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!

"Make Good Choices" Monday

Wow! This day flew by for me. I had a training at our main office today which was SO good, it felt like a half day! We blinked and it was 5:30 already...I'm not complaining! Today was a great day as well because my mission of planning and making more balanced meals was a success! I may have slightlyyyyy deviated from my original plan I posted yesterday, but I still made good choices, ensuring my meals were balanced, healthy, and kept me fueled all day long! Here is a rundown of how my day went: I had my personal training session at 6am this morning, so I had one of my gluten free pumpkin protein squares before hitting the gym!


The workout was definitely a killer, but felt so good! We worked on chest and triceps, with a 25 minute interval run to top it off. As my post workout meal, I has some eggies with kale and a small banana. Gotta get that balance of protein and carbs! :)


I made sure to pack a filling day's worth of food for work today so I would not get hungry and tired again during my training. We learn so many new and valuable tools at our all-day trainings, so I wanted to be alert and awake to absorb all the information! I packed a peach for a snack, then had chicken, sweet potatoes, and an apple for lunch. Nuts were my afternoon snack before we got off!





Dinner was one of my favorites, Chipotle! I love their barbacoa and made sure to load up my bowl with lots of fajita vegetables, salsas, lettuce, and a few dollops of guacamole!



I felt like today was definitely a success! My meals were well thought out, contained adequate amounts of proteins, fats, and carbs, and kept me focused and energetic throughout the day. I also made sure to pack my lunch tonight for tomorrow so it is all set! That way I don't have an excuse for a lazy lunch if I am feeling rushed in the morning. Having your lunch packed the night before ensures that you will a) make good choices the next day and b) won't get stuck in a food emergency the next morning if you run out of time to pack a lunch! It's a win-win! :)

And on that note, this girl is definitely ready for bed!! Have an awesome evening everyone!

Life Lately

Happy Saturday everyone! I am so glad it is finally the weekend. I am currently icing my ankle as it has been randomly swollen all week. I had pain and tingling in it at the beginning of the week but worked out through the pain, then Thursday I noticed that it was seriously swollen! So I am icing and elevating and hoping it's nothing serious! photo 2-2

I thought I'd share my latest eats with you all and how life has been lately. In one word, life has been BUSY! I feel like every second of my week and weekends are accounted for. Thank God all my plans are fun with some lovely people, but I am actually looking forward to during the day today! Work has been keeping me busy too...always learning something new and slowly getting more and more comfortable! At least I have been able to keep up with my workouts and healthy eating through it all!

My latest pre-workout meals have been either toast with peanut butter, or some kind of baked good creation. This week, I used Nature's Own Honey Wheat bread to put my peanut butter on.

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I also baked some banana oat bread (recipe already posted!) with some added flaxseed (about 2 tablespoons) and an extra banana. This bread came out amazing!


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My workouts have been about 40-45 minutes long as I do not have much time in the AM before work! However, I am NOT an evening worker-outer, and will definitely blow off my workout the minute I get home from work. So I love getting my workout done in the morning because it fills me with a sense of accomplishment, as well as energy to sustain me throughout the day! I've been doing 30-40 minute bike workouts with some toning work at the end. Short and sweet!


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Post workouts have been tricky. Some mornings, I have time to make a nice meal after my workout. This week, I made oatmeal with half a scoop of protein powder, flaxseed, almond milk, bananas, and nuts! Oh and of course, tons of cinnamon!

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I also had some leftover beans in the fridge one morning and sautéed some kale and ate that with half an avocado. Seems more like a lunch, but it tasted great as breakfast too!

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And some mornings, I just grab a quest bar and go. I love these bars because they are full of protein and fiber and really act well as a post-workout meal when I am short on time!


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Lunches have been delicioussss this week. I packed tuna earlier on in the week, and had some trouble getting excited about it. Usually I love tuna, but I wasn't feeling it this week. I decided that I MUST pack foods I am excited to eat! Especially at work when that 30 minute lunch break is something I really look forward to! So, my mom and I made a Seven Bean soup recipe we got from our William's Sonoma soups cookbook. It's basically sautéing onions, garlic, bell peppers, and whatever veggies you have, adding however many types of beans you want, a can of diced or crushed tomatoes, and some broth. And viola! You've got a nice and healthy chili to take with you all week to work!


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I also made a salad with tons of greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, black beans, and avocado. Let's just say I've been on a bean and avocado kick lately :) such a great combo!


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Well, that's it for my update. I hope this post gives you some meal ideas for your busy week to come! Use this weekend for some serious meal planning and prepping to ensure healthy choices all week long! Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Redefining the Snack!

