Thursday, February 27, 2014


2 avocados
1/2 onion
2 Roma tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/2 lime, juiced

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Workout music

I get lots of comments about my choice of music for working out.  I listen to mostly Christian music, some country and a few pop songs.  I love a good beat but also throw in a few slower songs to mix it up.

Here's my collection of songs:

Shake:  MercyMe 
Do Everything:  Steven Curtis Chapman 
Eye On It:  tobyMac   
Good Morning:  Mandisa & tobyMac   
Love Take Me Over:  Steven Curtis Chapman  
Unashamed of You:    Chris August   
Shake:   MercyMe         
Hold Us Together:   Matt Maher  
Overcomer:   Mandisa  
Beautiful Day:    Jamie Grace   
Me Without You:   tobyMac 
NY2LA:  Press Play   
Every Good Thing:  The Afters   
Footloose :   Glee Cast   
Brokenhearted:    Karmin  
Cowboy Casanova:   Carrie Underwood 
Little White Church:   Little Big Town 
I Want Crazy:   Hunter Hayes 
Tornado :    Little Big Town   
Hold Me (feat. tobyMac):     Jamie Grace  
Well Done:    Moriah Peters   
Gold:       Britt Nicole  
This Is the Stuff:   Francesca Battistelli 
Lord, I Need You:     Matt Maher   
Rise:     Shawn McDonald   
What Makes You Beautiful:   One Direction   
We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris):     Rihanna   
All I Want to Do:     Sugarland   

Get Back Up:    tobyMac   
Stuck Like Glue:      Sugarland  
Take It All (Live):  Hillsong Live  
#thatPOWER (feat. Justin Bieber):  
Glad You Came:      The Wanted  
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You):    Kelly Clarkson 
All I Need:    Bethany Dillon 
Sexy And I Know It (I'm sexy and I know it):  The Kingston   
Live While We're Young:     One Direction  
Our Song :     Taylor Swift   
Telephone:    Lady GaGa   
TiK ToK:    Ke$ha   
One More Night:   Maroon 5  
Pump Up the Jam:   Workout Music Team    #1 90's Hits Workout Remixed         
Don't Stop Believin' :  Glee Cast  
Last Night Again:     Steel Magnolia   
Right Round :   Flo Rida 
Party Rock Anthem (feat. Lauren Bennett & GoonRock):    LMFAO   
Life Is a Highway:   Rascal Flatts   
Somebody Like You:   Keith Urban   

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The end of a season

I found out several months ago that my group exercise certification was expiring soon and I needed to take continuing education classes to renew my certificate.  Hubs and I talked and talked and talked about what I should do.  I felt at a crossroads and making a decision seemed harder than it should.  The classes offered to me would only help me keep my current job, but didn't offer anything past that.  I looked countless times at getting AFAA certified and contemplated for months becoming a personal trainer.  I totally get keeping current on what you are teaching, but in reality, I should have taken these classes years ago.

So this is my beef with the fitness world.  Certifications are expensive and they don't guarantee you success.  Then, to keep your certification, you have to pay an annual fee and pay for classes...all for a job that pays hardly anything.  For example, I could pay $600 for a personal trainer certification, maybe get a few clients but would have to pay at least $300 a year to keep that certification. 

Second beef.  The fitness world is all about building your own kingdom.  Someone can make you believe they are a fitness guru by looking pretty in fitness clothes.  But really, someone else is doing all their work and they're getting the credit.  Not to mention any names, but think of the most famous female personal trainer there is...have you ever seen her sweat?  have you ever seen her actually do a work out?  Nope, but everyone swears she knows what she's doing.

After meeting with my supervisor one day, I was still feeling uneasy about my fitness future.  Hubs and I spent a lot of time talking about it that day and at the end of our conversation he told me that he would support me in whatever I wanted to do and prayed for me.  He prayed for peace and that moment was changing for me.  I immediately felt the peace that surpasses all understanding and I could finally see a little more clearly.

In that moment I let it go.  I let go of what I thought "should be" and let myself just "be".

If I really wanted to keep teaching and if I really wanted to be a personal trainer, than I would be really excited about pursuing the certifications and I would be excited about Hubs support. 
But I wasn't.

