Hearts Full of Protein

I woke up this morning with a new sense of determination.  Went searching for my P90X DVD set.  Allas, P90X grew legs and walked away.  Gosh darnit!!  Up pops my P90X3 DVD set, almost like it was trying to save the day!  Okie Dokie then, its a sign… I’m going to do P90X3 for the next 90 days!  Add in a few runs here and there when the winter weather allows and hill runs come spring, along with staying on track nutritionally and I expect to see good things by the time I need to board a flight to Vegas in 89 days!

Because I’m focusing on eating super clean, and know that I like my treats, I decided to do a little creating of my own… Enter Cookie Dough Protein Hearts.

This recipe was adapted from this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds.  The recipe looked delicious as it is, but I didn’t have chocolate protein powder, just vanilla.  Looks like my decision was made for me!

Hearts Full of Protein

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  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder (I used EAS Vanilla Whey Protein)
  • 2 1/4 cup oat flour (I just ground up steel cut oats in my food processor)
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup nut or seed butter (I used Sunbutter)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  The batter will be quite thick.  If it is too dry, add a tiny bit more milk.  Once combined, scoop and roll into balls, or add into a silicone mold like this one from Wilton.  Cover and put in freezer until frozen, pop out, and put into freezer safe bag.

Recipe makes approximately 24 servings of 2 tablespoon portions.

Approximate nutritional information: 122 cal/9 carb/4 fat/11 protein

Hope you all enjoy!

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The Big Game

Do you remember when you were young, and the person you sat next to in school became your best friend…?  Or the other kid in class with the same dorky backpack (I mean, awesome backpack) started chatting you up and you became inseparable?  Remember how easy it was to make friends, and keep friends?  You saw each other every day at school, usually lived within a few blocks of each other, talked to each other on the phone 15 minutes after leaving each other, and knew every little thing about each other.

Then we get older… We grow up, move out, live on our own, set up our own home bases, work jobs, have kids… The world changes.  We try to keep in touch with each on social media, comment here and there, watch our kids grow up, watch each other lose hair, get grey, have celebrations.  We feel like we are still involved in each others lives.  I mean, we know things about each other, we know what is going on in each others lives… We are still close, right? Has the world of social media given us a false sense of friendship with people?  I could tell you 10,000 things about my best friends and what they have been doing over the last few weeks… But how many of these things came from their mouths?

Its a hard slap in the face when you realize that you have not been a good friend.  We all get caught up in our own lives as we get older.  We spend time with spouses, with children, with co workers, with hobbies, and sometimes just enjoying that rare moment alone and in silence.  When are we supposed to “fit” friends in?  Sometimes, being an adult is difficult, and the decisions you make aren’t always the right ones; they don’t always point you down the right path; they hurt others; they hurt us.  Opening up to others can be hard if you are used to just posting quick blips on Facebook.  You build your walls, don’t want to let people in.  But, you need those people in order to make it through life.  Need to keep your friends close, tell them your secrets, make regular plans with them, hug them, be able to reach out and know that they will be there if you need them.  Going through life is like a big game, and friends are cheerleaders.  Don’t let them down and they won’t let you down.

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Come on let’s go and play…  Don’t judge… I’m a mom of a three year old.  I know that movie word by word, gesture for gesture, note for note.  Sigh.  weather reportIt is pretty fitting for the weekend we are having here in Chicago.  It started snowing last night (rain into snow), and we woke up to about 6 inches of snow on the ground at 6:30 this morning.  As of this moment (1pm) we have about a foot of snow, and its still coming down.  Winds are expected to pick up later today and blizzard conditions will be beginning.  Guess we aren’t going anywhere for the Super Bowl.

I had planned on getting up and getting some lifting done down in my ladycave (roar – home gym), but decided to make my workout more fun.  My workout today consisted of shoveling the long sidewalk in the front of the house, along with about half the driveway, and the piles the plows left on the end of the driveway (of course they came around RIGHT as I was finishing the driveway so I had to do it twice…).  Doesn’t sound like a lot, but 10″ heavy snow… Woo – workout!!!  Wore my HRM to track my burn (more so because I was curious than concerned)… 521 calories burned in 74 minutes.  I’ll take it for round 1.  I got some playtime in there, too.  Meanwhile, D and Mini Me built the biggest snowman on the block, and with the donation from a sweet little girl down the block, we were able to give him a face and a tophat.  So sweet.

