Healthy Hostess Night!

I have made some two wonderful friends from my job I started just six short months ago. I honestly feel like I have been friends with these two girls for a lifetime! We just seem to "get" each other, not only when it comes to work but when it comes to everyday life. We have been alternating hanging out at each other's homes the past few weeks, and finally it was my turn to hostess last week! I love hostessing and would much rather cook a meal for my friends than go out and spend tons of money. Going out can be fun, but there is just something about sharing a meal at home that makes time with loved ones even better. I decided to make a healthy and delicious meal, and it was definitely a hit!! I thought I would share a few of my tips for healthy hostessing to hopefully inspire some of you to have a nice dinner party with your friends in a healthy and fun way. 1. Appetizers!

First things first, I knew that I wouldn't get home from work in time to cook everything before my friends came over. Appetizers are key in this situation! However I also didn't want the appetizers to be too heavy and filling. We all know how that is, right? We stuff ourselves with bread or chips and then don't even want to look at the food when it comes time to eat. My friends and I are obsessed with hummus, so I decided to go with some hummus, carrots, gluten free crackers, and salsa!


This provided the perfect light snack for us to munch on while I cooked the rest of the food.

2. Make something fun!

I knew what I had planned on the menu: chicken kebab, salad, and sweet potatoes. But I also wanted to make something fun. I decided to spiral the sweet potatoes with the spiralizer my fiancé bought me. This little gadget is SO much fun!! You can spiralize basically anything. It can make any dish stand out and be different!


What's also great about spiralizing is that it doubles the portion of what you make! So basically you feel like you are eating a ton of sweet potatoes when really, you aren't! Portion control without even feeling deprived!

3. Be realistic with what you can do.

So in all honesty, I used store bought, premarinated chicken kebab. I love marinating my own meats, but I also had to be realistic and accept the fact that I would have NO time to make the kebab from scratch. I got the meat from an Armenian market that makes their meat taste homemade and delicious. I trust them and their ingredients, so I went with their marinated chicken kebab! It was so flavorful...we couldn't get enough!

4. Always have a salad! I have been to so many dinner parties just waiting for some kind of salad or vegetable dish to be served. I always get so disappointed when I don't see anything colorful on the table. I've started to bring my own salads to parties, but also make sure to have some kind of salad whenever I am hostessing! I made a spinach salad with cucumbers, tomato, and with lite Italian dressing.


Salad is a great way to add color and beauty to your party, while also ensuring a nutritious option that people can load their plates with!

Here is the finished product!


This plate was very "My Plate" approved if I do say so myself! Half of the plate was veggies, a quarter protein with the chicken, and a quarter starch with the sweet potatoes (yes, they are a starch! But a nutrient-dense one with all that Vitamin A!)

I hope these tips provide some usefulness to anyone who is hoping to have a fun and healthy hostessing night soon! Now I am off to attack this Wednesday...I am working 10.5 hours and am going to need all the motivation I can get! Have a great day everyone and happy hostessing!

Healthy Priorities

I am currently writing this with no voice. I mean that...NO VOICE. Nada...I can barely whisper. It's been an interesting past few days to say the least, and past few weeks for me as well. There has been so much going on for me, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It's been a lot to process, but I am loving the many things God has been teaching and showing me through this journey here on earth! This past weekend, I got very very sick. I basically came down with a fever on Valentine's day (so so sad!) and was in bed with a  cold/flu for most of the weekend. Then, when I finally started feeling better yesterday, a horrid cough came over me and my voice decided to go on a little vacation and leave me behind. So here I am, voiceless, hacking a lung, and kind of frustrated that I can't talk. I'm hoping that some tea, rest, and silence will get this out of my system! I haven't been able to work out since Friday which is KIND OF irritating me, but I know I have to stick it out and rest up for this sickness to leave and hopefully never come back.

A number of weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled "Labeling Life," which is a very honest look at how our brains deal with the "diet labels" we put on ourselves. Ever since writing that post, I feel like God has been doing SUCH a work in my heart in regards to what I eat and why I eat the way that I do. I have felt such freedom in choosing foods that are healthy and work for me, even if they don't fit into a particular "diet philosophy" or mold. I've also come to realize that I can agree with a certain diet mentality, but not have to follow it 100% of the time. As one of my very close friends Michelle over at says at the end of each of her posts, "what works for me, works for me." I think this is SO true! 

Let me back up a bit. There are SO many diet books out there, right? I mean just go to any bookstore (or Amazon) and you will be overwhelmed at the amount of nutrition literature there is available to the general public. Which can tend to be confusing! There are books ranging from vegan, paleo, vegetarian, low-carb, high fat, and so on, and each of them have great attributes. However, following any one of those diets religiously, for the sake of following a set of rules, is not the healthiest thing to do for your body or mind. Your body needs a variety of foods, and so does your brain for that matter. Food is here to fuel us, but also to bring us enjoyment. When we over restrict foods, our brains tend to want those foods so much more.