As soon as I let go, I realized that I too was trying to build my kingdom.  I wanted to be great and I wanted fitness define me.  I soon saw all the sacrifices I've made over the years in efforts to build this image, and they were all for nothing.  I've taught through morning sickness and newborn babies.  I've drug my sniffly little one's out in the cold to get to a class.  Just yesterday, I had to scoop Charlie out of bed in the morning and dropped him off in a hurry, still in his pj's, wet diaper and no breakfast.  He was a trooper, but that's not the way a morning should begin.

I've given my notice and will be done teaching at the end of March.  I deleted all my saved info about personal trainer certifications.  I decided to let it go and have never felt more at peace.  A few days ago, there was a class open to teach, but I decided to go running with Hubs instead.  It was a last minute decision and I wasn't dressed for the cold weather, but I made the choice to sacrifice for my family instead of my job.  I froze my tushy off, but it was the best decision I ever made.  Running together is a huge blessing to our marriage and I saw the beauty in being able to workout more with my Hubs.

The past couple of months I've been feeling like God is teaching me a big lesson in planning.  You all, I. am. a. planner.  I plan everything.  I plan laundry and cleaning and meals and kids' baths and workouts...everything.  Lately, it doesn't matter what I plan, it's not going to happen.  At first it was just depressing.  One day the only thing I had planned was 'deposit money'.  I pulled up to the ATM and it was out of order.  I sat there in the drive thru and said, "Okay God.  I got it." 

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
I'm trying hard not to plan anything and let God order my steps.  It's not easy.  I always have a list running through my head and back up plans if my schedule gets thrown off.  God is clearing my plate and I confess I'm a little scared.  Is it simply to help me see the beauty in my family sitting right in front of me or is to prepare for an upcoming trial?
His strength is sufficient for me and I'm excited to see what a new season of life brings.
All of this to say, that I can no longer attest to being a fitness instructor, but will probably still put some fitness things on the blog.  I don't want you to be deceived.  I'm not claiming to be the answer to all your workout dreams, but I do workout and I do actually sweat!  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Successful meals!

I finally had a successful week of cooking.  Praise the Lord!

To celebrate, I thought I better document.

I used the leftover chickpeas from hummus to make this:
Chickpeas in coconut milk, topped with basil and served over brown rice.

Braised white beans with pork loin.

Pork Loin: 
Cut slits in tenderloin, put apple slices into slits, drizzle with honey and apple juice and top with cinnamon and onion slices. 3-4 hours on low setting in the crockpot.

We also had:
Spaghetti (homemade sauce) with no knead bread
Pepperoni and feta pizza

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Basic Chicken

Several years ago I hit a wall with our eating and food budget.  I blogged about my frustrations with never staying in our food budget and feeling helpless in the department of feeding my family healthy food at a low cost.

That cry for help was the best thing I ever did.  I got the best advice and encouragement and it forever changed the way we eat, cook and shop.

I began looking at everything I was buying and really thought about how I could simply that food and make it myself.  For example, I used to buy canned refried black beans, but now I buy a bag of dry black beans for half the cost and make them myself...healthier and cheaper.  I'll share that recipe soon because it's SO yummy.

We don't eat very much red meat, but primarily eat chicken as our source of protein.  A good friend shared this tip and it's saved us tons over the years.  
It's as simple as this:  buy a whole chicken!
Even an organic whole chicken is going to be cheaper than buying prepackaged chicken breasts...which I used to do.

Once a week, I put a whole chicken in a crockpot and turn in on low.  You can sprinkle it with salt and pepper if you want, but it's not a must. 

 It should be done in about 6 hours.
I usually just jab a fork in it to see if it easily shreds.

Once it's cooled, take the meat off the bones (it should just fall off) and put the bones back in the crock pot.  Fill it with water and sprinkle a little more salt in it.  Put it back on low over night and in the morning you have home made chicken broth for free!

So for our family of 5, for about $5.00, a whole chicken can last us a week, usually providing 3 meals.
Some weeks I'll cut of the breasts for one meal and cook the rest for 2 other meals.  Other weeks, I'll throw in some veggies and sweet potatoes and season the chicken different for a main meal and use the leftovers for remaining meals.

This method also saves time because I don't have to worry about forgetting to thaw chicken in the afternoon.  It's cooked and ready to go for whatever meal I want to create.