I love snacking and have always been a snacker! When I was younger, I would look forward to my afternoon snacks, which would usually consist of goldfish crackers while watching "Little House on the Prarie." (Loved that show!) Throughout the recent years, I have found that my nostalgic love of snacking still rings strong and true. I would much rather snack throughout the day than have 3 square meals a day. But, since most snack foods tend to be processed, high in salt and sugar, and not the healthiest of options, snacking has gotten a bad reputation. The action of snacking also stimulates us to eat more by triggering that mindless "put food in mouth, repeat, repeat, repeat" action, which makes it easy to ignore our satiety signals (aka your brain screaming "I am full so stop feeding me!!!") Makes you almost feel like a crazy cooke monster, huh?? images

I read an interesting article this week entitled "Half of eating occasions are snacks." Here is the link below!

A new report by the Hartman group states that more and more people are eating on the go, snacking, and replacing traditional meals with more snack foods. The authors stated that people are eating "on a whim" and "according to cravings," making them more likely to go through the drive thru, stop at a grocery store, or pick up a yummy baked good from the local bakery on their way home from work, school, or any function. The report also stated that half the time, people eat alone, which means that smaller portions are even more necessary. The report states that these snacks have become replaced meals, and some people are even starting to snack at home when they are too tired to make a full course, nutritionally balanced meal.

My opinion:

I am a healthy eater, but also love to snack. I completely understand the need to eat something on your way home, or the feeling of being too exhausted to cook a full meal after a long day at work. But, there are some healthy ways to prevent a snack attack that leads to an all day eating fest! Planning and prepping your meals and snacks are the key to establishing healthy meal and snacking patterns, leading to a happier and healthier life! Check a few posts back if you need some meal planning ideas, and keep reading for some snacking tips!

Since I get off work at 5:45pm, have a 45-50 minute commute home, I know that I will get hungry on my drive. I always make sure to either pack a quest bar or some nuts for my drive home.

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The combination of nuts with either veggies or fruit is also very satisfying and filling!

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In my experience, the key to being a healthy snacker is to PLAN your snacks. Most people plan meals, but simply leave the snacks up the chance. This usually leads to overeating snack foods such as chips, popcorn, candy, etc. The reason why these foods are SO easy to overeat is that they are full of sugar and very devoid of nutrition, which leads to these foods having addictive qualities. Think about it, have you ever eaten 4 plates of steak or grilled chicken? Your body just screams NO and physically doesn't let you because of all the nutrition and protein in these foods. But, have you ever polished off 4 baskets of chips and salsa without even thinking about it?? Be honest, because even I can answer that question with a  resounding YES! As delicious as some of these snack foods are, they have no internal mechanisms that make us say STOP EATING. Most snack foods do not contain adequate protein to keep us full and do what snacks are intended to do: keep us full enough till our next meal. Which is why, I recommend, redefining the snack!

1.) MINI-MEALS: A snack should really be more of a mini-meal. Think of your snack as a protein, veggies, and some healthy fats. If you have a hard-boiled egg, carrots, and a 1/4 cup of hummus, nuts, or guacamole, I guarantee that you will feel satisfied and full, without feeling the need to have a second, third, or fourth portion of this "snack" or mini-meal. Another idea is 2 oz grilled chicken, some snap peas or mini bell peppers, and a string cheese. This meal would fill you up without stuffing you up, and will keep your energy levels steady for a few hours instead of leaving you hungry and wanting more.

2.) QUICK STOP PROTEIN: When it comes to stopping on the way home for a snack, most people turn to Starbucks, fast food joints, or ice cream parlors. However, in the same amount of time it takes for you to pull into one of these food establishments, it would take the same amount of time to stop at a nearby grocery store with a prepared foods section and pick up a rotisserie chicken. Chicken has good protein, is a fast snack option that you can leave in your fridge at work, and can even be taken home to your family for a quick dinner. Just whip up a salad or some steamed veggies (keep a few bags of frozen veggies on hand for emergencies such as these!) and you've got yourself a nice protein+veggies meal! You can even boil cook up some sweet potatoes or some brown rice as a carbohydrate side as well.

The more our world changes and gets busier, the more our daily habits change as well. As this article has shown, the "traditional" meal is taking a back seat to snacking and eating on the go. Even though we all have busy schedules, don't let health and nutrition take a back seat as well! Use some of these tips, or create your own protein, veggie, and healthy fat meals that will help you stay full and resist the need for salty or sugary snacks. By packing each meal with as many nutrient-dense foods as possible, you will leave your body and brain satisfied and going strong throughout the day, preventing the overeating and mindless snacking that so often occurs when you let yourself go hungry! So go ahead, redefine your snacks, and see how much better your moods, energy, and overall health will be!


Meal Planning Made Simple!