Who wouldn't sunbathe in this weather?  Note:  Chair is resting on top of the snow...

Biggest snowman on the block!!       Yeah!!!  Snow!!!

As disappointed as I am that we won’t be going anywhere tonight for the Super Bowl (gotta keep the family safe), it won’t stop me from preparing a snack or two for the big game!  During my brief stint with the Whole30, I was able to refocus some of my unhealthy eating habits, and make conscious decisions to snack smarter when I feel I “need” or just want a nibble of a snack.  I have been eying baked coconut chips for a few years now, and decided to order  a giant bag of coconut flakes from Amazon (found here), and planned on making good use of them.  I am a total sucker for the sweet and salty flavor combinations, so wanted to really nail that down.  And I did!  Total winner, and a super filling snack!

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Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Coconut Chips

Ingredients

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  • 3 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1.5T coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5T honey
  • 2.5t cinnamon
  • 2.5t sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Put coconut flakes in medium sized bowl. IMG_8064
  3. Whisk together melted coconut oil and honey; pour over coconut flakes.IMG_8063
  4. Pour cinnamon and sea salt over flakes and stir to combine all ingredients.          IMG_8061
  5. Pour flakes on a (preferably parchment lined) cookie sheet.  I love my gigantic cookie sheet – it’s sized for the shelf of my oven (found here).  IMG_8060
  6. Put flakes in the oven and STAY CLOSE!  Flakes will be done in about 6 minutes, and will continue to crisp when they are out of the oven.  I made the mistake of putting them in a little too long (don’t worry, I altered the timing here for you)… Whoops.

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Once cooled, enjoy!!!

The end… And…SUSHI!

Yesterday I made the tough decision to end my adventure into the world of my second Whole30. I had decided at the beginning of this year that my healthy lifestyle was going to be something I enjoyed and not despised. While I agree with the principles of the Whole30, I do not want to deprive myself of some of my favorite foods because they don’t fit into a bucket created by someone. It did give me a chance to be able to refocus my nutrition on healthy and natural sources of foods, remind me that most of my foods at meals should be vegetables, and that I need to be mindful of the other “crap” that I consume. However, I need to be able to enjoy things like sushi and the occasional beverage. So, back to my norm – eat what I enjoy, in moderation, and find new ways to serve healthy foods to my family.

Now, back to sushi…  Mmm… Sushi.  We ordered takeout from our favorite sushi place last night for dinner, Aodake.  Fantastic place, three locations in the Chicagoland area now. Woo!  The two below are my favorites.

Baked scallop, crab, shrimp and cream sauce
Baked scallop, crab, shrimp and cream sauce
Spicy salmon, avocado, cucumber in soy paper, with assortment of fresh fish, tobiko on top (12pc)
Spicy salmon, avocado, cucumber in soy paper, with assortment of fresh fish, tobiko on top (12pc)

The dynamite roll is AMAZING!!!  And the perfect rainbow is, well, perfect!  Anyone I have introduced to these two rolls love them, and I have not been able to find anything like them at any other sushi place.  Now, if they could somehow come up with a frequent diners card my life would be complete!

I start working out again tomorrow.  After hurting my knee last Sunday during goblet squats, I gave it a rest week.  I can’t wait! I feel like I’ve gotten soft this week even though I have been eating very well.

Hope everyone has a great Saturday!

Who got me a stripper??

It has been a busy week and a half for me!  Just about two weeks ago I got to help one of my best friends celebrate her 30th birthday with an amazing party at a local bar.  I donated a hotel room to the cause, which was the site of a little girl bonding time while we were getting ready and an after party.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a party that I was at (or hosting) unless there was a random pop-in by the police.  IMG_7651No… We weren’t that awful!  I am in my 30s… I am somewhat respectful (shush).  The people a few rooms down weren’t all that respectful, though, and filled the hall with some very rank weed smoke.  Blech!  The cops heard our music, stopped by, and of course I made friends with them.  Sometimes, making a police officer laugh (in this case five police officers laugh) is enough for me.  Brings me back to my birthday when my cousin, Sarah, and I moved into together when I was right out of college.  We were pre-gamming prior to going out to the bar when there was a pounding on the apartment door.  Me, being me, got up to answer the door and on the way to the door says loudly… “Which one of you guys got me a cop stripper???”  I open the door, and who else would be standing there but  a police man.  I don’t know whose face was more red… Mine or his.  Turns out he was looking for the previous resident.  Good laughs all around for that one.