Just a warning: if you are pregnant, the smell of chicken all day is not fun.  Hubs had to cook it in the garage when I was pregnant with #3.  Our neighbors thought we were nuts, but it worked.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

"Clean" snacks

My food clean up consisted of stocking up on healthy snacks.

Protein bars
Dark chocolate chip granola bars

*Hummus: use dry beans and soak over night.  Throw them in a crock pot the next morning with fresh water.   Blend that evening.  Eat with carrot and green pepper sticks.
*Granola: sprinkle on top of Greek yogurt and blueberries. 
*Dollar store snack bags are great for making home made snacks convenient.  

I only have a few food rules.  I don't tend to jump on the what should be organic and what should be gluten free bandwagon, but there are a few things that just make sense.
1.  peanut butter should be made with just doesn't need sugar or oil added.
2.  cheddar cheese shouldn't be yellow.  It just makes me mad that they add color because we think it should look yellow.
3.  baby carrots freak me out.  I save the $1 and skin/cut regular carrots to make my own baby size.

I was feeling so encouraged this week with my kids' eating.  Princess P asked for strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes and smoked salmon dip for lunch one day.  The next day Bubby asked for a peanut butter and cheese sandwich, carrots dipped in ketchup and cheese puffs.  Healthy? Yes.  Super gross? Yes.  But he ate the whole thing.  They are proving my theory that kids will eat what we provide them.  They may be picky and not care for everything, but they will choose healthy food if that is what is available.  I should note that the cheese puffs are "natural" but they are my boys' kryptonite...they are a sure fire way to get them to eat a meal.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


It's been about a month since both of my boys were diagnosed as "underweight" and we were told that the next few months were critical in weight gain.  The day after their diagnosis, I stood in the grocery store frozen, not sure what to buy.  Is it possible that we eat too healthy? I decided right there that no child would starve on my watch and I proceeded to buy anything and everything that had lots of calories that I thought they would eat.  Our pantry was soon full of donuts, cheetos, poptarts and cookies.  It was a picture of a mother's heart...willing to do anything and sacrifice everything for her child.  Healthy food was pushed aside as we cheered for the 200 calorie peanut butter bar the boys consumed.

But here's the thing, it wasn't working.  They would only eat half of a donut and smash the other half in the carpet.  We were spending so much money and wasting so much food.  After a few weeks, Hubs and I were starting to feel like the food we were consuming; junk.  It was time to refocus.

I started cleaning back up our food and started with our bread.  We usually make this bread recipe, but I found a simpler recipe that only uses whole wheat.  It turned out great!

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted 
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water
  • 7 cups whole wheat flour, divided

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active-dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt

 In a large bowl stir melted butter, warm water, 3 cups flour, honey and yeast. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set in a warm, draft-free area for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and adjust rack to middle position. Uncover the bowl with the flour mixture in it and add remaining 4 cups flour and sea salt. Stir until just combined and then pour mixture on to a floured flat surface. Knead the dough for one minute (if the dough is a bit sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour). Cut the dough in half. Roll first half to a 12x9-inch (approximate) rectangle and then roll it up to form a loaf. Place the loaf seam side down on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with second half of dough. After both pieces of loaves are formed, place a clean dish towel over the loaves and let them rise again in a warm, draft-free area for about 30 minutes or until they double in size. After dough has risen, remove towel, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

The day after I made this bread someone shared with me how terrible wheat is for you.  Did you know that it has a high glycemic index?  I didn't.  I thought I was doing the right thing by making whole wheat bread.

Then Hubs and I read an article about how skim milk is even more terrible.  We are the people the article made fun of, the people who thought skim milk was the healthy choice.  But really, it's the most processed milk full of icky stuff.

Everywhere I turned someone was talking about a cleanse or going vegan.  It seems like everything is going to kill us and every food has an argument against it.  It's overwhelming and it makes feeding our families completely stressful!

So here's what it boils down have to decide what food theory you are convicted of and what works for your entire family.  I personally do not agree with the "fork over knife" fad diet or with cleanses.  For our family, we want to eat good, real food, in it's most natural state.  However, we are not legalistic about our diet and strive to enjoy our meals...and sometimes that means breaking the rules a little :)

If there was one thing I could shout to the world right now, it would be:

Don't let food consume you and don't let it define you.

P.S.  Carnation Instant Breakfast and Larabars have been HUGE helps in calorie consumption.