Prep Don’t Fret! Challenge: Week 2

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

Welcome to Week 2 of the Prep Don’t Fret! Challenge! This week is full of freshness and easy-to-make meals.

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Your breakfast make-ahead this week will be overnight oats. These are incredibly versatile, and you can make them on Sunday/Monday for the whole week. I also love making them in wide-mouth Mason jars for mornings on-the-go. If you need to order the whey protein isolate, you can do so through this link. However, Sprouts carries unflavored pure whey isolate in their bulk section for an excellent price if they are convenient to you.

Check out these variations to use throughout your week: blueberry lemon, brownie batter, chunky monkey, coconut chia, and almond butter & jelly.

Your Dinners/Rollovers this week will be:

  1. Salmon en Papillote – prep to the wrapping stage up to 1 day ahead of time, then bake as directed. Yes, you will need a lot of salmon this week. I love buying a big plank of it from Costco – it’s always fresh, and they take excellent care in butchering it. All you have to do is filet it into portions.
  2. Salmon Niçoise Salad – you’ll use that leftover salmon here for these beautiful lunch or dinner salads! Good news is, most of the prep is already done after you cook the salmon. You can boil the eggs up to 2 days ahead of time (but make sure you peel them right away! Just leave them whole after that). All that’s left is to assemble the salad right before serving.
  3. Lamb Spanakopita Burgers – prep the tzatziki ahead of time – you’ll need it for this meal and another throughout the week. I put these burgers on top of salad for an S meal with lots of greens (plus it eliminates the need for a side). You could also wrap these in a Joseph’s Pita (just half for a THM S meal). Either way, the burgers are easy enough to make the night of.
  4. Chicken Tabbouleh Salads – prep the tabbouleh up to 2 days ahead of time. Grill the chicken up to 5 days ahead of time. You can also use the leftover tzatziki from the spanakopita burgers as the dressing, and add a little mint to it the night of serving. These salads are great as a quick, light dinner or lunch.

Here is your Weekly Menu Planner for this week. And here is your Printable Shopping List for this week – don’t forget to add the ingredients for your oatmeal variations to the list!

Prep Don’t Fret! Challenge Week 1

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission off of purchases made using these links. If you’re interested in fitness, the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle, or just living a more healthy life, please consider using one or more of the links below. The money made helps me feed my growing family and keeps this blog running with free recipes. Thank you!

I am so excited to share this meal prep challenge with you guys! Prepping meals ahead of time has made my hectic life so much easier. Dinner has been a breeze, and breakfast has been a no-brainer.

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Here are the specifics of the challenge…

I’m providing you with the links to the recipes for this week, a menu planning template, and a shopping list based on these recipes. I have planned 4 dinners and one week’s worth of breakfast for you. You will print off the shopping list, mark off what you already have in your cabinets, and snag the rest at the store. Then you’ll print off the planning template and plan these meals throughout your week (remember dinner leftovers can become fabulous lunches too!) on whichever days you want, and fill in the holes with leftovers or any other plan you want to make. All that’s left to do is follow the recipes and pick your prep day! I found it really easy to prep 2-3 meals in one day (for me that day was Sunday, but it’s your choice) and reheat when we were ready.

Here are your recipes:

BreakfastPaleo Sausage and Veggie Omelette Bites (THM S) If you’re following THM, follow the recipe as-is for a perfect S breakfast every morning. You can remix them with sour cream, cheese, salsa, or any other S-friendly toppings you desire. Prep the complete recipe, and store them in gallon bags in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. Reheat them in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds at a time until thoroughly heated.

Dinners:

  1. Sunday Bolognese (THM S) – Prep the recipe completely, and reheat it by gently heating it in a sauce pan with a lid on low heat until warm and bubbly. Serve with spiralized zucchini or Dreamfields noodles. You can add a side salad (add those ingredients to your shopping list!) or any one of my S-biscuit recipes (make sure they’re on your list also, if needed).
  2. Clean Eating Shepherds Pie (THM E) – Prep the recipe up until oven baking, cover the top with plastic wrap. When you’re ready to eat, take the plastic off and switch it for foil. Bake covered for about 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake about another 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. You can add another E-friendly vegetable side, if you like, but this meal is very hearty and it isn’t necessary.
  3. Crockpot Fiesta Ranch Chicken Tacos (THM E) – Crockpot meal! Prep the chicken in its entirety and store in the fridge until you’re ready to eat. Heat it gently on the stove, microwave, or warm it in the crock. You can also remix this as a salad for lunch or dinner another day during the week.
  4. Low Carb Chicken and Spinach White Pizza (THM S) – This meal you can prep the night of, and it doesn’t take a ton of time. Follow the recipe for the low carb pizza dough, and you can either use my flavors here or choose your own (add those ingredients to your list!). You can also add a side salad with my Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

That leaves three nights during the week where you can fill in your holes with leftovers or your own choices.

