Eat the Rainbow

“Eat the rainbow.” all the health nuts say. Well, not only is it good for you, it’s mighty tasty! Monday is a good day to get started on a healthy food kick (well, ANY day is, but Monday just seems fresh for some reason). Here’s what I did for my lunch…

Picked some kale from my garden! I planted the little plants a month or so ago and now it’s harvest time. First time I’ve ever grown kale and it’s easy. 🙂

Then, I chopped up some yellow squash and halved some cherry tomatoes. Heated some olive oil on medium heat, tossed all those things in and added grated carrots and a drained can of great northern beans. Cooked about 15 minutes with some salt and pepper and topped with some Italian blend cheese. Let me tell ya, it’s good eatin!

What’s your healthy meal that’s easy and ready in a pinch? What are you growing in YOUR garden this year?

Today's lunch!

Today’s lunch!

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recipes and halloween

I got on a kick this week and cooked a bit more than I have in a while. Baby Elam is finally starting to take some longer naps, plus I had Wednesday off which allowed me to cook a bit. Here are the recipes I used:

  • Wheat Beer Bread – I’ve always wanted to make bread, but it seems so daunting. This recipe was easy-peasy and I whipped it up in just about 5 minutes last night. I liked the bread, but my husband wasn’t much into it. I also baked fish my dad had caught in the river and then I sauted up kale in oil olive and threw in a can of drained black eyed peas. Good supper.
  • Apple Muffins – I follow the blog “100 Days of Real Food” and she posted a neat muffin recipe to try. I didn’t have walnuts and I only had 1/2 the syrup it called for, so I left out the nuts and did half syrup/half honey for the sweetener. Ezra gobbled his down and Mike (hubby) even liked them.
  • Baked  Eggplant – A vegan man that is a member of the gym where I work brought me an eggplant earlier this week that I needed to use, so I made this dish for my mom and me. I added Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder. I liked it but mom loved it and made it again at her house. I served it over raditorre pasta with marinara sauce.
  • Monkey Bread – This one I learned in middle school home economics and it just stuck. You take a can of biscuits and cut them into quarters, then roll in melted butter. After that, dip them in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and bake at 350 for a few minutes. Ezra actually helped with this one and ate the raw dough (just a little). He’s such a picky eater that I let him just about anything that won’t make him sick! 🙂 It’s not the most healthy dish, but it’s a nice little treat from time to time. I need to find some wheat biscuit dough or make some from scratch.

Speaking of picky eaters, earlier this week I downloaded some neat docs and watched a short video by Tribe Wellness about picky eaters and how to remedy the issue. I learned some good tips and I encourage you to check it out if interested.

Another cool thing on the “100 Days of Real Food” blog was alternatives to Halloween candy. My son is having a pre-school party for Halloween and I think I will take some non-candy treats for that. The teacher sent home a list of what each kid needs to bring…the list included cupcakes, cookies, chips, cheese puffs, and pizza. I am responsible for the chips and I think I will bring some fruit salad to show folks you can still have fun with good foods…

Well, let’s get ready for the weekend. I hope yours is filled with fun, good food, and some physical activity!

a new normal

Little Elam is 2 weeks old today and our family is settling into a new normal. Ezra is a great big brother. Yesterday, he shared his building blocks and asked “Can I touch his leg?” It was very sweet. Thankfully, my husband has had 2 weeks off work and still has one more before it’s back to the daily grind. I am off until the week of Labor Day, thankfully. Physically, I feel almost back to my old self again and my stomach is quickly disappearing. I took a 20 minute walk yesterday for the first time since Elam arrived and it felt good. I hope to keep walking a few times a week and incorporate some light strength training as well. Need to get some of this jiggly tightened up!

My garden is producing an abundance of tomatoes and those sunflowers are even more gorgeous. I’m so glad I decided to have a garden and that it’s turned out so well. I have a few zucchini still coming out and there are some butternut squash ripening nicely. I found a watermelon the vine that’s about 2 inches around, so we’ll see if it turns into anything. I found a recipe for crock pot spaghetti sauce I’m going to try with all these tomatoes so they don’t go to waste.