As a dietitian, and an overall planning and organization nerd, I have always loved to plan what I am about to do. I love scheduling and making list, and this habit has spilled over into my eating habits and meal plans as well! This is something I am definitely grateful for. Cooking and planning your meals usually leads to spending less money, making healthier choices, and actually enjoying your meals more! There is something about cooking and preparing your own food that makes you appreciate it so much more when you sit down to eat your meals! :) Since starting work not too long ago (11 days ago to be exact), I have taken my love of meal planning to a whole new level. I have been meal prepping on the weekends and planning my meals like there is no tomorrow, and I love it! Last night, as I was preparing food for the week, I was filled with such joy in my kitchen! I have always been a firm believer of helping people use food to their benefit and not their detriment, so planning and cooking my own meals that benefit my health just fits right in to my philosophy! This practice of mine has also led to WAY less waste money and food-waste, which is always a needed bonus in today's world. I thought I would share some of my meal planning tips and tricks for you all who are crunched on time but still want to plan and pack your meals for work, school, and the like!

I usually do my meal planning and prepping on the weekends. On Saturdays, I assess what I already have in the kitchen to see what I can use up before my buy more food. Based on this, I make my meal plan and write out any additional items I need from the store. On Sundays, I head to the store, stock up, and get to cooking. Trader Joe's has been my go-to grocery store to shop from. A little can go a long way in this store, and they usually carry exactly the foods I am looking for. Prepping most of my meals on the weekends ensures minimal to none meal prep needed throughout the week, which works for a busy schedule! I have included my easy meal planning tool below to assist anyone that needs a little boost to start planning their meals! Just click on the link and save!

Easy Meal Planning Tool

Below are some of my meals from my first few days at work. Most of the recipes are up on the blog, and some of the other meals are just the assemble and pack type!

Breakfast Ideas:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you don't have time to eat something before heading to work in the morning, it is crucial that you have food on hand to grab and go! Eating breakfast helps you wake up and be more alert throughout the day, and also decreases the chances of mindless snacking later on! Eating in the morning also regulates your hormones and helps your metabolism get up and moving! One of my favorite breakfast options are hardboiled eggs. These are so easy to prepare, and you can boil a large quantity at a time and keep them in the fridge (with the shell on) for 5-7 days! You can peel them the night before consumption, or spend 30 seconds peeling them in the morning. They are the perfect nutritious and protein-packed meal option. You can pair an egg with some fruit or even some sweet potatoes. I used my spiralizer to get those sweet potatoes spiraled, and just popped them in the oven on 400 degrees F for 40 minutes, flipping and mixing them around on the pan in between.

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Another breakfast option is to make one of my many famous and healthy baked goods. I have a variety of recipes on this site ranging from gingerbread, pumpkin bread, carrot cake, brownies, and banana bread that are all healthy enough to eat for breakfast! I use protein powder and healthy ingredients to make these baked goods not only taste good, but also fill you up in the morning! Below is my banana oat bread! Check out the rest of the recipes to make as quick and delicious breakfast options!

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Lunch Ideas:

Lunch is one of those meals that you definitely want to make you feel satisfied and full. I don't know about anyone else, but for me, the afternoon is one of the most dangerous times for me to snack! I have been making sure to have filling and satisfying lunches while at work so I don't have an energy crash and burn, or get those snack cravings in the afternoon! I made a spaghetti squash casserole last week (recipe is posted) which lasted for about 4 days! It tasted delicious! I paired it with veggies or a salad to make it a well-rounded and filling meal!

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My zucchini stew recipe is also an easy one to make in bulk and pack for the week! My recipe below was made with grass-fed beef, zucchini, and a few other delicious flavors. This meal kept me going for hours and equipped me with great energy during the day! Check out the recipe to make some for the week!

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Below is an assemble and pack meal option. I usually cook my own chicken but was short on time this weekend, so I grabbed the prepared Lemon Pepper Chicken from Trader Joe's, which is usually next to the prepared salads. All you do is slit some holes in the chicken container, stick it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes, and viola! This chicken is actually really delicious too, and I am very picky about my meat! I also bought the stir fry vegetable mix from Trader Joe's, which is just a ton of fresh, chopped vegetables! I sautéed these with some olive oil and garlic. Lastly, I used some microwaved, boiled, roasted, or however-you-want-to-cook-them sweet potatoes to add some healthy starch to my meal! I portioned it all in my nifty ziploc container, and this made the perfect lunch for work!

