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 dietitian...in 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!

Workout Revelations and an Easy Lunch Idea!

Happy Thursday everyone! I can't believe it is almost the weekend, and almost mid-December! This month is flying by. I leave for a 2-week Hawaiian cruise with my parents in exactly 8 days and am getting more and more excited as the days go by! I'm planning on writing next week about how to have a healthy vacation (yes, even a healthy cruise!) and what my plans are during the vacation! I have been successful on 2 cruises in the past and actually came home having lost weight! So believe me, it IS possible! Today started out like any typical day. I had hoped to sleep in but woke up at exactly 5:55am and could not get back to sleep. But I did some early morning quiet time with Jesus, which I love, so it was worth it! I got ready for the gym and had my 2 carrot cake squares (check previous posts for the recipe!) while Pinteresting. Check out the cute pin I found a couple days ago! I want all of those disney workout shirts!!!!

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After having my pre workout meal, I headed to the gym for a double Elliptical and Bike workout, with some toning exercises. I have been having a workout revelation lately. As many of you know, I am a runner, but about 2 months ago my hip and knee starting giving me problems. The hip pain has resolved, as it was most probably an overuse injury. But pain in both my knees continued until I finally saw an orthopedic surgeon at the end of last month who believes I have many different "runners knee" type symptoms, as well as cartilage breakdown and possible meniscus tears in both knees. She told me to hold off on running for a couple months, and I am planning on starting physical therapy at the beginning of January! In the meantime, the list of approved exercises she gave me was very short: elliptical, stationary bike, toning workouts for my quads, hamstrings, and calves, with no squats or lunges (or bending in general) allowed! These limitations have caused me to become extra creative in and outside of the gym! I used to believe running was the best form of cardio, not to mention I absolutely loved running in general. But, I realized this week that, even though it has taken a while, I am actually enjoying my current workout regimen! I usually split up my cardio time between the elliptical and bike, and then either do some machines for toning at the gym, or come home and do a "body blasting workout" (BBW) of my own creation. My BBW is similar to my arm blasting workout (check a few posts back) but I have incorporated some leg movements to work my lower body in the most low-impact way possible. I'll try to post more about what this workout entails, but for now let's just say that I have definitely been feeling the burn! Between deadlifts, leg lifts/raises, and donkey kicks on the ground, not a day has gone by without my lower body being just as sore as my upper body! I've been absolutely loving all the toning work I've been doing. I've also realized that my time on the elliptical has been serving as a warm up for my new-found cardio love...the BIKE! I sweat like no other on that machine and always play around with the resistance to challenge my body. Wearing my heart rate monitor has also shown me that my heart rate on the bike is just the same, or sometimes even higher, than my heart rate would be when I would run. This shows that I am still getting a great cardio workout without any impact on my joints. Anyways! Long story short, or maybe it was still long :)...I am thoroughly enjoying my workout routine, even though I am anxious to get to the physical therapist in January and hopefully get back into running soon, while still incorporating the exercises I have been currently doing.

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After my workout, I headed to Trader Joe's to get a few things. I was already hungry before my workout (should have had that 3rd carrot cake square!) but didn't want to get too full before working out. I picked up a few essentials for us at the store, then headed home to make my egg white, chicken sausage, kale, and pepper scramble. I had zero patience while cooking my breakfast and had a banana while I waited! :)

After breakfast, I did a few things around the house (laundry, cleaning, etc.) and headed to the mall to get some quest bars! I'm in love with the new double chocolate chunk flavor and want to stock up before our cruise! I know the cruise has food available at all times, but I just love these bars so much I have to take a few with me!

Around 12:30 I started getting hungry for lunch. I wanted to whip up something quick, easy, healthy and delicious. I had some leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge and wanted to put it to good use! I love how versatile rotisserie chicken can be! I sautéed some broccoli in olive oil while I chopped up a sweet potato to pop in the microwave. I usually bake my sweet potatoes, but I was in a hurry so I used the microwave! I shredded some of the chicken breast off the rotisserie, and added that as well as the microwaved sweet potato into the skillet with the already sizzling broccoli! To season, I just used some garlic powder and salt-free cajun seasoning. You could also add buffalo hot sauce, sriacha, or even BBQ sauce to this bowl, but I just wanted to keep it simple and tasty! The combination of these foods tasted delicious and I was very full and satisfied afterwards!

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And now I am off to the mall again to meet up with one of my best friends! I just love the mall during Christmas...and might pick up a few more quest bars...haha :)

I hope you all are having a great Thursday so far!

Workout plan...FINALLY!

Happy Saturday everyone! I hope you all are enjoying this weekend so far. I am so excited to report that I can finally have more variety in my workouts! I've been doing random workouts at home, what I call my Arm Blasting Workout (ABW). I am still going to incorporate these into my workout routine because I have been getting so sore and really feel the difference these high-intensity toning exercises are making in my body. However, I saw an orthopedic surgeon yesterday who gave me some information on what is wrong with my knees and also gave me some strengthening and workout tips to get me back into running shape! Basically, everything that could be wrong with my knee is wrong with my knee...just kidding (kind of). I don't want to get too technical, but basically she believes I have ileotibial band syndrome, patellar tendonitis, and meniscus tears (non-surgical) in both my knees. There is also significant breakdown of cartilage in both my knees, which means that running has started to take its toll on my joints. I've always had bad knees, so I am not surprised that the breakdown has started already. But! There is hope. She believes that if I incorporate regular strengthening exercises into my routine for my quads, hamstrings, and calves, the strength in my legs can support my knees, which will in turn enable me to run again. Stretching also has to be a crucial part of my routine in order to prevent further injury. Lastly, she is going to send me to a physical therapist for some additional strengthening and correcting.