I’m so thankful for the blessings the good Lord has given me. It’s like the song my son has learned to sing…

This is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made
I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it

Rejoice and be glad today!

a few new recipes

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself cooking here and there. I figure I better do it while I have some energy before this baby arrives. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Whole Wheat Blackberry Muffins – I ended up using these giant blackberries I had and they turned out so good. I didn’t have any vanilla on hand that day, so I used vanilla yogurt and that worked fine.

Blueberry Zucchini Bread – I made this Saturday and it was so yummy! I told my son it was “cake” and let him eat some for breakfast. 🙂 My husband even liked it. This recipe made one regular loaf plus one mini loaf (I didn’t have 4 mini loaf pans). Oh, and I used wheat flour instead of white.

Spinach Stuff Chicken Breasts – These I made for dinner Monday night and the husband was thrilled! I used thighs because they are cheaper and I like them better. I also used cream cheese instead of feta and I added sun dried tomatoes as well. Very yummy.

Zucchini Gratin – This was a side dish I made Monday. I loved it. I didn’t measure my ingredients, so I went a little heavy on the bread crumb topping, but next time I’ll know better. Had a great flavor!

I’m so glad I’ve developed a love for cooking. The great thing about summer is that you don’t have to “cook” much. I think tonight, I might try these zucchini noodles if I have some ripe ones in the garden.

Thought I would share this photo my mom got yesterday. I’m pretty pregnant, huh? 🙂

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how i eat

I went through the drive through this morning and got a bacon egg and cheese biscuit for my “second breakfast” (my first breakfast was about 5:30 am and I was hungry). This was due to lack of planning on my part, which is always when I seem to have issues eating well. While I was munching on my biscuit, I thought I might like to share how (or maybe “what”) I eat.

Honestly, I feel like I eat well 80% of the time. I try to eat fresh veggies and other healthful foods most of the time, but there are occasions when I fail to plan and I end up eating something I’m not too happy about. I have found that if I keep healthy snacks on hand (fruit, nuts, yogurt, etc.) then I don’t eat much vending machine stuff or fast food. Also, I have to plan the day before what I’m going to eat for lunch (when I’m working) or I can get myself into trouble.

As a personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it’s important for me to maintain my weight and live a healthy lifestyle. Plus, I just like it and I feel better when I do. I’m also trying to set a good example for my son (and future child).

Here’s a sample of what my meals may consist of when I’m behaving myself…

Breakfasts:

  • Burrito – scrambled eggs, salsa, dollop sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado
  • English muffin with egg & cheese
  • Yogurt with blueberries, strawberries, and granola
  • Scrambled or fried (olive oil) eggs with toast

Lunch:

  • Supper leftovers (most common)
  • Salad (I normally grab a bag of the Very Veggie or Romaine mix then dress it up with whatever I have – sometimes just olives, cheese, and oil & vinegar)
  • Homemade sandwich from this local Amish bread store (using their wheat bread – yum!)
  • Can of Progresso soup (one of the vegetable kinds like Minestrone)

Supper

  • Last night it was yellow eyed beans (cooked in the crock pot with olive oil), corn on the cob, watermelon, and macaroni & cheese
  • Simple spaghetti (wheat pasta & a jar of Bertoli or Classico sauce) with a veggie or salad
  • One of the other recipes I’ve posted about in the past

Snacks

  • Apple (my favorites are Pink Lady and Honeycrisp) and yogurt
  • Yogurt, fruit, and granola
  • Almonds

Like I said, I feel like I do well 80% of the time. Here’s what the other 20% may consist of…

Breakfast

  • Cinnamon rolls (from a can) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Pancakes (I try to make mine from scratch now so they’re not full of preservatives) with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage
  • Breakfast pizza
  • French toast with eggs and maybe bacon/sausage

Lunch

  • Pizza (I absolutely LOVE plain old cheese pizza!)
  • BBQ sandwich and fries from the drive through
  • Hot ham and cheese from Hardee’s

Supper

  • Tombstone cheese pizza & fries
  • Stuffed manicotti (I may actually make this tonight…)
  • Take out pizza
  • Sloppy Joe and fries

Snacks

  • “Nabs” (crackers) from the vending machine
  • Snickers or Milky Way
  • Ice cream (this has been my weakness during this pregnancy)

I really try to limit the junk, but I’m human!