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Snack ideas:

It's a good idea to pack some snacks with you, just in case you do get hit with hunger and don't want to give in to cake, donuts, or whatever else may be lying in the break room. I usually pack some vegetables or high-protein snacks to make sure these snacks will provide me with nutrients, not just empty calories. String cheese is a good option, but my favorite snack combination is carrots with nuts. I don't know why, but this combination tastes incredible! Don't knock it till you've tried it! In addition to how delicious it tastes, it also keeps you insanely full. I usually have some around 3 or 4 pm to make sure I am full and energetic for my long commute home, since I usually don't have dinner until about 7pm on most nights!

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I hope this post helps spur some ideas for planning and packing your foods for your workday! If you carve out a few hours of your weekend and dedicate them to planning and prepping your meals, you will be sure to make healthier choices throughout the week, waste less food and money, and enjoy your meals 10 times more than you would if you were eating out every day! I hope you all have as much fun as I do while planning and prepping your meals for the week! Have a great night everyone! 

Zucchini Stew & My Last Day of "Freedom!"

Well, today was my last day of unemployment. Everyone keeps saying it's my last day of freedom, which I accept. I won't be able to spend hours at the gym anymore, cook long drawn-out meals for myself, read a book a day, or go see 10am movies for $7. But, I am beyond blessed to have gotten this job and am so excited to start my career as a Registered Dietitian! I woke up around 5:30 this morning and immediately got up to get a head start on my day. I had things that I had to get done today, such as cleaning my closet and organizing my clothes, so I didn't waste any time! As I've mentioned before, one of my goals this year is to read through the entire Bible in one year. I finished the book of Genesis today, so one book down and 65 to go! I especially love Genesis 50:20, when Joseph reconciles with his brothers that sold him into slavery and says, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20 ESV)

I love this verse because it basically sums up God's redemptive work in our lives. There is a lot of evil and hard situations in the world we live in, so we definitely need the grace of God to get us through the life He has given us on earth!! But what is meant for evil towards us, God can redeem and work out for our good! I've experienced this countless times in my own life. When things are going horribly or I have no idea why something is not working out, I remember that God means for things to turn out for good according to His plans and purposes! It fills me with peace and comfort, because even though I may have no idea what I am doing, God always knows, and His plans are way better than mine! Just check out the following verses!

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9 ESV)

After my quiet time, I had a quick pre-workout meal before going to the gym. I had my favorite halloum cheese again melted in one of my grain-free tortillas! Check a few posts back for the link to the recipe I used by Against All Grain!

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I still felt a little hungry after my cheese sandwich, and I didn't want to run low on fuel during my workout! So I had a few of our many macadamia nuts before heading out the door!

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My workout was pretty good today! Which is great because I'm definitely going to have to tweak and adjust my workout schedule once I start my new job tomorrow!! This morning, I did 3 miles on the elliptical, and 12 miles on the bike (which is the equivalent of 4 miles for my 150 miles by valentines day challenge)! I'm at a total of 83/150 miles so far.

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After my cardio, I did some deadlifts, the lat row machine, and the tricep machine! I'm excited because I've definitely been feeling stronger and needing to up my weight, which is a sign of progress! The minute I got home, before losing motivation, I also did my TIU Love your Booty routine for the Love Your Body challenge I am doing with Tone it Up!

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After my workouts, I made some egg tacos and used my last two grain-free tortillas to wrap them up. I was so sad I was out of tortillas, but I'll definitely be making these again on a regular basis because I just loved them!!

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It was almost 9:30 after my breakfast, but I was still not feeling motivated to clean my room. I decided to do the quick TIU Beach yoga routine instead before showering and attacking my closet.


The yoga routine is 20 minutes, challenging, and gave me the right balance of relaxation and motivation to get to my closet. But, after my shower, I skyped with one of my best friends that moved away a week ago, which was a definite necessity since I miss her like crazy! Then, I finally turned my attention to the clothes! It felt so nice weeding out things that I've had since high school but NEVER wear, and organizing all of my shoes and outfits. It also helped me see that I really DO have ample clothes for a business casual wardrobe, and will not be needing to go shopping for work clothes...drat! :)

After packaging up by clothes to give away, I looked at the time and it was almost 1pm! I reheated the remainder of my turkey chili and sliced up some cucumbers into little "chips" to dip into my hummus. I was STUFFED by the end of this meal! Something about the protein, fat, and veggie combination in that chili makes it a nutritional punch and fills you up, setting you up for an energetic afternoon instead of a slump! Check a few posts back to see my easy peasy turkey chili recipe!

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After lunch, I decided to spend some time out of the house. I wanted to do something fun on my last day as a free woman, so I decided to head to my local Peet's coffee shop and enjoy some time outside while reading and sipping on my favorite Masala Chai tea! The weather has been beautiful here, so I wanted to enjoy every minute of it! And I was even able to wear my cute green shorts in January...and what could be better than that!??