Print off your Weekly Menu Planner to plan out your meals this week, then print off your Week 1 Shopping List. I included ALL ingredients needed in the above recipes, so feel free to mark off what you already have in your pantry then pick up the rest on your shopping trip.

If you have any questions about the challenge, feel free to post them here or join us on Facebook.

Now get to prepping!

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People Walked Out of My Class & That’s OK

If you’re thinking this is going to be a pity party, then you’re at the wrong house.

As a fitness instructor you have to have a pretty thick skin. Sometimes people will come to your class for the first time, decide they hate it halfway through, and never give you a second chance. Sometimes people who have come to love your classes will suddenly stop coming. Rarely, people will tell you what they actually think of your classes, the good and bad of it.

A few weeks ago, some classes at my home YMCA branch became available and some of the participants were eagerly anticipating me to take over. Don’t get me wrong, I love the work and the group, but I didn’t want to jump in right away. I was hesitant for a few reasons, and even more so when I was offered one of the classes. I’ve taken the class on a trial basis over the next two weeks, and I’m finding it might be really important for me to stay.

My class this morning was not out of the ordinary. I decided to do floor barre which integrates dance, coordination, and stability.

From the get-go, I had one lady who was positively flabbergasted at the thought of doing barre without the bars (They’re the freestanding type, and honestly I hate wasting time setting them up when I know they won’t be used. I would rather spend that time having them sweat!). I reassured her that everything was going to be OK, and that it was definitely still going to be barre, just a different type. She gave me all of maybe 5 minutes after the warm-up before she high-tailed it.

Another lady came late to the party, and left after our plank work (a little more than halfway through).

Another lady was there as a first-timer. I welcomed her, paid attention to her. She left after our leg stretch (halfway through).

My class isn’t for those ladies, and that’s OK. Yes, my class is different. You can expect to work hard, sweat, be challenged, go home happy, and be sore later. For these reasons, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea.

I don’t teach the way I do for them.

I teach this  way for people who want to make the most of their gym time. I may only get them for that one day a week, and I (and they) have to make sure it counts. Because really…

If you go to the gym for an hour to workout, and you don’t sweat, what the hell are you doing?

No Sugar, No Problem

It’s Day 2 of the 10-Day Clean Eating Quickstart, and I rolled out the big guns – eliminating sugar.

It’s no secret that sugar, in all its forms, is not good for you. What you may be surprised to hear is that sugar is in everything from ketchup to dry seasoning blends. (Check your labels for these 61 names for “sugar.”)

Eliminating sugar from your diet will enhance your mental clarity, stabilize your blood sugar, boost metabolism, and so much more.

You  might be thinking, “It will be IMPOSSIBLE to cut sweets completely!” Not so. All you have to do, is be smarter about your alternatives.

What about “sugar free” substitutes? Eating clean does not include processed chemical sweeteners. I know what you’re thinking, but stick with me things will get better. Cutting sugar from your life will NOT suck!

What about honey or agave? Some in the clean eating community engage in these sweeteners. I do not, and I’ll tell you why. Not all honey is created equal. In fact, about 75% of what you see on grocery store shelves is heavily processed with nearly all of it being made in China.

Honey has many healing and healthy attributes, when it is raw and unfiltered. However, it also contains a high amount of fructose which increases insulin resistance. If you’re diabetic or overweight, honey should be avoided. If you’re healthy, honey can be beneficial in moderation.

“Agave though! It’s good for you, right?” Wrong. The research on agave has come full circle, and an ingredient which health pros used to tout is not as good as we thought. Although agave is low in glucose, it’s alternately higher in fructose than any other sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup. It not only increases insulin resistance, but also is converted to fat more rapidly.

