Fit 'N' Well Mommy

Being a mommy doesn't always mean sacrifice

Holiday Survival Guide and Angie’s Popcorn Review and Giveaway!! December 7, 2012

Guess who was hanging from the lights this morning? It took Keenan several minutes to find “Peanut!” I had to prompt him to look up because he kept looking all over for her and asking, “Mommy, where is she?” He looked on the couch, in the coat closet, under the TV stand, under the coffee table, by the Christmas tree and in his toy box before I told him to look up to the ceiling, where he found her! It was SO hard for me to keep a straight face!

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Anyhow, this morning was a pancake kind of morning! I made Paleo pancakes topped with leftover coconut whipped cream and strawberries; they were SO good! It was interesting, because usually I can eat three small-medium size Paleo pancakes, but with the coconut whipped cream, two pancakes filled me up! The healthy fats in the coconut made the pancakes very filling (in a good way!).

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Speaking of healthy fats, I have one more day and then it is competition time! I’m excited, nervous and anxious all at the same time. I feel ready as I will ever be, but as I’ve said before, I just want to get it over with! I think the hardest thing is not knowing what to expect. I’m looking forward to resting tomorrow and then putting my game face on for Saturday!

On another note, I recently read an article on Health.com about surviving the holidays, which made me think about how I am managing my stress and keeping up with healthy habits (nutrition and exercise) throughout this holiday season. Since there are only two and a half weeks left until Christmas and still so much to do (at least for me!), I thought it would be good to put together my own little Holiday Survival Guide with tips on how to manage holiday stress, since I already put together a list of Healthy Holiday Eating Tips.

  • Keep up with your healthy eating habits. With so many parties to attend and things to do during this time of year, it is easy to slack off and eat more fast, processed and convenient foods or eat one too many desserts at your friend’s holiday party, especially if you are stressed (hello emotional eating!). Keep in mind that having good nutrition helps your body manage stress better. A properly fueled body can help keep your immune system strong (stress suppresses your immune system) and allow it to continue functioning at its prime to get everything checked off your to-do list! Also, by sticking to your healthy habits, you are less likely to gain those additional holiday pounds!
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is so vital to keeping your energy levels high throughout the day, in addition to keeping you in a good mood. When we are tired, we more likely to feel irritable/ cranky and also crave sugar and caffeine to provide us with energy. By going to bed at a decent time each night and giving your body adequate rest, you are more likely to manage your stress better, have more energy, thus feeling better overall and keeping up with your healthy habits of good nutrition and exercise.
  • Stay active. With so many things to do during the holiday season, exercise can be put on the back burner. Instead of making excuses of not being able to exercise, make time for it by scheduling it into your day. Take some time on your lunch break to go for a walk or workout at your gym. Or, get up early before your kids wake-up to fit in a quick workout. Even better, involve your kids by taking them on a jog or walk to the park. The more you move, the better you will feel, both mentally and physically!
  • Breathe. When we are stressed, our breathing tends to be more shallow, taking less deep breaths. Take a few minutes to stop what you are doing and take three deep breaths. When I take time to breathe, I automatically feel better, even when I am extremely stressed. Breathing allows me to focus on my breath, relaxing my body, so I am better able to finish what needs to get done (feeling less overwhelmed).
  • Enjoy every moment. Most importantly, enjoy the special time of the holidays, cherishing each moment with your family and friends. It is such a magical time, so take time to really have fun and appreciate all the moments you get to spend with your loved ones!

Now onto Angie’s Popcorn!

Angie’s Popcorn generously sent me a box of their popcorn to try a few weeks ago. I had seen their Boom Chicka Pop popcorn in stores, but hadn’t tried it, so I was super excited when I received my box! Popcorn is one of my favorite snack foods, especially Kettle Corn, the kind that is freshly made in front of you at a street fair or festival. In fact, my family and friends would probably call me a “popcorn fanatic,” because I love it so much!

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Angie’s prides itself in making small-batch kettle corn and popcorn. They only use a few ingredients and pop it fresh, batch by batch in Minnesota. They offer several different flavors: Kettle Corn, Sweet and Salty, White Cheddar, Salted Caramel, Sweet and Spicy, Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt, Boom Chicka Pop Lightly Sweet and a holiday line of Holidrizzle: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and White Chocolate Peppermint. The company was started by Angie and Dan Bastian in 2001 who wanted to start a college fund for their daughters. They tested small batches of popcorn in their kitchen and sold them at local events. The demand for their popcorn increased and in 2004, they became the official popcorn for the Minnesota Vikings, thus growing into a real business.

