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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DIY Recycled Chalkboard Canisters

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 love finding new purposes for everyday items. I’ve also found that chalkboard paint is an easy, and versatile, way to transform these items.

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I’ve been buying these Kirkland Signature Unsalted Mixed Nuts for at least a year now, and I buy one container about every month. As you can imagine, that adds up to a lot of plastic!

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At first, I was just recycling the containers as normal, not even thinking about giving them another purpose.

A few months ago, I was re-organizing my kitchen and realized that I had began saving a handful of these containers, maybe 3 or 4 of them. I had also recently re-done a room in our house to be the kids’ playroom, and had some leftover chalkboard paint. [*NOTE: There’s also a product called chalk paint that is completely different from chalkBOARD paint. It’s important to note that they are not interchangeable.) Then it hit me to paint these containers with chalkboard paint and use them as uniform organizers for my kitchen. I chose to use chalkboard paint, because it can go over any surface without priming or sanding (making it easier on me!).

I don’t have a ton of space in my kitchen, and I’m always looking for ways to maximize what space I do have while keeping it organized so I don’t get overwhelmed. These containers were perfect because they can hold quite a bit of product (coconut flour, almond flour, dark chocolate, whey isolate, etc.) and they fit easily in my cupboards or on my pantry shelves.

First, remove the outer labels from the containers. It was a pleasant surprise that the labels on my containers came off fairly easily. There was some leftover sticker residue, which I used a little Goo Gone to remove.

Then clean the whole inside and outside with regular dish soap and water, and let it dry completely.

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Next comes the chalkboard paint!

You can choose to paint all of the sides, or just one – or really, any pattern you want! Whatever makes your life easier, go for it.

I used foam brushes to paint the containers. They gave a clean, smooth finish and were easy to use.

All that’s left is to let the paint dry! It really doesn’t take long, it took maybe an hour for mine to dry all the way (and that’s pretty generous).

Fill it up with whatever your heart desires, and label with colorful chalk.

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I used this same method on a few other items in my kitchen (a utensil canister and glass spice jars) which worked equally as well as the plastic containers.

These containers have been the easiest, most convenient kitchen canisters ever! They stack, store a lot of product, and they all match.

10 Reasons Why You Need Cast Iron in Your Life

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!

What’s all the fuss about cast iron? Are they really that useful? Are they high maintenance? What exactly do you *do* with cast iron?

I’ll answer all these questions with tips on how to make it last 100 years.

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First off, cast iron is not a new thing. Grandmas in the South will tell you all about their cast iron that they received as wedding gifts 50 (or more) years ago. That’s the beauty of cast iron – when you take care of it (which is not hard, AT ALL) it will last forever.

These are my 10 Reasons Why You Need Cast Iron in Your Life:

  1. Cast Iron is non-stick. Season your cast iron with coconut oil, bacon fat, or store-bought lard and nothing will stick to those babies. Which also means you can use less oil when cooking.
  2. It’s easy to maintain. Most of the time, I can clean my cast iron by simply wiping it with a damp paper towel. Really, it’s that easy. However, for the occasions when there are some stuck-on bits from cooking, place some warm water over the affected area and wait a few minutes. Most of the time, water is enough to lift the tough bits, but if it isn’t just use a gentle plastic scrubber. Do not use soap with cast iron. I’ll say it again – DO NOT CLEAN CAST IRON WITH SOAP. Soap removes the seasoning, which removes the non-stick property. And, for the love, never EVER put it in the dishwasher. Just don’t.
  3. It holds temperature. Cast iron retains and distributes heat very evenly. That’s why it’s great for baking, frying, and searing.
  4. Iron is good for you. While cast iron doesn’t leach chemicals, like some other coated nonstick cookware, it does fortify your food with iron. Iron deficiency is fairly common worldwide, especially among women. Cooking food in cast iron will fortify your food with a small percentage of iron. Cooking something acidic, like tomato sauce, in cast iron will raise iron levels by nearly 20 times.
  5. You can grill year-round. I adore my combo cast iron grill/griddle. You can have the smoky, char-grilled  flavors of summer all year without having to step foot outside. Just like the skillets, the grill retains heat and you get the beautiful grill marks and flavor with less of the hassle.
  6. No more pancake accidents. I had non-stick electric griddles for YEARS. Then, one day I couldn’t get through a batch of pancakes because every. single. one. would stick to my griddle. I used oil, I tried different temperatures, and still would have at least half my batter in crumbles and pancake remnants. Then, I got my cast iron grill/griddle, and everything changed. No more burnt or sticking pancakes! I wish I had saved myself the headache years ago.
  7. Pass it on to your kids and grandkids. No joke, my cast iron pans will probably outlive me. Those suckers can take a beating! You can drop, bang, and even scorch them all you want and they’ll still come out looking perfect. It’s really hard to actually hurt or mess these things up.
  8. Cheap in price, but not in practice. You know those kitchen gizmos you get for cheap (as in very little money) knowing they won’t last? This isn’t one of those. Cast iron cookware is very affordable, and it will last forever (See also #7). If you’re the garage-saling type (which I am ^_~), I’m willing to bet you could find some cast iron pans for a couple bucks. People will toss perfectly good pans simply because they don’t know how to properly season them. Madness! (If you’re ever in need of re-seasoning your pans, check out this guide on how to do it.)
  9. It’s versatile. You can cook anything from bacon and eggs, to cornbread, steak, chili, stews, and skillet desserts. You can also use cast iron on any cooktop: ceramic, gas, electric, you name it. Also, how many pans do you know of that can go from the stovetop, to the oven, straight to the table? I mean, really I’m saving you from doing too many dishes, if nothing else.
  10. Iron builds muscle. OK, these cast iron tools are HEAVY. At the very least, you’ll build your biceps working with cast iron.