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I spent over 2 hours at Peet's reading, journaling, and doing some Bible study homework. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and I didn't want to tear myself away, but knew I had to get home. After cleaning up my room a little more, I got to cooking dinner with my Mama! My family makes an amazing zucchini stew that is usually served over rice, but since adopting a more grain-free diet, I've eaten it just by its lonesome without the rice, and have never looked back! I don't even miss the rice because the zucchini, beef, and tomato sauce give so much flavor to this dish that is still tastes delicious even on its own. It is the perfect bowl of comforting goodness, which is why I put it on the menu for tonight! I wanted to make a meal that was warm, nourishing, and would make enough for leftovers for me to take to work tomorrow. This meal was just that!

Zucchini Stew (makes 6 servings)

2 T olive oil

1 cup diced onions

1 lb ground beef (we used the grass fed 85/15 from Trader Joe's)

6 medium-sized zucchini

1 15 oz diced tomatoes

3 T tomato paste

1 t salt

1/2 t red pepper

1/2 t black pepper

1/2 t all spice

Start by heating up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the ground beef and chop it up into tiny pieces until it is cooked through.

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While the beef is cooking, wash and slice up your zucchini into thin disks!

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Once the meat is cooked all the way through, add the zucchini, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings! Mix all the ingredients together, then leave the pot over medium heat for about 1 hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes. There should be enough liquid in the pot since zucchini release a lot of moisture, but if the mixture ever gets dry, add a bit of water to it!

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Once the zucchini cooks through and gets mushy, the dish is done! It should resemble a stew-like consistency.


We thoroughly enjoyed this meal tonight; my parents added rice to theirs, but I enjoyed the stew as is! I hope you all get to try this dish this winter; it's perfect for cold and cozy nights! Not to mention it is gluten/grain free, paleo, and Whole 30 approved!


Well, my last evening as a free woman is coming to a close! Now I have to pack my lunch for tomorrow (that's going to take getting used to!) and run a few errands before bed! I need to find a purse that is cute, professional, but still big enough to hold my nalgene water bottle, notebook, and any other necessities I may need at work. It's definitely hard to find a purse with all of those qualities, but I am determined!! I hope you all have a wonderful night! The next time you hear from me, I will be a working girl! :)

New job!!! Lemon-mint salad dressing, and Daily Manna!!

Hello everyone! Whoa look at that, two posts in a row! I am so excited today to announce that I finally got a job!!! photo 2-2

I have been in the interview process for a job at WIC (a program for women, infants, and children that provides supplemental food and nutrition education) for a few months now. Since first learning about WIC 6 years ago, I have been wanting to work there! How amazing is it that you get to empower and support women and kids to get the right nutrition and have access to healthy foods?! I am beyond blessed that this job came to me and I have been thanking God non-stop for this amazing opportunity! I officially start training this Thursday, January 16th (ahhh 1 day left!) and I just cannot wait!

My day was quite a busy one! Even though I still feel like I haven't done much. I have been wondering if I will miss the life of unemployment, but I think I am way too excited about this job to ever look back! Dear Home, it's been nice, but I am SO ready to get out there!

I woke up around 5:30am this morning and did some quiet time. Some people are amazed at how I wake up so early, but let me tell you, it's taken years of practicing how to sleep. I'm serious! From the time I was a child, I was a chronic insomniac and was never able to sleep. I would be up all night, tossing, turning, reading, walking around my room, or just staring blankly at the ceiling praying that morning would somehow come sooner...just this once. About a year and a half ago, when I began to cut out gluten and some other inflammatory grains, I noticed such a huge difference in my sleep! I was able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer (I sound like a commercial). I also learned that I MUST pay attention to my body's cues. If I get sleepy at 9pm, I have to take advantage of that window of opportunity, and actually sleep at 9pm! If I fight my sleepiness, I end up staying awake all night long. So now, if I am sleepy at 9pm, I sleep at 9pm! I try to listen to my body, not only when I eat and when I workout, but also for rest and relaxation. I know that the only way I will be able to be the best version of me is when I am healthy, active, and rested!

So anyways, after my quiet time, I had 2 of my paleo tortillas from yesterday with a bit of almond butter smeared on top. These tortillas are absolutely amazing and are from the Against All Grain website if you want to check it out! I included the link in my post yesterday! :)

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I had an okay workout today. I was feeling really low energy for some reason, so I didn't push myself speed or resistance-wise. I still did about 30 minutes on the elliptical and 25 minutes on the bike, but I definitely didn't try to challenge myself. I broke a sweat and burned some calories while still going easy on myself, which is what I needed! I also did some shoulder and bicep work, along with the chest press machine and the lat pulldown machine.