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I have to say, I loved all of their popcorn! I can’t say that too much about other products, but Angie’s does a great job in making good popcorn, simply (with as few ingredients as possible). The salted caramel was the first bag that we opened and my husband, mom (she was at our house the day the popcorn arrived), and Keenan were pleasantly surprised. It was excellent–not overly sweet, but still salty at the same time. My mom couldn’t stop eating it! My husband immediately opened the Sweet and Spicy (since he loves anything with spice) and fell in love. I could barely have any, because he kept the whole bag for himself! It was really good! The white cheddar was another one of my favorites, perfectly balanced with cheddar, salt and a hint of sweetness. The Boom Chicka Pop was also excellent, very fresh air-popped popcorn with a hint of salt. Lastly, the Kettle Corn was my all-time favorite (of course). I couldn’t believe how fresh and perfectly balanced the salt vs. sweet was! It tasted like it was freshly popped at a local street fair or farmer’s market! All in all, I was very impressed by Angie’s Popcorn and I can’t wait to try their holiday flavors! I will definitely be eating their popcorn again…maybe bringing it for a snack on our flight to Montreal to see my brother!  You can buy their popcorn in pretty much any grocery store, as well as Costco. Of course, you can buy it online from them, or on amazon, too. As an added bonus, each bag is pretty inexpensive, costing you less than $3.50!

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Angie’s was so generous that they offered to send one lucky reader a box of their assorted popcorn, too!

To enter the giveaway, please follow the steps below:

1. Leave a comment on this post stating why you would like to win some popcorn!

(Optional) Earn four additional entries by:

1. Like Fit ‘N’ Well Mommy’s Facebook page

2. Follow Fit ‘N’ Well Mommy on Twitter: @FitNWellMommy

3. Post on YOUR Facebook page or Tweet, “I want to win a box of popcorn from Angie’s Popcorn and Fit ‘N’ Well Mommy!”

4. Follow Fit ‘N’ Well Mommy by email

*Make sure to leave a second, third or fourth comment on this post with your Facebook post, Tweet, like or following, in order for your extra entries to be counted (a total of 5 chances to win!!).

The giveaway ends next Tuesday, December 11th at 8 p.m. PST!! Good luck!

 

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips + New Pumpkin Recipe! November 20, 2012

Wow, Thanksgiving is only two days away! I can’t wait! Tonight, I’m making Artichoke Torta (our family’s tradition) and getting everything packed to head to my parents’ house tomorrow. Keenan is so excited to go to my parents’ house that he keeps saying, “Go to Nonna and Avo’s house now!” I keep reminding him that we are going tomorrow and not today. He definitely has Thanksgiving down because when I ask him why we are going to Nonna and Avo’s house, he says “Thanksgiving and eat yummy food!” It is too cute!

Speaking of Thanksgiving and all of the delicious food that will be around, it is a great time to re-evaluate your eating habits during the holiday season, check-in on your goals, and have a plan in place to not get off-track. For myself, I look forward to eating all of the tasty goodies that I only get once a year. I allow myself to splurge, having a little bit of everything (though not going overboard). I always try to get some sort of exercise in on Thanksgiving or really push myself the day before, as well as working out the day after. I say “try” because it doesn’t always work out the way I plan, so I just aim to do my best. We usually do something fun as a family the day after Thanksgiving, so I might not have a chance to work out. Either way, I try not to be hard on myself and just plan to get back on track the following day (by then, my body is usually craving my normal routine!).

In preparation for the holiday season, here are a few healthy eating tips that I try to follow:

  • Don’t starve yourself: With a big meal ahead, you might be tempted to eat as little as possible (or nothing) during the day, to save your calories. By not eating, your metabolism actually slow down. In addition, you might feel cranky, irritable and even tired, if your body isn’t consuming its regular calories as it is used to. Instead, eat as you normally do during the day, but a little lighter, saving room for consuming extra calories at your holiday feast.
  • Portions: Since most of the foods at your holiday feast are probably ones you only get once a year, allow yourself a small handful size portion of everything and don’t go back for seconds. By having a taste of everything, you won’t feel guilty or too full! Even if you think you are still hungry, save yourself for a small slice of pie or other dessert. I’m sure that after having dessert your stomach will feel satisfied! We tend to eat with our eyes instead of our stomachs, so having a small portion of everything will be enough.
  • Leftovers: I love Thanksgiving leftovers because you can do so much with them! When you think you need a second helping of your grandma’s casserole or mashed potatoes, think about saving it for the next day. This way, you get to enjoy your “once a year goodies” again the next day (without stuffing yourself the day of your feast). Change up the form, like turning mashed potatoes into potato pancakes with some turkey and cranberries. Or, chop leftover turkey into small pieces and add to a salad for lunch the next day.
  • Exercise: Keep moving! Plan your exercise accordingly. If you don’t have time to fit in a workout on the holiday or the day after, do as much as you can on the days leading up to it. I try to workout extra hard on the few days leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as plan some time on the days after to workout (to make up for all of the calories I consumed!). If it means involving your family in your exercise, do it (what a great way to model healthy behavior!)! Go for a jog with your little one in the BOB stroller, a long family walk, ice skating, sledding or snow skiing! Most importantly, stay as active as you can during the holiday season, making sure to not miss a workout no matter how many things you have to do. The more you move, the more you will be able to stay fit throughout the holiday season and not gain those extra pounds!
  • Maintain: If you have been working on weight or body fat loss the past few months, change your focus to just maintaining during the holidays. With all of the tempting goodies, it is hard to eat healthy 100% of the time. Take off some of the pressure and allow yourself to taste everything (a small handful size portion), without depriving yourself. But, keep things in check so you don’t go overboard. Be mindful of how your clothes fit and how you feel to make sure you don’t get completely off-track.
  • Being Mindful: Take the time to truly savor each bite of the scrumptious food you will be eating. Listen to your body and know when you are full. Enjoy and cherish the time you are spending with your loved ones, appreciating each and every moment. Sometimes we get in “rush mode” (as I like to call it), due to the craziness of life and we forget to slow down during the holidays, taking the time to appreciate the important things in our life like family.
  • Don’t Beat Yourself Up: If all else fails and you indulge in a little too much pumpkin pie, egg nog, gingerbread or stuffing, don’t be too hard on yourself. Get back on track the next day with your healthy eating and exercising. One day isn’t going to destroy all that you have worked hard for!