With that said, the approved workouts I can do are:

***Elliptical, bike, walking

***Leg extensions (quads), leg curls & dead lifts (hamstrings), and calf raises (no lunges or squats for now!)

***Obviously, upper body and abdominal workouts!

***NO running for at least 8 weeks

I was able to do 20 minutes of the elliptical today and then worked on my quads, back, and abs. With some stretching to top it off! It felt so good to be able to go to the gym again! So here is my workout plan for this coming week (stretching is a given everyday so I'm not going to put that down; and ABW takes anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes! Check back to previous posts for the ABW workout!)

November 24-November 30

11/24: Elliptical 15 minutes, bike 15 minutes, hamstrings, triceps, biceps

11/25: Elliptical 20 minutes, calf raises, ABW

11/26: Bike 15 minutes, quads, chest, ABW

11/27: Elliptical 30 minutes, hamstrings, back, TIU shoulder routine

11/28: Elliptical 45 minutes, calf raises, ABW (extra long today because...well...you know...THANKSGIVING!)

11/29: Elliptical 20, bike 10, quads, bi/tri

11:30: Elliptical 15, bike 15, hamstrings, back, ABW


That is the tentative plan for this week! Of course, I may add some TIU workouts here and there once they post their weekly schedule! I'm excited to add more variety into my workouts and hopefully build up the strength I need in my legs to start running again in a couple months.

Slow and Steady! Workout Plan: 9/8-9/14

Happy weekend everyone! I have been wanting to write a new workout post for a while, but I got very sick this week with a bad sinus infection and, thanks to antibiotics, am finally feeling a little better today! Needless to say, my workouts have suffered and I have mostly just done the elliptical with a few weight machines this week. However, I have been able to keep up with my plank challenge! Today was a hard one at 1:35, but I was able to pull through thank the Lord :) With that said, this week's plan is going to start out little slow. I have not been able to work out at the intensity I would like to, and I am very low energy as I try to get over this infection, so I am going to start with a short mileage and work my way up. Here is my tentative plan for the week:

9/8/13: 2 mile run, 20 mins elliptical HIIT, plank

Chest press, Tricep dip, and Tricep press

9/9/13: 3 mile run, plank

Nike Training Club class (this is strengthening and toning class for basically the entire body! I love these classes!)

9/10/13: 4 mile run, plank, swimming

Shoulder press, Lateral raises, Bicep curls

9/11/13: 5 mile run, plank, push ups

Leg press machine

9/12/13: 6 mile run, plank

Mid-row machine, Lat pull-down, Inner/outer thigh machine

9/13/13: 4 mile run, plank

Nike Training Club class

9/14/13: 6 mile run, plank, push ups

Chest press and Tricep dips

I am hoping that I can actually start on the right foot tomorrow morning with my 2 mile run. I have missed running SO much this week since I have been sick. Again, this is a tentative schedule. I may change things around this week depending on my health, schedule, and what is sore! However, I am hoping to stick to this plan! I will keep you posted using my Daily Manna posts on the days I have time to post :)

I hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Unintentional Elliptical HIIT

Good morning! Today is the last day of my dietetic internship! I am beyond excited and blessed to have been able to be a part of this program, getting both my Masters in Public Health and completing my dietetic internship in the hopes of becoming a Registered Dietitian! Lord willing, within a couple months, I will officially be an RD! :) This morning, I went to work out for the last time at the gym by my apartment. I have been packing all week, so I wanted to do a quick but effective workout that would leave me enough time to pack my last minute stuff into my car before heading off to work. My legs and knees have been sore from all the running I have been doing (can you tell I LOVE to run??) so after a 3 mile run this morning, I knew I didn't want to push too much further. However, I still wanted to get a little more of a workout in! I hopped onto the elliptical, which I usually treat as an easy, low intensity workout for me. But, this morning, I decided to play around with a few settings and make it a little more intense, which definitely worked! I made up this HIIT routine as I went along in accordance to what was challenging my body and muscles, as well as which settings were getting my heart rate up using my HRM. This is the routine I came up with, which lasted about 20 minutes. Since I tacked this onto my 3 mile run, I only went through it once. But, this could definitely be used as your sole workout and you could repeat it as many times as you want!



Each set for 2 mins

20 mins total

Incline 5: Resistance 7 Incline 5: Resistance 10 Incline 5: Resistance 6 Incline 5: Resistance 10 Incline 5: Resistance 8 Incline 5: Resistance 10 Incline 7: Resistance 7 Incline 7: Resistance 10 Incline 5: Resistance 10 Incline 5: Resistance 7

Repeat as many times as you want! Here are my stats from my workout:

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Let me just say, my heart rate never gets that high during an elliptical workout! I usually float between 135-145 while I am on the elliptical, which is why I've always viewed it as a rest day/cool down workout. But with this routine, you can be sure to get a good burn in without spending hours upon hours on the machine! Have a happy Friday everyone!