What are my other options? You have lots of clean options! Xylitol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol that has a similar look and taste to that of sugar, but does not come with the harmful dental or blood sugar side effects. Some in the community are uneasy about the way it’s made, and worry that it may carry heavy metals, but it’s a personal choice. For some, xylitol alone can be rough on the gut. If it is, there are still other options. Xyla, Trim Healthy Mama, and Xylosweet are a few of the market options

Erythritol is also a sugar alcohol like xylitol that is both non-glycemic and non-caloric. That means is has zero affect on the blood sugar and carries no calories. It has a taste and texture similar to that of sugar, minus the harmful side effects. Erythritol is also the easiest sugar alcohol to digest. Truvia, Pyure, Trim Healthy Mama, and Swerve are good options to name a few. NOTE* You still must be a label reader – Truvia makes a “Baking Blend” which contains sugar.

Stevia is a sweetener from a plant that carries no calories. It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar, so there is an adjustment to learning how much to use. With it being so sweet, it’s sometimes surrounded by other additives like maltitol (Stevia in the Raw, lookin’ at you!) which are not beneficial. It’s best to buy stevia extract liquid or powder. Stevia is widely available in places like Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Publix, and Walmart. Again, be a label reader – brands like PureVia and Stevia in the Raw both actually contain sugar. Just because the product contains stevia, doesn’t mean it’s ONLY stevia.

Just because you’re cutting sugar doesn’t mean sweets are off limits. You have choices, and sugar or chemicals do not have to be one of them.

 

Transformation Tuesday: June 2016

I hate this post already. It makes me uncomfortable putting so much of myself out there, but I’m doing it anyway.

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These are my very own transformation pictures – on the left was me in September 2015, and the right was taken today.

To explain a little, let’s start at the beginning.

September 2015, I had been a fitness instructor for about 3 months. I was doing Barre somewhere between 2 and 4 times per week, amongst other things.

I wasn’t exactly eating horribly, but it definitely wasn’t healthy either.

Flash forward to January 2016, and I decided to take a tough HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class at my gym as often as my schedule would allow. While I could tell my fitness level was elevating week to week, I wasn’t seeing the changes in my body that I wanted.

If I’m going to be real honest, I’ll say that I was eating pizza and fast food 3-4 times per week, naively thinking that my time in the gym was cancelling out my less-than-stellar diet. Wrong. The scale wasn’t moving. My body fat was staying put. And even though I worked out all the time, you probably couldn’t tell by looking at me.

March 2016, I finally came to my senses. I realized that I had been “treating” myself with food, as a learned behavior, way too often. Resulting in all my hard work at the gym being negated. I did away with that behavior, and decided to treat myself with a challenge – a bikini.

I have not bought, much less been IN, a bikini in at least 6 years. Between not being in shape, and having 2 kids it just didn’t happen.

I bought myself a cute little number from Victoria’s Secret, and immediately I felt anxious. A bikini? You mean basically-as-legally-naked-as -you-can -get-in-public? Bring on big, baggy sweats I already feel overexposed just thinking about it. HERE GOES NOTHING.

I knew I had to make a change, and I decided to dig in on changing my habits. My Mother-in-Law had been trying to get me on the Trim Healthy Mama (THM) bandwagon for months, and I was skeptical. How could  I be sure it would work for me? Was the food any good? Was it something we could do as a family?

Truth is, I didn’t know the answers to any of those questions until after I gave it an honest try. When I really started doing every day the THM way, I saw major differences. I had more energy. My body was changing. My weight was going down (FINALLY). I could see and feel muscles – a first for me.

Now, here I am, a little more than 2 months into my lifestyle change, and I can honestly say that I will be a THMer for life. Not just because of the changes in my body and weight, but because of the freedom. Nothing is rigid, and it’s totally sustainable.

If you’re feeling frustrated with where you are in your fitness journey, I strongly encourage you to consider this:

  1. Be honest with yourself about what you’re putting into your body. Are you fueling it? Overly “treating” it?
  2. Move it and shake it in a new way. A lot of people think the way to lose weight is through cardio. Yes and no. Cardio is important to fitness and heart health, however building muscle through strength training is what will help you burn more resting calories. Try a new class at your gym! Lift heavier weights. Try a new activity at least once a week to break up your routine.
  3. Love yourself at every stage. I can’t stress body love enough. Love your body for what it can do. Love your body at the beginning and middle of your journey, not just when you’ve achieved your goals. Speak positively about your body. Believe in your body’s ability.
  4. Don’t make excuses.

If I can do this, you can too. Fitness and health are learned behaviors, not God-given abilities.