The Monday after my friend’s birthday I started the Whole30 again.  I did this downloadonce before a few years back to help get my body rid of toxins and launched into a year of paleo eating.  I have pretty much eaten clean since, taking learning’s of my paleo stint into my cooking, but felt the need to get my system clean of hormones and toxins.  I’m now a week and a half into it and feel pretty good.  Not going to lie… The first few days were hell… My body wanted SUGAR!!!!  I stayed strong and maintained composure (sorry to my coworkers if I was snappy last week).

Last night I wanted to do something different for dinner.  I was doing just meats or eggs and veggies for dinners and lunches since I was low on time, but last night I felt inspired.  I had a leftover cooked acorn squash from the previous night that I wanted to use for D and I, and I wanted to stuff it.  One of my favorite acorn squash recipes is a turkey stuffed acorn squash with rice and butter and cheese… Well, three of those things are not allowed on the Whole30, so I got to brainstorming, and this is what I came up with.

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Creamy Cauliflower and Zucchini Rice

Ingredients

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  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 2T bacon fat
  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned, light or full fat)
  • 1T nutritional yeast
  • 1t sea salt
  • 1t black pepper
  • 1t herbes de provence

Directions

  1. Prepare food processor with the shredding blade attached.

2.  Slice cauliflower so that it fits in your food processor funnel, and go to town. Mini Me enjoyed helping me with this.  She was the official button-presser.

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3.  Once all of your cauliflower is “riced”, pour into a bowl and set aside. Cut the ends off the zucchini, and shred away!  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

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4.  Repeat shredding process one last time with the onion and garlic cloves.

5.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2T of bacon fat until melted.

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6.  Pour in onion and garlic combination and sauté for a few minutes (until fragrant).

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7.  Add coconut milk, cauliflower, zucchini, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and herbes de provence. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12-15 minutes stirring occasionally.

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This cauliflower rice can be used alone as a side, topped with a meat, over easy eggs (yummy breakfast this morning), or as a stuffing for various other vegetables.  Hope you enjoy as much as we all did!!

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Makes around 6 large servings.

Cal – 145, Fat – 9g, Carb – 15g, Protein – 5g

What a Whirlwind!

Wow…. This week has been a whirlwind!

Monday I was dress shopping with my mom and Mini Me for my brother’s wedding.  Luck for both of them!  They will look great!  Not so much luck for me…. I just couldn’t find anything that jumped out at me.  Luckily, I still have time.  Looking forward to seeing my older brother marry the woman of his dreams!!

Tuesday it was back to work… But just for a few hours… Got the call to pick up Mini.  Pink eye… Poor girl had a swollen face like no other.

Wednesday it was back to work again (thanks D for staying home with her)…. SWAMPED!!

And today… I has a case of the feels.  Sigh.  I’m sure at some point everyone just feels down for no reason.  I’ve been in a funk lately.  The only thing I can attribute it to is lack of sun.  Time to start taking my Vitamin D again!

The one thing that I have been able to do this week, mainly because it is soooo simple to do, is make bread.  With Mini’s allergies, finding store-bought baked goods is always a bit difficult… And to be honest… I would SOOO much rather feed her and D something I make myself with whole and natural ingredients.  Enter Honey Wheat Bread.

Seriously, this recipe is beyond easy, nutritious, and delicious!

I slightly modified this recipe I found on allrecipes.com.

Honey Wheat Bread (for bread machine)

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 1/8 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cups bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted or solid, either way works!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Directions:

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Add ingredients according to the manufacturer’s directions to your bread machine. Use the wheat bread cycle and light color setting.

Let cool slightly and enjoy immediately, or cool completely and slice into pieces for sandwiches or toast.  Yum!

No, Mommy… You can’t go run. I want pancakes.

Sunday morning.  The first morning in a week that the temperatures have been over 20 degrees.  This means… RUNNING!!!  I’ve been waiting for this morning for a week.  The arctic temps here in Chi town have been insane.  Time for them to move on and make someone else miserable (sorry if you are that someone else).