From my experience, these are the things that help me eat my best:

  • Take some time before you head to the grocery store and pick a few healthy recipes for the week. They don’t have to be new, but allrecipes.com is a great source!
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it. Also, try to avoid the middle isles of the grocery store where most of the packaged/processed products are.
  • Start in the produce section and try to fill your cart at least 1/4 to 1/2 full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t grocery shop when you are hungry…ever! Always eat a snack before you enter the store.
  • Buy organic or local when you can…it can be expensive, but it can be more economical than you would expect.
  • PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! Try to think a day ahead of what you’re going to eat the next day. Or at least a meal ahead so you can prepare.
  • If you work, pack your food the day before or take a week’s worth of snacks to work with you if you have a fridge. Then, you won’t be tempted by things you’re not supposed to have!
  • Watch the weight scales or your clothes for signs that you’re veering off track.
  • Keep a food journal and write down what you honestly consume in a day. There are lots of great apps for smart phones that make this easier.
  • Grow a garden and/or visit the local farmer’s market.

Some final closing thoughts today that were forwarded to me via email just this morning…

  • Researchers estimate that every day 16,000 to 24,000 children die from hunger related causes. In 2004 almost one billion people lived below the international poverty line, earning less than one dollar per day. These impoverished people struggle daily with malnourishment and hunger, and the majority live in what has been called the “developing” world. This developing world has six times the population as the 57 or so countries that comprise the “developed” world.(1)
  • In the United States, by contrast, over two-thirds of the population are overweight and almost one-third is considered obese according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 2001-2004.(2)  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control shows a steady increase in the number of obese persons in the United States in their data compiled from 1985-2006.(3) Living with an over-abundance, we are barraged by diet fads and quick-fix strategies to shed extra pounds. Despite all the effort to promote healthy eating and lifestyles, the fact remains that in 22 different states 25 to 30 percent of the populations are considered obese.(4)

(1) Statistics from Bread for the World, http://www.bread.org and the World Food Programme http://www.wfp.org.
(2) Statistics from the Weight Control Information Network http://www.niddk.nih.gov.
(3) Centers for Disease Control, http://www.cdc.gov.
(4) Ibid.

After I read the email, it really made me think (again) how blessed I am. I thank God before each meal for the food He has provided. That’s another healthy habit – being grateful for your food!

squash blossoms & new recipes to try

My garden is coming along so well! I told my dad I had blooming squash or cucumbers (I didn’t label what I planted like a good gardener would), so he told me a yellow-orange blossom is probably squash. I couldn’t remember which was in that row (yellow or zucchini), but he told me to look behind the blossom and I should see the squash. Isn’t he a smart man? It’s my very first ever zucchini from my very first ever garden!!!

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Right now, it’s only about 3 or 4 inches long, but I bet it will be ripe for the picking in no time. I’m kind of excited about having a bunch of zucchini because I like to eat it. Plus, I found a neat Blueberry Zucchini Bread recipe I’d like to try.

Check out the other things I have coming up in my garden…

Sunflowers, butternut squash, and yellow squash

Sunflowers, butternut squash, and yellow squash

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.

Romaine lettuce

Romaine lettuce

Purple potatoes (I mean, purple through and through!)

Purple potatoes (I mean, purple through and through!)

Not pictured: watermelon and cantaloupe, but they’re still pretty small.

I have been on a kick trying new recipes and thought I would share a few with you:

  • Overnight Blueberry French Toast – made this for my Father’s Day breakfast in addition to the breakfast pizza I’ve made before. It was delicious! I made 1/2 the recipe and we had enough to eat again this morning.
  • Lemon Lime Avocado Pie – this was the easiest, coolest recipe! You just put all the stuff in the blender and then pour in a graham cracker pie crust. I thought it was very tasty and I felt less guilty for eating it thanks to the avocado! And it’s GREEN, let me tell you. It would be perfect for St. Patty’s Day. I finished it off today and it wasn’t as bright green, but it wasn’t brown either.
  • Quinoa Salad – I made this for my mom today when she came out to visit. She’s somewhat vegan and we both really liked it. This recipe isn’t the exact same as what I used, but I can’t find the one I had online. My version just has quinoa, cherry tomatoes, corn, edamame, lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I had planned to make up my freezer meals today for when baby arrives, but I’m going to take a little nap first (while the toddler naps). If the feeling hits, I’ll get to it in a little bit. I bought all the stuff Saturday, so I really need to get with it, huh?