When I first started my journey with gluten-free and paleo eating, I was seeking a diet philosophy that I could get sold on, 100%. I wanted a clear cut set of rules that could guide me and dictate my food choices. I wanted justification for why I ate the way that I ate. However, throughout this whole journey, which has been almost 2 years now, I've realized that diet is not about following rules, labels, or philosophies. It is about finding what works for you. Which is why I have decided to not follow any one diet mentality, making this a "Labeling Life part 2" type of post I guess! :)

As a dietitian, people think that I have it all together in regards to my food ideas and philosophies. However, I am here to tell you that I do NOT have it together. In fact, it's even harder for us dietitians sometimes! We have all this knowledge bouncing around in our heads: contradictory research, objective and subjective findings, and personal experience that all get confused in our brains. It is hard not to be conscious of the foods you are eating when you know so much about them. It is almost as if you "know too much," which can be overwhelming! I've realized that life has to be SO much more than just minimalistic views on food. Fruit is not just sugar. Grains are not just fiber. Protein is not just fat. Food is beautiful and made up of so many intricate components. There are good sides and bad sides to each food group. There are healthy proteins, and not so healthy proteins, healthy grains, not so healthy grains, healthy fats, and not so healthy fats, etc etc. We can choose the healthy foods we want to eat instead of restricting almost every food group while trying to have the "purest" and "cleanest" diet ever. This is just not possible...and life is about so much more! One verse that God keeps bringing to my mind is Romans 14:17, which states:

"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

I want to be healthy for the Lord. I want to glorify Him and honor the body He has given me. I want to be healthy so I can be effective to do the SO MUCH MORE that God has in store for me! I want to eat nutritious foods, but I want to be filled with righteousness, peace, and joy in the LORD, not in the rules that I follow. Being healthy should never be the end result, because our bodies are so temporary. We should strive to be healthy to glorify God, to learn the art of self-discipline in this very overindulgent world we live in, and be well equipped, energetic, and healthy to bear much fruit for the Lord.

I am so excited for this freedom in health that God has been showing me, and I know I still have so much to learn. We should make healthy choices to glorify God, not to follow some set of rules or ideology that start taking a life of their own, turning into over-restriction! I hope this post resonates with some of you out there, and I hope that my honesty and openness helps you reflect on why you have your health goals and where your priorities are in regards to why you want to be healthy! Having goals and making plans and health-conscious food choices are important, but let us never lose sight of what matters in life and WHY we want to be healthy!

Time Crunch Workouts!

Happy Weekend everyone!!! I hope you all are having a wonderful Saturday morning. It felt good to sleep in for me until 6:30am this morning! I am usually up and at 'em by 4:45/5am, so it was a treat to wake up and realize I had slept till 6:30! I went to the gym this morning and was able to workout for a little longer than usual, which got me thinking about how hard it has been to fit in my usual long workouts into my new work schedule. As many of you know, I just started my first real job in mid-January! I am working for WIC, which is a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children! I am in love with this job and feel so blessed by the Lord for this opportunity to work with, and serve the most amazing people! I have always been an early riser, so waking up early to get my workouts in before heading to work has not been too challenging. However, I have not been able to get in those long workouts that I was accustomed to before starting my job. I used to workout for about 60-90 minutes daily because a.) I loved it! and b.) I had allllllll the time in the world! :) Clearly, this is not the case anymore! Since I am definitely not an evening worker-outer, I have developed some strategies and tricks in order to get the most workout-bang for my time-buck these past couple of weeks. Here are some tricks if you are in a time crunch and looking to still get a great workout in the AM!


1.) Tone it Up workouts!

I love Tone it Up (TIU) workouts! They are usually between 10-20 minutes long and work all your major muscle groups. The trainers, Karena and Katrina, use strength training and toning moves that work multiple muscle groups at once, so you get both a cardio and toning workout! Check out their website ( for a complete list of their workouts! You can also search them on YouTube!

2.) Resistance, resistance, resistance!

I have learned that duration is not everything when it comes to working out! I could go on the elliptical for 60 minutes and barely break a sweat, or 30 minutes and be drenched by the end of my workout! It all depends on what resistance setting I have used. I have done my elliptical HIIT workout (check previous posts!) multiple times the past 2 weeks and always come out feeling like I did a major hour-long workout! I am drenched and my heart rate goes way up, which is the mark of any great workout! Play around with the resistance and crossramp settings on your machine and try 2-3 minute intervals of raising and lowering the resistance to keep your heart pumping and those calories burning!

3.) Toning large muscle groups

My third trick is to tone the largest muscle groups in the least amount of time. I usually try to work on my shoulders, back, chest, or legs EVERY day since the moves for these body parts usually get my heart rate going. I also include some biceps, triceps, and abs as supplemental exercises, but I always make sure to get those major muscle groups done! I do shoulder presses, which raises your heart rate since any movement lifting your arms above your head helps get your heart pumping. I do the chest press machine at the gym, as well as lat pulldowns and lat rows, which leave your back looking and feeling great! I also do deadlifts at least 3 times a week. I have worked up to a 30 lb bar (I started at 5 lb dumbbells...take that for progress!) and am loving the results. I also try to do the leg press machine or squats and lunges, depending on how my knee is doing (still nursing that injury...)!

In a typical workweek, my workouts usually last about 35-45 minutes every morning, depending on my schedule how much time I have before I have to get ready for work. Below are some examples of what my workouts have consisted of the past couple of weeks:

1.) TIU workouts: I absolutely love the new "love your total body 2 workout" which is 20 minutes long. I also do some of their more focused 10-minute workouts, which work specific muscle groups. I usually do these TIU workouts if I am staying home to exercise instead of heading to the gym!

2.) Bike for 30 minutes, chest press, deadlifts, biceps, triceps, abs

3.) Elliptical HIIT for 20-30 minutes, shoulder press, shoulder raise, lat row, leg press

4.) Bike 15 minutes, elliptical HIIT 20 minutes, lat pulldown, squats, lunges, abs

I hope this post gives you some ideas on ways that you can maximize your workout time with a busy schedule! Any workout is better than no workout, so even if you lift some weights in your bedroom for 15 minutes before getting ready for work, that counts and positively impacts your health! Planning out your workouts also ensures that you get them done in the morning so you feel energized throughout the day and don't have to worry about fitting them in at night! So get up and get moving people! And if you need some added motivation, here you go! :)