Going to bed last night, I triple checked to be sure I had my alarm set so that I could wake up and get a run in around 7am.  I wasn’t planning a long run, just a quick 30 minutes out getting some fresh air, shoes to the pavement, enjoying the “me” time.  Alarm went off, I got up, slowly started getting myself to wake up enough for my brain to tell my feet to move one in front of the other, and suddenly I hear…”MOOOOOMMMMMMMYYYYYYY!!!!!  MOMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYYY!!!” coming from the room next to mine.  Mini Me was awake.  I suppose I can’t really complain when she sleeps 12 hours, but darn it… I wanted to be out the door when she woke up.  I go in, give her wake-up snuggles, and asks if she wants to hang out with me while I finish getting dressed for my run.  She looks at me all innocent and says, “No, Mommy.  You can’t go run.  I want pancakes.”  I explained to her that she can get up, have some milk and a banana while I was running and when I got back I would make her pancakes.  Told her I would be gone for 45 minutes, max.  She seemed ok with this rationale.

I finished getting dressed, getting my new ear buds in (thanks to my bro-in-law) and my runner’s pepper spray (thanks to D and mom-in-law… we have coyotes around here), and get to moving.  Finished my run at a pretty good pace, and entered the kitchen, knowing that Mini Me was probably getting hangry at this time.  If you don’t already know this, a hangry three year old is no good.  I am pretty sure that is how wars start.

Enter… Pancakes.  Now, as a quick reminder, Mini Me is allergic to eggs, milk, peanuts, fish, and shellfish.  Baking is constantly difficult, and breakfast foods are one of the most difficult things to work around.  But a few years back, I was lucky enough to stumble across a Banana Oatmeal Pancake recipe from the Colourful Palate.  These have been a lifesaver for me!  I did alter the recipe slightly from theirs, making them less gummy and a bit more toddler approved.

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

Ingredients:

IMG_7344

  • 1.5 cups quick cooking oats
  • 0.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Mini Chocolate Chips (mine are allergy free)
  • Canola Oil Spray or Coconut Oil (for pan prep)

Directions

  1. IMG_7342Blend all ingredients until combined, except bananas and chocolate chips.
  2. Add bananas and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour batter onto a hot skillet or griddle prepared with spray or coconut oil (I use my electric skillet because I can fit more), and sprinkle chocolate chips onto the pancakes as desired.  Wait until bubbles form in the center of the pancakes and flip to finish.

Recipe will make around 12-15 medium sized pancakes.

IMG_7341        Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

After all was said and done, Mini got her pancakes.

BONUS – these refrigerate and reheat really well for quick grab and go breakfasts during the week!

Pepperoni…what??

It’s Friday, it’s Friday, it’s Friday!! Now imagine me doing a little dance while singing that (off tune, most likely). It has been a week of ups and downs. A week of refocusing on nutrition and exercise. A week of nose-to-the grind working in the office. But… It’s FRIDAY!!

Friday’s used to mean ordering takeout sushi with D, and waiting until Mini Me went to bed so we could eat our sushi in peace and watch a movie. There was generally overindulging in food (yum sushi) and sometimes alcohol. Over the past few weeks I realized that things I was doing in the past have not been helping me reach my weight loss goals. I’ve been diligent on hitting my macros this week, inspired by my friend, Austin, and have reaped the reward… A 4.2lb weight loss this morning! Wooo!

As a mini celebration and a treat to myself, I wanted to have a munchie while watching a movie tonight. My macros didn’t allow for my second favorite food today, either… Popcorn. So I set off in search of something flavorful and crunchy (yes I had veggies today) to munch on while relaxing.

Enter… Pepperoni Chips! These little want to be chips are packed with protein and have little to no carbs. They do have a bit of sodium, so remember to keep drinking your water!!

Pepperoni Chips

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Ingredients:

Pepperoni

Directions:

1. Slice pepperoni thinly, or buy precut slices.

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2. Layer a paper towel or two on a plate to absorb any grease. Lay slices of pepperoni on the paper towel covered plate and cover with another paper towel to help minimize any splatters.

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3. Microwave a large plate of slices for 3-4 minutes, or until the centers don’t feel rubbery. Blot extra grease from the top by lightly pressing on the top paper towel.