Now that we’ve established why you should have cast iron, you may be wondering, “What can I make with it?” I’m glad you asked. ^_^

Here are a few of my favorite cast iron grill/griddle recipes:

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And here are some for cast iron skillets/Dutch ovens:

Burgers:

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Baked Goods:

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Meats and Sides:

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Soups/Stews/Chili:

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Here are some bonus recipes from a few of my blogger friends:

Sweets:

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Lunch/Dinner:

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Do you have cast iron in your kitchen? What are some of your favorite  recipes using cast iron?

So You Wanna Be A Trim Healthy Mama…

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’m not going to lie – it’s pretty great being a Trim Healthy Mama (and, no, I don’t get paid to say that). I don’t have to count calories or feel deprived. I can still eat bread, fruit, butter, and cheese. Best of all, my body feels good from the inside out.

As a former “newbie,” I know the plan and lifestyle can feel daunting, or even confusing, at first. So, I’m here to give you my best tips for starting (or restarting) the Trim Healthy Mama Plan.

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  1. Keep. It. Simple. The best way to implement big changes in your diet or lifestyle, is to keep things simple. Know the basics of the plan for S and E meals. Make yourself notes, charts, graphic sketches whatever helps you keep the information fresh in your mind. Stick to recipes in the original book or THM cookbook, to start. Once you know the ins and outs of the plan, then you can venture out to the many great THM blogs for more inspiration.
  2. Find your support system. I was lucky to have my mother-in-love helping me with my first THM steps. I was always asking her questions and trying the recipes. Having her support and knowledge was incredibly important, not to mention helpful, in those first months. Ask a friend to go in with you. Head over to the THM support pages on Facebook and ask for a mentor, pen pal, or heck, a new friend. It will be a life sanity saver.
  3. Set yourself up for success. Busy working mom? Homeschooling mom with a few kids in your flock? Working and/or going to school full-time? Use your time wisely. You may not have much time to spare, so what you get is precious and it has to be used to your advantage. Plan your free time. Pick a day during the week to plan your meals (not just dinner – breakfast, snacks, and lunches too!). Scour the weekly ads of the stores in your area, make your list, and shop. Pick a day for meal prep, and get most of the work for the week out of the way. If you can, plan a few crockpot meals during the week that you can set and forget. Yes, you’re busy, but you are NOT too busy for yourself.
  4. Don’t be afraid. Making changes can feel difficult. Hello, we’re humans. Creatures of habit. None of us like change. But you know what? We adapt to change. Changing can be real gut-wrenchingly scary at first, BUT…we get over that. Once you get over that fear, guess what happens? Success. Everyone messes up a little at first, and you shouldn’t be scared to do that either. Push past your comfort zone. Try new things. Because that’s where the magic happens!
  5. Ask questions. There are SO MANY THM Facebook groups out there. The main group, Purists, Drive-Thru Sues, NSI (No Special Ingredients), Allergen Free, Turtle Losers, and Pregnant/Nursing just to name a few. Use them to your advantage! Ask questions. Look at the posts. LEARN. Trust me, it’s incredibly helpful having those groups around. Even as a “seasoned” THMer, I still use those groups for questions. When you learn the plan, and can answer member questions, jump in with your knowledge and keep the ball rolling. The groups also have files where you can access sweetener conversion charts, special recipes, fuel charts, and more. Again, use these things to aid in your success. They’re there for YOU, and they’re free.
  6. One at a time. Take it one meal, snack, and day at a time. Focus on what’s in front of you, and make it the best you can.