Before I go, I must share a beautiful shot of my  husband and son from Father’s Day. The both looked so handsome ready for church and I caught this picture while they were walking through the yard going to the car. My son had picked some weed and was telling his dad all about it. I love these two fellows so much!

My husband and his "mini me". Cute plaid outfit courtesy of my sister Rachel.

My husband and his “mini me”. Cute plaid outfit courtesy of my sister Rachel.

m.i.a. blogger

It’s been over a week since my last blog post and it makes me sad. I have thought of so many good things to blog about, but life has gotten in the way. I’m thankful to be needed and wanted, but I miss getting my thoughts out there! I have some good pictures to post, but not with me, so that will have to be a separate post (hopefully not NEXT week).

The 84 degree temperatures yesterday made my mid-July due date a big reality yesterday! Only 10 weeks until baby #2 is here in my arms (or less if I don’t make it the full 40 weeks). I’m excited and nervous at the same time…not about the labor part, but just about the adjustment period and recovery at home. I’m hoping our 2 year old will cope well and understand. We keep talking to him about the new baby, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. He’s 27 months old and will be almost 2.5 when the baby gets here, so I’m hoping he understands by then. Either way, I’m sure it will be fine. In the meantime, I have to get the new baby’s room together. I have our old baby clothes separated now, so at least that’s taken care of. If this one is a boy, we’ll be set on clothes…if it’s a girl, I have enough neutrals to tide me over until we can swap them out for girl stuff. Thank goodness for baby consignment stores now, huh?!

Work is keeping me busy, too! I taught my first lifeguard class a week and a half ago and all 4 people passed, thankfully. I’m on the last week of our weight loss contest where I’m heading up a team of 5 ladies with nutrition advice and 1 hour of personal training each week. I love the contest, but it’s very demanding and I’m looking forward to the slower pace of next week. We have plenty of other things coming up that I have to prepare for like a 5k race in July and a 10th anniversary celebration in June. I’ll be busy right up until this baby gets here. OH! I got my BodyPump video recorded and uploaded as well so here’s hoping I will be certified by the middle of May. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’ve been back on a cooking kick and have tried some good recipes. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Stuffed Shells – made this one last Tuesday and it was good (4/5 stars)! I used manicotti instead of shells.
  • Chicken Chimi in the Oven – this was Monday’s dinner in celebration of Cinco De Mayo. I give it 3/5 stars…I will omit the cinnamon in the future, I think.
  • Dad’s Breakfast Pizza – loved this one so much I made it twice in one week (5/5 stars).  The first time I made it, I followed the recipe but used crescent rolls instead of biscuits and I did over easy eggs instead of scrambled…I just cooked my eggs up in a pan with a little olive  oil before placing them on the pizza. The second go round, I made my husband’s half with sausage, cheese, and over easy eggs. My half was onions, cheese, scrambled eggs and I topped with salsa and avocado when it came out of the oven. So yummy!

I signed up for the PRO account with allrecipes.com and now I have a meal planner feature. You just add your recipes you’ve saved and it creates a grocery list for you. Very neat indeed and it’s only $9.95 for 6 months, so I can discontinue it if I don’t use it enough between now and then.

Last but not least, I got my very first garden planted on Monday! I planted butternut squash, yellow squash, cucumbers, and romaine lettuce. I also threw in some sunflower seeds I’d gotten. I have to plant my eggplants and tomatoes, but my seedlings aren’t doing great, so we’ll see how that goes. I might have to buy some plants that are already started for a few things, but that can wait until next week.

For Mother’s Day, I asked my darling husband to fence in the garden to keep out the dogs, rabbits, toddler, etc. I also asked to watch The Great Gatsby on DVD Sunday night after we put our son to bed. We have that song on our BodyPump playlist and I want to see the movie. I’m only what, a year behind?

Well, let’s take a rest. I promise to post something interesting soon!