Well, today was another “semi-lazy” day at home. We were going to meet some friends at the park, but Keenan woke up late (8:05 a.m.!) and after eating breakfast, preparing tonight’s dinner (another new recipe, coming soon!), cleaning out Keenan’s closet and battling an eye infection (…from trying a new eyeliner on Sunday. Ugh, my eyes are just too sensitive!), we both were not motivated to leave the house. Instead, we had some good play-time of making soup in his kitchen, racing his cars, dancing and riding his trike. By the time Keenan went down for his nap, he was pretty tired! It was a great morning!

Lining up his cars and trucks for a race!

After Keenan went down for his nap, I headed to the box to do some extra work of kettlebell swings, snatches, GHD (glute hamstring developer), double unders and bench presses. Once he wakes up from his nap, we’ll head to the box to do today’s WOD of burpee box jumps, deadlifts and double unders (which I’m not looking forward to!).

Before I forget, here is my new recipe for pumpkin muffins. After searching the internet for new pumpkin ideas, I came across a couple of recipes for pumpkin pie muffins, so I experimented and came up with my Paleo-friendly ones!

Healthy pumpkin goodness!

Paleo Pumpkin Pie Muffins (makes 8 muffins):

Ingredients:
Muffins:
– 2 cups almond flour
– 1 tbsp baking powder
–  1/2 cup xylitol
– 1 tsp raw honey
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– pinch of salt
1 cup pumpkin
2 tbsp applesauce
2 eggs
1/4 cup any milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
Filling:
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 tbsp xylitol
2 tbsp applesauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
– pinch of salt
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Meanwhile, mix all of the dry ingredients of the muffins together in a large bowl.
3. In a separate (small) bowl, mix the wet ingredients.
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until well combined. Set aside.
5. Prep a muffin tin by spraying it with cooking spray.
6. Mix all ingredients of the filling in a small bowl.
7. Add a scoop of the muffin batter into each muffin tin (leaving enough to cover the filling).
8. Next, add a scoop of the filling on top of the muffin batter, followed by another scoop of the batter (so the filling is in the middle).
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Enjoy!
*Notes: If you don’t have Xylitol (or don’t want to use it), you can sub it for more raw honey!
Questions: How do you stay on track with your healthy eating and exercise routine during the holidays? Do you have any tips that you follow?
 

What I Ate Wednesday and Two New Recipes! November 14, 2012

Since it is Wednesday, it is time for another What I Ate Wednesday, hosted by Jenn at Peas and Crayons!

Peas and Crayons

Instead of just focusing on today, I thought I’d highlight some of my eats from the past couple of days, including two new recipes!

Breakfasts:

  • We have enjoyed No Oat Oatmeal with spinach and strawberries the past couple of days.
  • This morning we had something special (thanks to my husband for preparing them), Paleo Pancakes with Almond Flour, a new creation! We topped them with a little pumpkin butter and maple syrup, SO good!

Lunches:

  • Egg whites in a mug on top of a bed of spinach with tomato and avocado. Since we had some leftover oven-baked sweet potatoes fries from Monday night, I added them to my salad yesterday (along with a little splash of my husband’s special ketchup). It was tasty!
  • Today, I made a nice hearty chicken salad with roasted pumpkin seeds and feta cheese on top!

Dinners:

  • Chicken burgers with oven-baked sweet potato fries and my husband’s special ketchup on Monday night. My husband mixes in balsamic vinegar, Tapatio hot sauce, cumin, pepper, garlic salt and garlic no-salt seasoning into regular ketchup. It is really good! It is hard to go back to regular ketchup after having his.
  • Tonight, we are trying a new creation: Mediterranean Chicken in the Crock Pot with sauteed kale. The chicken smells so good, I can’t wait to taste it!

Here are the recipes for Paleo Pancakes with Almond Flour and Mediterranean Chicken in the Crock Pot:

Paleo Pancakes with Almond Flour: (makes 6 pancakes)

Ingredients:

– 1 1/2 cups almond flour

– 1 banana (mashed)

– 2 tsp vanilla

– 1 tsp cinnamon

– 1 tbsp flaxseed

– 1 tbsp chia seeds

– 2 eggs

– 1/2 tsp baking powder

– tbsp olive oil

– 1-2 tbsp water *depending on the thickness you want

Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients together (except for water).

2.  Slowly add water until the batter is slightly thick, but not too thin (otherwise the pancakes won’t cook right).

3. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan to medium heat. Spread a little olive oil on the griddle or pan and cook pancakes (a couple of minutes per side).

4. Top with you favorite toppings and enjoy!

Keenan enjoying his pancakes this morning!