  7. Out with the old, in with the new. If it’s not on plan, either put it out of sight, out of mind or donate it. Again, it’s about setting yourself up for success. Can you really be successful with that Duncan Hines brownie mix glaring at you from inside the pantry? -_- Maybe not. I know, I know. “But what about the waste?” Food pantries are always in need of donations! Call a few that are central to you, and find out if what you have is OK to donate.
  8. Organize. I love my THM ingredients – gluten free flours, Pyure, extracts, collagen, whey isolate, gelatin, xanthan gum, and chocolate! I gotta have my chocolate. I’m also spatially challenged when it comes to my kitchen. Small cabinets, no pantry, and next to zero counter space. I got creative, painted and re-purposed some Costco-sized plastic containers for most of my ingredients. It’s especially helpful since I buy a lot of ingredients in bulk. You can also use clear plastic bins for extracts, spices, or the like in your pantry. They also double as excellent refrigerator organizers. Check out Pinterest for more organizing ideas.
  9. Look beyond the menu. If it’s one thing I’ve found out as a THMer on the go, it’s that you have more options than you know about. Options, that might not even be on a menu! You can still stay on plan at places like Jimmy John’s, Chik Fil A, Starbuck’s, Chipotle, Olive Garden, and even your favorite neighborhood Mexican/Tex-Mex joint. Jimmy John’s has the unwich (lettuce wrap). You can order breakfast wraps at Chik Fil A minus the wrap. Breve lattes at Starbuck’s, and bring your own sweetener. Burrito bowls at Chipotle minus the rice, beans, and corn. You can even have any pasta dish at Olive Garden served over steamed broccoli – who knew! My family and I love to hit our neighborhood Mexican restaurants, and I’ll usually partake in fajitas, minus the tortillas, or chilaquiles with grilled meat and veggies, minus the chips. All of this to say, just ask for what you need! Most restaurants are happy to oblige.
  10. Step away from the scale. It’s easy to be motivated by the number on the scale moving downward. It’s even easier to become obsessed with it. THM isn’t just about getting the scale number moving. In fact, you may not even see that number move much at first. Which is why you need to turn your focus inward – energy levels, blood sugar levels, fatigue, bloating, headaches. You’ll feel differences in these areas first, possibly before the number on the scale moves too drastically.

And last, but certainly not least, remember who you’re doing this for – you. Be kind to yourself. Celebrate your victories (not with cheat meals). And remember this is not a short-term deal. You’re in it for you, and you’re in it for the long haul.

Meal-Plan Monday: Oct. 17 -21

Happy Monday, again!

I have lots of fun things on the menu this week. You’ll see my Halloween spirit shining through, because I can barely contain it anymore.

  • Monday, Oct. 17  – All-beef Halloween-themed mummy-dogs. I enjoyed a few of these with some Parmesan Whisps on the side.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18 – Homemade gluten-free chicken tenders and mashed cauliflower.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19  – Butternut squash and apple soup. I had this on the menu last week, and we ended up having leftovers that night instead.
  • Thursday, Oct. 20 – Nacho-stuffed jack-o-lantern peppers. I keep seeing the jack-o-lantern pepper idea on Food Network, so I’ll try it and report on if it’s actually worth the effort.
  • Friday, Oct. 21 – “S” style turkey dinner. I have a few turkey breasts, to which I’ll make some S-friendly dressing and green beans to accompany it.

I’m starting to test Thanksgiving meal ideas – This week I’ll do “S” style (which I figure many people will try to do on the real day), and in a few weeks I’ll switch it up for “E.” A fellow blogger I roll with just added a really tasty looking recipe for homemade cranberry “sauce” last week, which I want to try. I completely hate cranberries (especially that canned jelly), but I will go out on a limb for y’all. I’m also feeling like making a Halloween-style trifle this week with homemade pudding and chocolate cookie crumbles. Stay tuned!

The Best Chocolate Cake You’ll Ever Eat

My daughter’s birthday party was yesterday, and it was a blast. Friends and family were there. It was a gorgeous day, and my sweet almost 4-year-old was incredibly happy.

