman in a kilt sat directly in front of us....legs wide open....left absolutely nothing to the imagination! We literally died....

The lady and I ended up talking for a while since we both have an aversion to older men in kilts. 

To get me over the initial shock of being flashed in public, Ryan got me a cup of green wine. It was way too sweet! 

The sweet lady took a picture of the three of us....
I think Caleb noticed the older man in the kilt....

We mined for treasure....and fueled Caleb's obsession with rocks. 

And met the Rock City elf. 

We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful city. 

It was so very pretty! 

I absolutely adore his little grins! 

Four hours of Shamrock City fun was exhausting! We crashed hard Saturday night! 


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