Mediterranean Chicken in the Crock Pot (serves 3):

Ingredients:

– 3 frozen chicken thighs or breasts

– 1 can chopped tomatoes

– 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts

– 1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives

– 1/4 cup pasta sauce

– 2 tsp Italian seasoning

– 1 tsp garlic no-salt seasoning

– 1/2 tsp oregano

– 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

1. Place frozen chicken at the bottom of your crock pot.

2. Top chicken with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, pasta sauce and spices. Mix and cover.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4. Divide chicken amongst 3 plates and place on top of a bed of sauteed or steamed spinach or kale topped with the tomato mixture. If desired, sprinkle with feta or Parmesan cheese!

*Notes: You can also serve the chicken over a bed of whole wheat pasta, quinoa or other grain, if you like.

Before I forget, I have received a couple of questions in regards to Keenan’s bib and I keep forgetting to talk about it. My husband and I call Keenan’s bib “the hazmat bib!” We were introduced to it by my sister-in-law, who used it for my niece. It is like an art smock; it has two sleeves and a shelf at the bottom to catch any food that drops. I have to say it is the best bib EVER! It keeps Keenan’s clothes clean while catching any loose food and it washes up nicely. We just toss it into the wash and let it hang dry. Sometimes I even hand wash it while I am doing the dishes, and it dries fine without leaving any smell. We have used a couple of different brands, but our favorite (due to quality and not smelling bad after a few wears) is the one at Ikea: KLADD PRICKAR. They are $4.99 for a two-pack, very reasonable! Also, the bib is a great art smock, so we use it when we are painting, too. It is a great buy!

Well, we are off to CrossFit, so have a great rest of your day!

Questions: What have you enjoyed eating the past couple of days? Have you tried any new recipes? If so, what were they?

 

Tuesday Shenanigans and Thoughts on Milk Alternatives November 7, 2012

I hope everyone voted and had a great Tuesday! We were complete procrastinators and finished up our voting last night (absentee) and dropped our ballots off at the nearest polling place today. Anyhow, this is the first time all day that I have had a chance to sit down and relax for a bit. It was a busy day, to say the least! Does anyone else have days like that?

Before I talk about today, I have to include a couple of pictures of Keenan taking his bath last night. Last week, Keenan found some calming comfort baby bath soap in his bathroom cupboard that I received as part of a baby shower gift before he was born. The day that he found the bottle of bath soap, he immediately wanted to use it for his bath that night. I added it to his bath, thus making a bubble bath and he was SO excited! Since then, he has had bubble baths pretty much every night (aside from being at my parents’ house). Last night, we were having particular fun with making “bubble hats and collars,” so I had to share a few pictures!

Fun in the tub with bubbles!

More bubble fun!

Since we attended our family friend’s funeral yesterday, I rescheduled Keenan’s music class to this morning. After class, we headed to the grocery store (in dire need of fresh produce) and then exchanged some jeans for Keenan at The Children’s Place. Since we use cloth g diapers, I always have to get one pant size bigger for Keenan, to accommodate the bulkiness of his diapers. Since the larger size is always way too long, it makes it difficult to find ones that fit right, but thankfully, there are quite a few with adjustable waists!  I tried the larger jeans on Keenan in the dressing room and after I put them on, he asked, “Where is the mirror Mommy?” We walked over to the mirror and he was having fun looking at himself and admiring his new jeans. It was too cute! We might have a little shopper on our hands!

After we got home, Keenan was exhausted and didn’t want to eat much of his lunch (even his favorite sandwich: PB, honey and banana). I think the weekend at my parents’ house finally caught up with him, because as soon as I put him down for his nap, he rolled over and went to sleep, sleeping for almost 3 hours! I think his tiredness also has to do with waking up so early at my parents’ house. He woke up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. every day this past weekend. My husband and I can’t quite figure out why he gets up so early at my parents’ house. I’m not sure if he is too excited, or if there are too many different sounds that he hears. I just wish we could figure something out to help him sleep in.

Once I put Keenan down for his nap, I quickly prepared dinner in our crock pot, Slow Cooker Chicken and Kale, except I used Swiss chard instead. I didn’t use any chicken broth or fresh tomatoes this time; I just added one can of chopped tomatoes mixed with 3/4 cup of pasta sauce.  It turned out SO good! The kale was nice and soft and the chicken stayed intact. The flavor was so yummy; it was a like an Italian stew! When serving it, I sprinkled a little bit of Parmesan cheese on top, and since it was so juicy, we each had a piece of toast for soaking up the juice (I know, sandwich bread…not the classiest!).

A perfect one-pot meal for Fall!

This afternoon, I met with Tiana, an Independent Consultant from Arbonne, about their nutrition line, and to learn more about their company. It was very interesting and I look forward to trying out their products! Look for a review and more info coming soon!

After Tiana left, I finished folding and putting away our “mound” of laundry and went to CrossFit. I was stoked, because I PR’d on front squats today, increasing my previous 1 RM by 10 pounds! I was able to front squat 145 lbs!

Before I forget, I want to address a couple of questions that I have received in regards to milk alternatives.

What are some good non-dairy alternatives to milk?

There are a few alternatives to choose from: soy, almond, rice and coconut milk.