21-Day Challenge: Final Week

It’s the FINAL week of our clean eating challenge. I hope you guys are feeling results – more energy, less weighed down, and better flavor.

Again, we’re freestyling breakfast and lunch, and I have given SUPER simple recipes for dinner this week. Lots of freshness, and a few one-pot wonders.

Click here to download the menu. Enjoy!

Fancy Chili with Little Effort

Over the years, I’ve started replacing beans in my chilis with different “meaty” veggies. Now, it’s to the point where my chili is mostly meat and veggies with a little bit of beans. I’m also a mom, and you know moms be trying to sneak veggies in their babies at any given chance.

I also like spice. Not necessarily heat, but I like creating flavor.

Enter – “fancy chili.”

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For whatever reason, my husband has dubbed my chili “fancy.” Maybe it’s the veggies. Maybe it’s the flavor. Who knows!

Moms also love “hands-off” meals, which is the inherent beauty in crockpot cooking. The crockpot creates a ton of depth and flavor in a relatively short amount of time. All without needing a human watching over it!

I normally enjoy my chili with a big chunk of sweet cornbread. In lieu of that, I pair it with some fluffy cloud bread. Cloud bread is an excellent canvas – you can make it go any which way you want. I have another few variations of it, and on this recipe I’ll show you two of those.

Beef and Bacon Chili with Roasted Green Chiles (THM S)

  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 c white mushrooms, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 lb 80/20 grass-fed ground beef
  • 3 slices thick-sliced bacon
  • 1 28oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c cooked black beans
  • 1 c fire roasted green chiles
  • 3 Tsp chili powder
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • dash of liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • hefty pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Start by dicing all the fresh vegetables.

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The green chiles I added came from the frozen section of Trader Joe’s. And it’s a ton of green chiles! [This recipe served as an excuse to take some of that load off me, because I wanted them for green chicken enchiladas.] I slightly defrosted them in a little bit of water, just to loosen the giant brick of chiles, before adding them straight to the crock.

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Next, start to crisp the diced bacon in a cast iron skillet. When the bacon is almost done, push it to one side of the skillet and add the ground beef. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and brown it completely.

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When the beef is done, add it, the veggies, tomatoes, chiles, and spices to the crockpot. Set it on high for 4 hours, and fuggetabattit. [In my best yankee voice.]

For the last hour, leave it uncovered and add the black beans to let a little of the liquid cook off.

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Glorious!

Cloud Bread Two Ways (THM S)

  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 Tsp ground flaxseed

This is the basic recipe for cloud bread. If you want to go savory, keep this skeleton and add any ground seasonings such as garlic powder, italian seasoning, etc. right into the batter. If you’re adding cheeses, stick to adding them on top.

If you want to go sweet with it, add 1 tsp of zero calorie sweetener (Truvia, Swerve, or equivalent) to the batter with cinnamon, pumpkin spice, vanilla bean paste, molasses, or other spices to your heart’s desire.

To start, separate your eggs into two small bowls – whites in one, yolks in the other. To the white bowl, add the xanthan gum and beat the whites to stiff peaks.

To the yolk bowl, add the cream cheese, salt, and flaxseed and beat to combine.

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Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a spatula, being careful not to deflate the whites. Fold them until you have a homogeneous mixture.

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Using an ice cream scoop, or 1/4 c measure, plop the mixture onto a sheet pan lined with foil and greased with coconut oil.

Add the parm and black pepper to the tops. On the jalapeno cheddar, I added 2 tsp of pickled jalapenos to the batter and topped the blobs with cheese.

Bake these at 350 for 20-25 minutes, or until gold brown on top.

Wait until they cool completely before trying to peel them away from the foil.

NOTE* I have done these using parchment before, and it makes them easier to peel off. It’s not difficult with the foil, but you do have to have a gentle hand.

Enjoy!

Clean Eating Challenge Week 2

A little late! Forgive me ^_^.

After heavy direction on Week 1, I’m letting y’all freestyle a little for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I think you grasped the general rule of snacking. BUT. Should you have trouble, or need inspiration, take to the page to let me know. I am happy to throw out some ideas.

Click here to download Week 2 menu.

The recipes will be posted here on the blog, and there are a few buying tips in the document. Most of what’s on the list is on sale this week at Sprouts. They have some fabulous deals this week, so try to make the trip if you can.

Happy freestyling, y’all! Remember, keep it clean. Much love!