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I got home and felt so exhausted, and was starving! I decided to not only have my usual veggie omelet, but also have yet another paleo tortilla (I'm telling you, I love these things!) with some of my favorite Middle Eastern cheese melted inside!

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Halloum cheese has been my all time favorite cheese every since I was born. I blame this cheese for the reason why I can't stand cheddar, monterey jack, or any other typical American cheeses. This cheese is just THAT good. It's made from sheep's milk, it's pretty high in fat, and I really don't care one bit! :) I melted two sticks of it in my tortilla this morning, it was delicious, and I enjoyed every bite of it!

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After breakfast, I finished up a great book I have been reading called "Lazarus Awakening" by Joanna Weaver about really enjoying your personal relationship with God, believing that God loves you, and living as an ALIVE person in His love and promises. It was such an incredible study, with questions and journal reflections at the back of the book! I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a bible study/devotional book!

Around 10:45am, I headed out to an appointment I had, which was about a 40-minute drive away. The appointment also lasted a while, so I didn't get to have my lunch until about 1:30pm! Boy am I glad I had a filling breakfast! I reheated some of my yummy turkey chili (recipe is in yesterday's post!) and had some veggies with hummus as a side!

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I started reading an article on green tea after lunch, but about halfway through I decided to get up and do the new Tone it Up Love Your Arms and Abs routine! I had crazy amounts of energy after lunch, which is ironic considering I was exhausted this morning, and atypical of the usual afternoon slump that people suffer from. So I wanted to take advantage of my energy and do the workout two times through, but my sore muscles were not having it. My arms and back were still sore from my workout a few days ago, so I just did the routine once. I absolutely LOVED it though, and will definitely be doing it again!

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The afternoon was busy with some errands: picking up my car from the dealer's and going grocery shopping! My mom and I made fish and salad tonight, with some leftover roasted potatoes from her dinner last night! It was so cute because I walked into the kitchen and my mom was busy portioning her almonds in little containers for work! How cute is that?! She is definitely the mother of a some respects haha :)

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We usually get the pre seasoned Cajun salmon from Trader Joe's on fish night! This salmon is so delicious, has good ingredients (nothing funky!) and is so easy to make! We just popped it on the stove top in some foil for about 25-30 minutes while we chopped up our salad, and dinner was served!

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Everyone asks us about our homemade lemon-mint salad dressing. Honestly, I have no idea how to explain this recipe, because it's definitely one of those "eye-balled" recipes the women in my family have been making for generations. But, for a standard sized salad mixing bowl (about 8-10 inches in diameter) filled with lettuce and veggies, we use approximately these measurements of the following ingredients!

Lemon-mint dressing:

2 T lemon juice

2 T olive oil

1/4 t salt

1/4 t red pepper

1/4 t crushed mint

1 clove garlic, crushed (OR use 1/4 t garlic salt for both the garlic and salt)

Pour the ingredients straight onto the salad, toss, and enjoy! This dressing is light, healthy, and tastes great with pretty much any salad combination!

After dinner we had Bible study, and then headed back home! Now for some Downton Abbey before bed...unless I get sleepy, in which case it's bed for me! I hope you all have a wonderful night!

Arm Blasting Workout and Dining Out Tips!

I am finally going to share with you what I have been calling my "random" or "arm" workouts! I am seeing the doctor soon and canNOT wait to figure out what is causing all of this pain in my knees and hips! In the meantime, I have been trying to keep myself busy and active in the most pain-free way that I can. I also thought I'd share my meals on a day where I did not have the chance to cook all my foods and dined out instead! There are ways to eat healthy and still enjoy your meals while dining out! Read on to find out how! :) This morning, I woke up and started my day with Jesus! Everyone spends time with Jesus in a different way, but I feel that I am at my best in the mornings and want to begin the day with God before I do anything else. I spent some time reading and reflecting on 2 Corinthians 3-4 and wrote down some verses that stood out to me. I especially loved verses 17-18 in chapter 3 where Paul writes that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM! Which means we can be free from anything that is weighing us down once we accept Jesus and have his Holy Spirit living in us. Because wherever His Spirit is, there is freedom; freedom from habits, worry, guilt, shame, (ahem, text anxiety) or any other feelings or situations that have a hold on us. I just love the freedom that God always promises His children, and the peace that inevitably comes with that freedom!

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After my quiet time, I made some breakfast, which consisted of my usual scramble with kale, peppers, and a side of avocado. Yum!

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I studied for a little while after breakfast and then decided to do my short workout that I have been doing lately since I have been out of commission. This workout got my heart pumping and my arms burning! I finally jotted the exercises down today (picture below). I do each exercise for 1 minute and the whole list for 2 rounds, for a total of 20 minutes. The faster you do the moves, the more calories you burn. In just about 6-7 songs, this workout is accomplished!