Soy milk, probably one of the most popular milk alternatives out there, is low in calories and contains a good amount of fiber,  healthy unsaturated fats and protein. Soy’s phytoestrogen can be helpful for women with alleviating post-menopausal symptoms. On the other hand, a high soy consumption has been found to increase a women’s risk of developing breast cancer. Also, many soy products contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms) which haven’t been properly studied, yet. Read the labels to see if GMOs are included.

Almond milk, another popular alternative, is very low in calories, high in healthy unsaturated fats (heart healthy omega 3’s) and protein, as well as providing 30% of your daily recommended calcium intake. Recently, a new report has come out stating that several brands of almond milk contain a carcinogen called, carrageenan. Carrageenan is stabilizer/emulsifier, used in several milk alternatives, including baby formula. There are two types of carrageenan, food safe and non-food safe. Both types have been linked to cause inflammation in the colon, colon cancer and irritable bowel syndrome. Supposedly, non-food safe carrageenan is not supposed to be in food products, but according to a few studies that tested milk alternatives, they contained 25% of the non-food safe type! Yikes! Again, read the labels and check for carrageenan. Look for raw almond milk, or you could even try to make it yourself!

Rice milk, a good option, but not the greatest. It doesn’t contain many vitamins and minerals ,though the majority of brands fortify the milk with plenty. It is low in calories and sugar, and doesn’t contain any cholesterol. Check your labels again, as it can also contain carrageenan!

Coconut milk is becoming more and more popular these days. I want to try it, especially adding it to my coffee for a coconut latte one of these days. For Thai inspired recipes, we always keep a couple of cans of light coconut milk in our cupboard, but I keep forgetting to get one out and open it in the morning. Coconut milk provides a lot of nutritional benefits, such as high in healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, full of vitamins and minerals (including potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and iron), as well as some immune boosting properties. You can find it in cartons or cans, or if you are feeling adventurous, you could even make it yourself! Again, check the labels for carrageenan. Don’t confuse it with coconut water.

With soy and almond milk being not as “healthy” as I thought, what do you suggest for an alternative, being that I am lactose intolerant?

With soy being more and more tied to an increased risk of breast cancer in women, try raw almond or coconut milk (making sure they don’t contain carrageenan). Read the labels, as some brands of non-raw almond milk might not contain carrageenan. In the end, think about how much milk you are consuming each day. Is it just for adding a couple of tablespoons to your coffee each morning? Do you add it into other items? If you aren’t consuming large amounts of soy or almond milk on a regular basis, you are probably okay.

Well, it is past my bed time, and I feel like Keenan did before his nap: Exhausted! Have a good night!

Questions: Do you drink cow’s milk? If so, what percent and how much per day? If not, what milk alternative do your enjoy?

 

Healthy Halloween Tips October 31, 2012

I can’t believe tomorrow is Halloween and then we are into November! The holidays are going to be here before we know it…crazy! I love the holidays and I can’t wait to see everything through Keenan’s eyes this year, but I’m just not quite there, yet. There are so many things going on between now and the holidays, it is hard to think that far ahead! Does anyone else feel that way?

Anyhow, onto today, “Halloween Eve:” We started our day off with toasted leftover paleo pancakes! I think they are actually better toasted! Keenan topped his with pumpkin butter and a little maple syrup. I topped mine with yogurt and strawberries. In the spirit of Fall, I made myself a pumpkin pie latte…so good!

Yum!

We also started our day with a new spin on potty training: an “Elmo” potty chart! Every time Keenan goes number one on the potty, he gets a stamp, and when he goes number two, he gets a sticker to place on his chart. My mom gave Keenan an Elmo Potty Time” coloring book a while back. The book came with a potty chart and stickers, but Keenan wasn’t ready to use it at the time . Yesterday (out of the blue), Keenan mentioned the potty chart, along with the stickers, so I thought it was time to give it a try. Today, he got four stamps! He was pretty excited to get his stamps, so I am hoping the chart with help (fingers crossed!). I’m going to give this a couple of weeks and if it doesn’t work, I think we will try the “pant-less” method. I’ll keep you posted…

Hopefully “Elmo” and his potty chart will work its’ magic!

Since we so busy yesterday (and Keenan has been so tired lately, getting up between 8 and 8:30 a.m!), we stayed home this morning and played. I had some watercolor paints, so I thought it would be fun to show Keenan how to use them and paint some pictures. He didn’t quite grasp the whole concept of dipping your brush into the water first, then the paint and, finally, painting on the paper. He kept wanting to take the paints out of the package and use them as finger paints! Needless to say, we didn’t do any painting. Instead, we played in his sandbox and cuddled with Slinky!

Putting toys on Slinky!

Cuddling!

To get Keenan ready for Halloween and trick-or-treating, I have been talking to him about what to say, but for some reason, it hasn’t sunk in. He knows that carrying his pumpkin bucket equals candy, but saying “trick-or-treat” is another story! He keeps getting “knock knock” jokes confused with saying “trick-or-treat,” because when I asked him earlier today about what to say when he rings the door bell when trick-or-treating, tomorrow, night, he said, “knock knock!” I laughed so hard; it was too funny!

