THM Bloggers Spring Giveaway!

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!

Spring is in the air! To celebrate, I got together with some of my blogger friends on the THM Bloggers Seasonal Recipes page to bring y’all an awesome Spring surprise – MONEY.

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That’s right! One lucky winner of this giveaway will receive a $125 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to all, and it ends on April 1 so make sure you get in your entry. The drawing will be on April 2nd.

Enter the giveaway here.

Good luck! And happy Spring. ❤

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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.

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?

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.

Fighting a Hangover When You’re Not 21 Anymore

Let’s start by saying I don’t drink very much. I’m a mom cliche – I drink wine on the hard days, but I would much rather get down on some bourbon and Coke.

Last night, I had my 10-year high school reunion. I was majorly on the fence about going in the first place. I actually talk to a few folks from school, whom I wasn’t close with at that time, but we’ve gotten to know each other better through parenthood or other shared interests.

Enter last night’s reunion.

I’ll go ahead and put this out there – Facebook makes “in person” stuff Awkward. Yes, capital “A” Awkward.

In some ways, you already know details about these people – if they’re married, have kids, what they do for a living, what their hobbies are. So, it feels strange asking them, “So…what do you? What’s new?” But, you can’t just walk up to them and ask about their kids/hobbies/whathaveyou. Like my friend Beth said, “It makes you feel like a stalker.”

So, all of this Awkward had me like…

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However, I did branch out a little! I hugged people. I did the “social” thing as a semi antisocial person.

Overall, it was fun! I had a great time, caught up with old and “new” people. Not as many as I would have liked, but hey there’s Facebook for that, right?

After half a bottle of wine, a Moscow Mule, going to bed at 1, and waking up at 6:30 (damn you, body clock) I’m feeling a little sluggish. Not quite hungover, but not 100% either.

My teenage self (or my completely of-age 21-year-old self, if I’m being PC) would go grab some McDonald’s and a Coke to nurse said sluggishness.

My now 28-year-old self doesn’t want to have to pull extra gym sessions to burn greasy nonfood.

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So, here are my 5 Tips for Nursing a Hangover: 

  1. As soon as you wake up, splash your face with cool water. Not  hella cold. Cold with a half turn on the hot knob. Splish splash, dab your face gently with your fingertips, and pat dry with a towel.
  2. MOISTURIZE. Alcohol is dehydrating to your body and your skin. Slap some moisturizer on, and hit your eyes with either eye cream or a serum with a roller ball. (I like this one from Garnier.)
  3. HYDRATE. Again, alcohol depletes your hydration. Try to drink 24-32oz of water within the first hour of waking up. Doing this also helps give your body energy, even if there’s no hangover involved.
  4. Eat something green. If eggs are your thing, scramble them with some chopped spinach. Or, you can do like me and go for a liquid morning. I did a strawberry smoothie with a half scoop of Vega Protein and Greens and a half scoop of pristine whey (mixed with 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 c unsweetened almond milk, and 1 c water).
  5. Drink something energizing. If you’re a tea person, drink tea. If you’re a coffee person, drink the coffee. Keep it light – sweetener (no sugar! I’m a strict Truvia user, no chemicals), half and half, and a scoop of collagen powder.