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Which brings me to her cake. I originally planned on doing a Neopolitan cake (like the ice cream), because she couldn’t decide exactly what she wanted. After a long afternoon at another birthday party, I went straight home to bake. I tried modifying a recipe that actually comes on the package for Bob’s Red Mill Blanched Almond Flour. It was for straight up almond cake – I figured, make one layer plain vanilla, another add strawberry puree, and the last add chocolate. Sounds simple, right?

Wrong.

I baked the three layers, and although they had leavening agent in them they refused to rise. They came out of the oven dry, dense, and flat as a damn pancake.

UGH. I hated doing it, but I had to throw it all out and start again.

I cleared the change with the birthday girl – chocolate layers with peanut butter frosting. She was super happy and I got to work.

I did some short research on leavening gluten-free cakes, and decided it was best to go with a triple threat. I used baking soda, baking powder, and used a modified buttermilk to keep the cake moist and help it react with the leavening agents.

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The sprinkles are totally off-plan, but were a nice festive touch. 

The Best Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cake (THM S)

Multiple Servings (at least a dozen)

  • 1 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 c ground flax
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti)
  • 1/4 c Pyure or Gentle Sweet
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 c butter or coconut oil, melted
  • 2 3/4 c unsweetened almond milk (you can use vanilla or plain)
  • 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar and let stand for 5-7 minutes, until the milk sours slightly. This will act as your buttermilk.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, vanilla, espresso powder, and butter (or coconut oil) in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Add the almond buttermilk and beat again. Begin adding the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing well in between but not over-mixing. The batter is about as thick as chocolate milk.

Spray 3 8-in round cake pans with coconut oil, and divide the batter amongst the three pans. Place them around the center of the oven, for even heating, and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Take them out, let cool for 5-7 minutes until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan. Gently turn out the cakes onto cooling racks, and make the frosting.

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting (THM S)

Makes enough for a 3-layer cake

  • 2 1/2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1 c smooth peanut butter
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c Pyure or ground Gentle Sweet
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 heaping Tsp crunchy peanut butter, optional (adds great texture at the end)

Cream together the butter, smooth peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Begin to add the sweetener, a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well. When the mixture reaches your desired level of sweetness, add the heavy cream and whip 2-3 minutes. Add the crunchy peanut butter, and whip another 2 minutes.

NOTE* At first, my frosting had a little “crunch” from me not grinding up the Pyure. However, over time (an hour or two) it actually dissolved. By the time we were eating the cake, the sweetener had dissolved and everything was cool. You can grind up the sweetener beforehand to avoid this, if you’re serving immediately.

NOTE** I highly recommend refrigerating this cake (for 30 minutes to an hour) after you frost it. It will help the frosting firm up and all the flavors come together. However, if you don’t have time, leaving it at room temperature will be perfectly fine. It was a warm Georgia day, and by the time we were enjoying the cake at the park the frosting had softened back up, and was equally delicious.

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In short, this was the BEST chocolate cake. Seriously. My friends and family (with the exception of my mother-in-love) are not THMers at all, and were literally begging me for the recipe as they were eating it. My friend’s little boy, who can’t do sweets because they make him sick, ate an entire adult-sized piece of cake by himself.

WIN.

TIPS* I had considered doing a chocolate ganache drip on top, but ultimately decided against it. One thing against it was time – I just didn’t have time for another element. However, if you have time for it, I recommend refrigerating the cake prior to the drip. The frosting is very soft at room temperature, and I wouldn’t want it to break form on you. A ganache drip looks incredibly elegant, and the only labor involved is literally a pour. It also helps hide frosting mishaps ^_~.

Meal-Plan Monday: October 3 – 7

Happy Monday, y’all!

I know meal-planning isn’t many people’s strong suit – I wouldn’t even call myself a planner. Which is the perfect reason for starting this series!

I’m a self-proclaimed shopaholic, especially when it comes to groceries. I don’t know what comes over me in the grocery store, but I am absolutely mesmerized by the beautiful food, pantry items, and new items to experiment with. All of this almost always results in me buying too much food. Being the penny-pincher at heart that I am, I hate to have waste, which has been happening a lot lately. Leftovers that don’t get eaten, food that’s never used and goes bad, etc. it hurts my heart!