Speaking of Halloween, Keenan seems to be fixated on having candy! After our MOMs Club Halloween party on Friday, he kept asking to have candy. So, tomorrow shall be interesting. I am going to have to cave and let him enjoy at least one piece of candy! This is why I tend to buy healthier things to pass out, such as fruit snacks and rice krispies (though, not the healthiest, but better than candy!).

If you are taking your children trick-or-treating tomorrow, and/or passing out candy at home, and you’re trying to stay good and not over-indulge in too much candy, here are a few healthy Halloween tips:

  • Instead of buying a huge bag of candy, buy one small bag and a couple of bags of healthier treats, such as rice krispies, fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks or raisins. Mix everything together in a big bowl, so the candy is mixed in with the healthier things. (My husband says to be careful, though, as you’ll be known as “that house” if you don’t have a good ratio of candy to “clean” treats. I think he’s crazy.)
  • After the last trick-or-treater has gone and you still have a bunch of candy left, don’t save it, as you will be tempted to eat it! Donate it to an office (or bring it to your office, though you will probably still be tempted to eat it!), or throw it away.
  • If you must have a piece of candy, choose your two favorites. Eat one of your favorites on Halloween and save the other one  for the next day, as a treat to look forward to. If you save a handful, you might be more inclined to eat all of it in one sitting. (My husband also told me that he would “stretch out” his candy stash until Christmas. Talk about self-control!)
  • While you are passing out candy, have some healthy treats to munch on, such as popcorn, homemade kettle corn, nuts, trail mix, no-bake peanut butter chocolate snack balls and fruit. If you have some healthy snacks out, you might be less tempted to indulge in candy.
  • Last–but not least–if you do slip-up and indulge in one too many pieces of candy tomorrow, don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track the next day!

Speaking of getting back on track, yesterday and today’s WODs were hard, to say the least! Yesterday, we did 100 double unders followed by 3 rounds pf 20 ring dips, 20 kettle bell snatches (35 lbs) and 20 box jumps. The time cap was 15 minutes and I finished 2 rounds and 45 reps (just shy of 10 box jumps to finish). The ring dips were the worst (something I have to work on!). I used the lightest band, red, but they are still difficult!

Today’s WOD was 5 rounds of thrusters (95 lbs) and over-the-bar burpees with a 20 minute time cap. I finished in 16 minutes and 49 seconds, using the prescribed weight. It wasn’t too bad, but we did max deadlifts for the skill beforehand, so my lower back is pretty sore! So, we’ll see how tomorrow goes…

I had to include this! Keenan was wearing a wrap that you put ice or hot packs in for your back. My husband was wearing it on Sunday, so Keenan wanted to give it a try!

Before I wrap-up this post, I have to share this picture of Keenan playing the guitar with my husband on Sunday. Since he was over at his friend’s house while I attend last week’s The Fresh Market Roseville Sneak Peek, Keenan has been fascinated with guitars! My friend’s son had a mini-guitar that Keenan played with most of the evening. Once he got home, he wanted to play with my husband’s guitar. So, on Sunday, my husband and Keenan re-strung and tuned the guitar together, and spent some time playing it. Keen was SO excited! It was too cute!

Making music!

Questions: Are you passing out candy tomorrow night? If so, what do you usually give out? What do you do with the leftover candy?

REMINDER: There is still time to enter the Artisana giveaway!! Contest ends tomorrow, October 31st at 8 p.m. PST! To enter, click here.

 

Health Lessons Learned Lately: “We eat our way, the way that works for us” September 14, 2012

Loving his sweet potatoes!

Today, I am linking up with Healthy Living Blogs, as the theme for the month of September is “Health Lessons Learned Lately.”

Fact: With the food we eat serving as fuel for our bodies, it’s important that we properly fuel ourselves for our daily activities. Fact: Everyone is different.

I’ve noticed that some people feel the need to drastically change their diets and dive into a whole new way of eating, when they want to make positive changes in their overall health. Yes, if you’re only eating fried chicken wings and drinking milkshakes during every meal of every day, not too many people will deny that drastic changes in your diet will benefit you mentally and physically. A balanced diet comprised of fresh, whole foods doesn’t seem like it should really be altered, though. Most Americans simply eat too much, so changing how much you eat might make more of a difference than what you eat, if you’re already trying to eat a healthy diet.

Some ways of eating advocate very drastic changes, and others dictate specific food groups to be avoided. It seems that the Paleo way of eating (or diet) is a hot topic these days, or has been for a while, now. In the CrossFit box that I work out in, there are a lot of people eating Paleo. Many people have experienced significant changes, such as losing weight, gaining more lean muscle and improving their performance. But the question that I ask is: Could someone experience the same results by just eating “clean,” i.e. by eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole foods (little to no processed food), lean meats, nuts, whole grains, dairy, healthy fats and practicing mindful eating? Though I am not a medical professional or Registered Dietician, my knee-jerk answer is, “Yes!”

By cutting out whole food groups, of course it will be easier for someone to lose weight, but is it necessarily healthy or sustainable for a lifetime? How do you make sure your body is getting all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that it needs if you are cutting out food groups? In addition, once your body consumes the foods that it hasn’t had in a long time, what happens? You might find your weight slowly creeping up or your body can no longer handle/digest the food as it did before.