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Note: my pepperoni didn’t completely crisp up until about 5 minutes after removed from the microwave.

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Now, sit…enjoy…and let’s start our movie!

Go home Mother Nature… You’re Drunk

brrrrr

Brrrr…. This extreme winter weather is about killing me!  Woke up this morning to -9 degrees with a feels-like temperature of -28.  That’s in Fahrenheit to all my international, folks.  IMG_7220  Not even kidding.  Right now, it is actually warmer in Antarctica than it is Chicago.  It’s a nice 29 degrees Fahrenheit there.  See ya later folks, I’m moving to Antarctica.  Go home, Mother Nature… You’re Drunk.

The temperatures are more than just cold, they are draining.  I used to be able to get outside for a run in the mornings, but when it is this cold (anything lower than 15 degrees I don’t run outside) I don’t even bother – too dangerous for me.  No outside run, means no fresh air, no Vitamin D, no energy.  I’ve been supplementing with my ½ bottles of 5 hour energy pre-workouts, a nice little shot of espresso after my workouts, and a mug of coffee on the way into work.  This is probably waaaaayyyy too much caffeine, but I’m dragging.

Because I’m dragging, and it’s the first full week back to work, I wanted to have some easy meals to be able to fix for us.  The GIANT batch of soup I made this weekend helped with warming me up throughout the week, and Mini Me loves eating soup, but sometimes you just want a little something different.  Different, yet easy.  Enter cobb salad.  To me, it feels a little more like summer when I eat salads.  Don’t ask me why, but cheers me up a bit.  I’m funny like that, I know.

Easy Cobb Salad for Two

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Ingredients:

  • 9 ounces romaine mix (one bag, I used Dole)
  • 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped (I cheated, bought precooked and peeled eggs from Eggland’s Best)
  • 1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled
  • ½ avocado, about three ounces
  • 4 ounces ham, chopped (cheated again, bought the pre chopped stuff)
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons ranch dressing (I like Walden Farms)

Feel free to add other ingredients for your tastes or macros!

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Directions:

Prepare all ingredients.

This took me about two minutes.  I split the bag of lettuce between two bowls.  I used a fancy egg masher (like the one in this little set – Multi Function Kitchen Tool) and easily mashed my eggs.  Measured and crumbled my block of blue cheese (less expensive than the already crumbled cheese).  Sliced my avocado and weighed it to be sure I was getting the right amounts.  I was a little over, so I let Mini snack on some pieces – she loves it and I really can’t blame her.  Weighed and split the ham between the two bowls (chicken would be a good addition for extra protein, too).  Used my kitchen sheers to cut my green onion directly into the salad bowls.   Measured and poured my dressing into the bowls.

Viola!  Yummy salad done and in a hurry.

Sure – I could have done something fancy or taken the time to prep all of the ingredients myself, but if it’s healthy, yummy, and makes us all happy and think of summer (ok maybe that is just me), why not?

Enjoy!

Screw You, Wake Up, Be Awesome

I was going to post another recipe today, but instead changed my mind

Most people that have met me would say that I am one of the most confident people that they know.  I will talk to anyone about anything for any reason.  I love meeting new people.  I love trying new things.  That is just who I am.  I have met numerous friends this way – near and far (hello to those in Germany/Luxemburg/Canada and all across the US).   I have had some awesome life and career experiences because of this.  I wouldn’t change this for the world.

Deep down, I am the most insecure person that I know.  I am terrified that I am being judged every moment of every day for any reason.  I am always worried that someone won’t like me for one reason or another, that I’m not a good enough or mother or sister or daughter or friend, that people might find me gross because I was fat or because I’m still not at my goal, that my teeth aren’t straight enough or white enough, that my stretch marks and loose skin on my stomach will freak people out, and numerous other reasons.  Many of these things are not even rational, I know this, but they are all part of who I am.

While I am able to shake my feelings of insecurity while I have interactions with others, as soon as I am alone with my thoughts they come back.  Time spent in my head is not time well spent.

What can I do to get over these feelings?  Keep getting my workouts done?  Keep cooking?  Keep blogging?  Try to be a better person all around?  Sure, those might work.   I think I’m going to choose to say “Screw You, Wake Up, Be Awesome” anytime I start thinking like that.  Deep down I know better… I just need to convince myself.