In an effort to recognize this problem, and hopefully resolve it, I present to you Meal-Plan Monday. Every Monday  I will present you with my meal plan for the week, linking recipes when possible, and I will post my own recipes as the week goes on (which I’ll link here at the end of the week).

Without further ado, I give you my meal plan:

  • Monday, Oct. 3 Arroz con pollo (Spanish chicken and rice). This will be a one-pot meal, and a THM E.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 4 –  Cheesy spaghetti squash alfredo with shrimp. This is a THM S.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5 – Chicken Tabbouleh Salads with quinoa and roasted sweet potatoes. This is an E.
  • Thursday, Oct. 6 –Turkey sausage-stuffed acorn squash. This is an E.
  • Friday, Oct. 7 – Fathead pizza and Greek salad. This is an S.

There you have it folks! What day do you meal-plan and shop? Are you a good planner?

Minny’s (THM) Chocolate Pie

I’m going to start this post by saying that developing this recipe was not easy. It took a few tries, BUT I finally got a winner out of it.

If you are not familiar with Minny, she baked the most amazingly decadent chocolate pies in all of Mississippi [in The Help]. A few years ago, I was inspired to make one of Minny’s pies for my family during Christmas. In short, it was a huge hit.

This year, I was determined to bring it back, AND make it healthier. Which brings me to the process…

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It wasn’t what you would call, “pretty.”

This picture was actually from my second attempt – the first was so horrid it was thrown out immediately. But! Through my trial in error, there are many advantages for you – one, I have specific tips that will help yours be a success the first time, and two, it shows you that not every little thing that comes out of my kitchen is “picture perfect.” Perfection is a hard standard to live by, and I’m 100% a human who makes mistakes. I’m also very stubborn in achieving what I want. One try didn’t stop me. Two tries didn’t stop me. Three tries almost made me cry, but it still didn’t stop me! All this to say, don’t feel discouraged if things don’t work the first time. I’m still understanding that there’s a learning curve with leading a healthy lifestyle, and it doesn’t come overnight delivery.

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Third time’s the charm!

Minny’s Chocolate Pie (THM S)

Crust:

  • 3/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c coconut flour
  • 1/2 c (or 1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 c Swerve or Gentle Sweet
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg

Filling:

  • 3/4 c Pyure or Gentle Sweet
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti)
  • 4 Tsp melted unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Preheat an oven to 350.

In a food processor, combine the ingredients for the crust and pulse until a dough ball forms.

Roll the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper, form a ball, then press it down into a disk with your hands. NOTE* Don’t work it too much with your hands, just light touches, because you don’t want the butter to get too soft. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll the dough out to about 1/4 in. in thickness.

Turn the dough out into a pie plate or 9in cake pan.

HUGE NOTE* My first 2 tries were in a ceramic pie plate. Nothing fancy, but it also didn’t work well. The crust would get too wet in some places, and completely stuck to the plate in others. SO FRUSTRATING. However, it worked perfectly when I used a nonstick cake round. I’m assuming the round offered more even heating throughout, which kept the crust crispy, not burnt, and allowed the slices to pop free. Choose wisely, my friend.

Press the dough evenly into the bottom and sides, removing the parchment carefully. Prick the sides and bottom with a fork, and crimp the top if you wish.

Take a 12in. piece of foil, cut into 3s, and cover the upper crust of your pie to prevent burning. I also then placed the pie plate onto a baking sheet for easier transfer in/out of the oven.

Bake the crust for 12 minutes at 350.

While that’s happening, prepare the filling.

Beat together the sweetener, cocoa, and melted butter with a hand mixer. Add the eggs, and beat for 3 minutes. Add the almond milk, cream, vanilla, and salt and beat to combine. (NOTE* Yes, the mixture is watery. Trust me, pie will be made out of it. I’m about to go all Barefoot Contessa on you – use a really good cocoa powder. Really, it makes a difference.)

Pour the mixture into the pre-baked crust and say a little prayer (just kidding). Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350. When finished, the outer part will be set and have a soft bounce to the touch, and the center will be soft-set with a little jiggle to it. The top of the pie gets a brownie-like texture as it cools while retaining the soft, fudgy core.

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Yes, this picture is from pie #2. It was prettier, OK?

Here’s the hard part: let the pie cool completely to room temperature before slicing. The pie can be chilled for a firmer texture – it won’t impart any negative moisture onto the crust. However, it’s served best at room temp with a big ol’ dollop of fresh whipped cream.

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I mean, you can share…but why?

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MMM. Chocolate…

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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?