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After I was done, I was drenched and out of breath! And produced a nice little calorie burn!

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After studying some more, I decided to take a break and get out of the house to walk around my local mall. I knew I wouldn't be having lunch until later, as I was meeting my cousin around 1:30. I decided to pack a small snack with me to eat at the mall. Even though I know the mall has food and I could have gotten a snack from there, I definitely didn't want to give in to the smells of sugary pretzels, salty popcorn, or sweet cinnamon rolls! I know my body pretty well, and knew I would get hungry at the mall. I always make sure I have a small snack with me at all times so I can have something to fall back on while I am out and there are limited healthy options! SO! I packed one of my gingerbread cake squares (recipe posted!) and some grapes.

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This was the PERFECT snack while I was walking around and enjoying all the Christmas decorations!

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After spending some time at the mall, I drove back home and studied some more (surprise, surprise). When it came time for lunch, I decided to walk down to the restaurant where I was meeting my cousin. I bundled up (yay for fall weather, FINALLY!) and took the short 10 minute stroll down to the restaurant.

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The restaurant we went to had a wide variety of foods ranging from salads, sandwiches, wraps, pastas, and grilled BBQ options. For lunch, I had a salad with a ton of yummy veggies and some tri-tip! I asked for the dressing of the salad on the side to regulate how much dressing I was using. This place usually brings their salads swimming in dressing, and I definitely didn't want that. The tri-tip portion was HUGE, so I could only stomach a few slices! This was a great meal that left me feeling comfortable and full. They brought out two breadsticks with my meal as well, but I didn't even feel like eating them. Protein with veggies is such a satiating and satisfying combination, which is why I usually stick to these options while eating out.

For dinner, my parents and I decided on Cheesecake Factory. I usually get the same old chicken lettuce wraps, salmon, or salads every time I go to Cheesecake, but this time I wanted something different. This is also a very important factor when going out. Try new things! This way you will have a variety of healthy options instead of feeling stuck with only one healthy dish per restaurant, which can get mundane. It is always possible to tweak meals and ask for special orders while going out! Your health is important, so don't be too shy to ask (politely of course)! :) My friend gave me the suggestion to try the turkey burger, so I got it lettuce wrapped with a side salad! It was DELICIOUS!

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Overall, this was a great day for healthy choices. I was able to get a short workout in even with my injuries. And I did not let eating out stop me from making healthy choices! To summarize my tips below:

*I have a healthy snack on hand while I am out, just in case hunger strikes...

*I have mostly protein and vegetables when dining out...

*I ask for sauces and dressings on the side, and...

*I am always up for experimenting and trying new things!

Boredom with food is such a sad place to be, especially if you are a foodie like me! That is why variety and FUN are so important when it comes to making healthy choices.

I hope you all have a wonderful night and get a chance to try the arm blasting workout!

Just keep walking, just keep walking...

Happy Tuesday everyone! I have been such a bad blogger lately, but I am determined to get back at it! One reason being I miss writing and it is such a stress relief for me during this crazy time of studying! And also because I want to try some new recipes soon and get back in the kitchen! It's been hard to cook lately since my schedule has been taken over by studying for my RD exam. But I'm hoping to get back to the cooking and baking soon!

Update on my hip/knee situation: Basically, all I have been doing for the past week is walking, walking, walking. My new shoes have been working out really well for me!

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I still have some aches and pains, so I am continuing my walk/stretch/ice regimen for a couple more weeks. I'm hoping to maybe be able to start running by December...Christmas present to myself?? Here's to hoping!

My days have been pretty routine lately. Basically, I have been waking up in the mornings, having my quiet time, then heading to the gym. This song has been in my head for days and days, and I have had it on repeat all morning! I highly recommend it :)

Yesterday morning, I woke up and made some banana peanut butter waffles. My dad had the day off, so I decided to make us some breakfast before heading to the gym!

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I walked for 30 minutes, then did the TIU shoulder routine (I've posted this before, it's great! Just look back a few posts for the video!)

I came back home, showered, and hit the books with studying for my RD (registered dietitian) exam. There is so much information I need to know, and I am feeling pretty overwhelmed! But I am studying the best I can and praying for focus! Around 11am (I know, early, right?) I made a quick lunch for my dad and I. I seasoned some canned in water tuna with some olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper, and garlic powder. It tasted great in our flat out bread! We also had a side of carrots with eggplant hummus (my favorite kind from Trader Joe's!)