I am a firm believer and advocate of adopting healthy eating habits that will last lifetime. When I was working as a Health Educator in physician’s offices, many patients would ask me to provide them with a list of foods that they could no longer eat and/or a specific meal plan. In addition to it being out of my scope of practice–since I am not a Registered Dietician–I would never provide anyone with a list of what they can’t eat or a set meal plan, because it is not practical in real life. In life, we are faced with eating out, dinner parties, holidays, meetings with catered food, cooking for a family, etc, so how can you eat Paleo or any other diet 100% of the time?

As I have met more and more people following “set diets,” and achieving results, I have learned that I need to do what is best for me, my body and my family. I have achieved my own results with practicing mindful eating and listening to the needs of my body (eating when I am hungry and stopping when I am full) and witnessed even greater results in my husband: My husband lost 23 pounds since he started CrossFit in January of this year, while he also ate healthier, practiced mindful eating and cut back on his portions (he used to go for “fourths”… no joke). For myself, I have put on more lean muscle and have more muscle definition, while maintaining my weight pretty consistently over the past two years. We eat “clean” by rarely eating any processed foods, except for Kashi cereal and a few pita or tortilla chips every once in a while (like special occasions when we have company over, or are on vacation). We still indulge in dessert every now and then (usually allowing ourselves one splurge a week) and drink alcohol (wine and beer). It is something that works for us, makes our bodies feel good and–most importantly–we are able to sustain it. When we travel and splurge WAY too much, such as the cupcakes last weekend, we cut back as soon as we get home by eating salads or lean protein, veggies and fruit for the first few days (until our bodies get back on track). It is a give-and-take and I like to say we eat healthy 90% of the time and allow ourselves to eat “not so healthy,” i.e. ice cream, cupcakes, gelato, french fries, milkshakes 10% of the time.

In the end, my most important lesson learned is listening to the needs of my body, not someone else, as they don’t lead my life. I eat to maintain my health, while still fueling my body for intense workouts. If someone is mainly sedentary, their daily nutritional needs are much different than someone who is working out every day–let alone an athlete! Find what works for you and your family. If you can sustain a “set diet,” then more power to you! Maybe your entire family is eating Paleo, so at family functions, you don’t have to worry about what you can and cannot make or eat. For me, it just doesn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake with almond flour these days (more often than whole wheat flour), because of the nutrition that it packs, or even sweet potatoes. At times, we do eat meals that consist of just lean protein and veggies, but we don’t limit ourselves to only eating a certain way. We eat our way, the way that works for us.

Speaking of eating, here is the recipe for the spaghetti squash tomato bake with added turkey, that I promised:

Spaghetti Squash Tomato Bake with Ground Turkey: (Adapted from Roni at Green Lite Bites)

Ingredients:

– 1 medium spaghetti squash (cooked) *I cut mine in half, scoop out the seeds, fill the inside with a 1/2 cup water and put the top half back on and microwave (covered) for 10 minutes.

– 2 large tomatoes sliced

– 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)

– 2 lbs. ground turkey

– 1 onion (diced)

– 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

– 1 clove garlic (minced)

– 2 Tbs olive oil

– Italian seasoning

-garlic (no-salt) seasoning *I use one from Costco

– salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 11 x 9 casserole dish with non-stick spray.

2. Caramelize onion and garlic in large pan and add turkey. Cook until turkey is browned.

3. Spread about one cup of spaghetti squash in the bottom of the casserole dish (using a fork to scoop out the flesh).

4. Add a layer of turkey on top of the squash (enough to cover it, but not too much, saving enough for a second layer).

5. Add six tomato slices over the turkey. Sprinkle with basil and spices.

6. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the tomato slices.

7. Repeat the layers: squash, turkey, tomato slices, basil, spices and cheese.

8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes (until the cheese is browned and bubbly on top).

Sorry, I forgot to take a picture before we cut into it!

*Notes: You might need to add one more layer, if you have a large spaghetti squash, thus increasing the amount of the other ingredients. The turkey makes this casserole pretty thick, which was good! I love the added turkey this time, because it added a ton more flavor and protein, making this a one-pot meal!

Enjoying his pancake with pumpkin butter!

Well, today was “cleaning day” at our household, so after eating breakfast (something different this time…toasted pancakes with a spoonful of Fage 0% Greek yogurt for me and pumpkin butter for Keenan, in addition to slices of strawberries and a banana with a latte!) and prepping tonight’s dinner: turkey meatloaf in a crock pot with roasted sweet potatoes (I set my oven for a delay start) and sauteed kale with a red bell pepper (I washed and chopped everything, so it was ready to cook when we got home from the gym), Keenan and I cleaned house. Today, he wasn’t into helping me as he usually is, but he definitely wanted to vacuum and mop! We finished everything in time for CrossFit!

My breakfast…it is becoming one of my new favorites!

“Helping” me prep dinner!

Well, it’s late and I’m exhausted after a busy day and a hard workout tonight: 5 rounds of 15 hanging power snatches (women weight: 75 lbs), 30 air squats and an alley carry of 35 pounds (weight for the women) with a 30 minute time cap. I tore my hand while doing chest-to-bar pullups on Tuesday, so I had some issues with my grip today, thus slowing me down. I was halfway done on the last alley carry (my 5th round) when the timer hit 30 minutes, ugh! Have a good night!

Oh, don’t forget to leave a comment on yesterday’s post , if you would like to be entered in the Sweaty Bands Giveway! The contest ends at noon PST tomorrow!

 

Our bodies are like cars… August 17, 2012

Before I forget, here is a picture our dinner last night, Sauteed Kale with mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, a red onion and feta cheese. It was delicious!

We had a busy morning today. After a quick “usual” breakfast, I took my latte to go and dropped off my car for its 40,000-mile service and then headed to my MOMs Club board meeting. After the meeting, Keenan got his second haircut! The guy who cut his hair the first time (my husband’s previous hair stylist) moved, so I found a new person that did a fabulous job! In addition, it only cost $7.0o! Keenan’s first haircut was $15.00, so today’s cut was a steal! If you live in the Natomas area and are looking for a great place to get your child’s hair cut, I highly recommend A-Z Cuts!

Showing off his new haircut!

After being in Alaska for two weeks and prior to that, San Diego, it is time for me to re-evaluate my eating habits and get back on track. I ate WAY too many sweets and bread (thanks to my Mother-in-Law for her wonderful baking!), so this week was all about “detoxing,” or rather eating proper portions again and lots of veggies and fruit! Since there are no grocery stores where my in-law’s have a lodge, everything has to be flown in, so you can’t go to the store every other day or every few days to get fresh produce. You either have to grow it or have it shipped and ration out the amount you eat. Needless to say, I missed having a lot of fruits and veggies on hand! Since we ate SO MANY carbs the past two weeks, our dinners this week consisted of protein and veggies. For breakfast and lunch, we have included carbs, i.e. Kashi Cereal and sandwich thins, but other than that, we haven’t eaten many of them. I stepped on the scale today and I put on a couple of pounds, so I definitely need to get back on track. My husband also put on a few pounds, so we are both watching our food consumption. Since we didn’t really workout while we were in Alaska, I think the lack of activity coupled with the additional sweets/carbs did us in. Oh, well, we were on vacation, so it was a good excuse to splurge, right??! Do you allow yourself to splurge when on vacation? What foods do you like to splurge on?

When talking to clients about their eating habits, I love to give them the analogy of a car. In order for our bodies to run properly and efficiently, they need the right fuel, as well as regular maintenance to withstand daily exercise (whether light, moderate or vigorous) on a daily basis and/or what life throws our way. If you have a sports car and it takes premium gasoline, you can’t put regular unleaded and expect it to run as well as it does with premium. Our bodies are the same way. If you are working out 7 days a week and doing very intense exercise, you need to eat enough protein to repair and build muscle, good carbs for re-filling your glycogen stores and staying hydrated to replace the amount of water you lose during your workouts. In addition, without proper maintenance, i.e. recovery, your body will run itself into the ground, being prone to injury and fatigue, thus decreasing performance (just as a car does when it doesn’t receive regular oil changes and maintenance checks). Some people think that we “live to eat,” but really, we “eat to live.” We need to take proper care of our bodies, whether for light to moderate exercise, vigorous workouts or playing with your kids.

Proper fuel requirements made me question if I am eating the right amounts (just right, too little or too much) of protein, carbs, veggies and fruit for the workouts that I am doing. I eat a good amount of protein with every meal and a little bit combined with a few carbs for my pre-workout snacks (which I need to start posting about and taking pictures), but is it enough? I do CrossFit 5 days a week, doing pretty vigorous activity, so I think I need to increase my protein intake. Prior to going to Alaska, I felt tired during my workouts (even though I was well hydrated, sleeping well and felt like I was eating enough), which could have been due to not eating enough protein. The American Dietetic Association recommends an endurance athlete consume between 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. If you are doing heavy strength training, your protein needs are definitely in the high range and can go up to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. With that said, I calculated the amount of protein I consume on a regular basis and I am short a few grams. So, my first focus is increasing my lean protein intake for all of my meals, without increasing my overall calorie intake. By doing so, I am going to decrease the amount of carbs I eat (still consuming them, though!) to make-up for the additional calories of protein. I know, it seems a little confusing, but it shouldn’t be too hard to do!

The main thing that I try to practice on a daily basis is being mindful, listening to my body. I eat when I’m hungry and hydrate when I am thirsty (though in Alaska, I definitely ate when I wasn’t hungry with all of the sweets laying around!). I listen to my body after a workout. If I’m feeling really fatigued, I think back to what I consumed during the day to see if I ate enough. The next day, I make sure to eat enough, especially protein and see if that makes a difference in how I feel after I work out. I find that if you listen to your body, you will learn a lot! Practicing mindful eating can help you reach your goals, whether they are losing weight, maintaining your weight or increasing your performance. How do you practice mindfulness?

Ok, enough of the boring nutrition stuff. Tonight is our “at home date night” after Keenan goes to bed, so I can’t wait! My husband is cooking an Asian dish with grilled chicken, zuchinni, carrots, onion over brown rice noodles served with a nice white wine; it should be good! We are planning to watch something on Netflix, but we’ll see if we can agree on something!

Well, it’s time to get ready for CrossFit. Have a great evening!

 

 
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