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After lunch, my dad and I headed to Peet's to have some tea and study/read. It was so nice having my dad to hang out with yesterday. I am usually home alone during the days studying and just keeping myself busy. It was such a blessing to have some company! I got the Masala Chai tea and munched on an apple later on in the afternoon. I knew I'd get hungry before dinner since we had lunch so early, so I planned ahead and brought a juicy and delicious apple!

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I also had a small handful of nuts when we got home from the coffee shop. I was still feeling hungry and knew I wouldn't make it until dinner. 

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I was contemplating just staying home for dinner so I could continue my studying, but my parents convinced me to get out and spend some time with my family, which I'm so glad I did! Life is all about balance, and I knew that I would just burn out if I continued studying through the night instead of getting out. We went out to one of my favorite restaurants, Pita Jungle! This place uses such fresh and healthy ingredients, and I can always count on their food tasting delicious. I got the broiled chicken pita wrap!

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After dinner, I studied some more but could not keep my eyes open after 9pm! I know, grandma status. I finally decided to sleep around 9:30. I tend to listen to my body when it comes to sleep and not fight it, because if I do, I've found that I miss my window of opportunity for good sleep and end up staying up all night and being very restless!

So that was my day yesterday! I am hoping to do some baking and cooking soon and get back on here to share some recipes with you guys! I hope you all have a fabulous day! :)



Rest Day: Daily Manna 10/17

Soooo this Daily Manna is being written a day late, but that's okay! It's also probably not a very exciting one, because yesterday was a rest day. I am not a fan of rest days! I know I may be a rare breed but I literally wake up in the mornings excited for my run and my workout! But, I knew I had to take a rest day yesterday because of my hip/knee (and possibly today too...icing my injuries at the moment). My pain has progressively gotten worse over the past week, to the point where my entire right leg feels like dead weight. I regretfully decided to take a rest day yesterday, so this is what my day looked like! I woke up early per usual, since my internal clock believes the day will go to waste if I wake up after 6:30am. However, I've always been okay with this because it makes me feel very productive. I am a morning person through and through. After my quiet time, I decided to channel my usual morning energy from my workout to some study energy! I took my mom to work and was at a coffee shop by 7:30am with my RD study book studying away.

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As you can tell, I was very sad to be taking a rest day, but decided that my Mickey and Minnie shirt would obviously make me feel better! :) I also thoroughly enjoyed my new and improved pumpkin bread recipe! I am trying to decrease the amount of protein powder I am using and increase the almond flour to help with how fluffy the baked good is coming out, and boy was I successful! I'm going to do the same thing with my brownies today and see if it will make them equally as moist and fluffy! And I can hopefully post these new and improved recipes soon!

ANYWAYS! I got to coffee bean and studied straight for about 2 hours...

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I then decided to take a break for my apple and 100 calorie pack of almonds!

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I read some of my book during my break as well ("Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis) and then continued to study until about 11am. My brain was definitely feeling tired at this point. I went to Chipotle to grab lunch for my friend, my mom, and myself! I then headed to my mom's work to have lunch with them!

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Lunch was kind of disappointing. I haven't had the meat at chipotle for a few weeks every since I tried the barbacoa (which usually tastes great) and had an awful experience with it. But I also don't like just getting beans and rice because, even though it tastes great, it doesn't fill me up as much as the protein. I decided to be brave and try the bowl with 1/2 barbacoa and 1/2 chicken...which was a bad idea since I got sick again...ohhhhh Chipotle. SO good but so bad...I guess I will have to stick to my beans and rice and make sure I have substantial protein and go easy on the grains during the day!

I ended up staying at my mom's work and studying there for a while longer until my brain just could not take it anymore! I had my snackie snack while reading some of my Bible. I love having some Bible time mid-day. My quiet times in the morning are so special to me, but sometimes I need that little reminder during the day of God's promises and how much He loves and cares for me! :)

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We had an early dinner last night and I forgot to take a picture of it even though we went to one of my favorite pizza places! Yes, I said pizza! I love this place and the gluten in the crust is definitely worth it to me! They make their pizza so fluffy and fresh and delicious. We usually start out with a yummy and light salad, followed by our pizza! My mom and I shared a "personal" sized veggie pizza, which is actually enough for about 3 people! I had two slices and definitely savored every bite of each slice! I've realized that, if I space out my gluten enough, it doesn't bother my tummy as much. But if I have too much of it in one day, or all day for a few days in a row, that's when the problems occur. I am happy to report that last night's dinner did not bother me and I enjoyed every single bite! I promise to take pictures next time, because the pictures definitely portray how yummy this pizza really is!!!

Currently, I am icing my hip and knee, which is really helping with the inflammation and pain. I was planning to take a rest day today as well, but I am contemplating going to the gym to do an easy elliptical workout and some weights. I guess I will see as the day progresses!

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and weekend! :)