Friday Night Picnic Date

Last Friday night, I decided to plan a little surprise date for my fiancé and I. He has been working so hard for the past few weeks, staying at work late and going in early. I wanted to do something special and nice for him that would be personal but also relaxing so we could enjoy a nice Friday night together. We only see each other during the weekends, so we try to make the most of that time. I was brainstorming ideas and finally decided that I would plan a nice picnic with all of our favorite foods. The weather has been beautiful lately, so a picnic worked out perfectly! I got to work on the menu earlier in the week and made sure I made a list of all the ingredients I needed. I also carved out Thursday night as my night to cook and bake so I would be well prepared before Friday! This was the menu that I planned out:



Milton's gluten free crackers



Mediterranean Meatballs from Picket Fence Paleo (

Salads in Mason jars

Hawaiian bread rolls




Carrot cake muffins (recipe coming soon!)


I wanted something yummy and light as an appetizer or something to snack on at the park during our picnic. We love hummus and I have recently been on a Milton's gluten free crackers kick, so I thought that would be perfect as a snack food. We also dipped the meatballs in the hummus, which...YUM!!!!!

photo 5

I decided to make Mediterranean-style meatballs. I used the Picket Fence Paleo recipe, but omitted the olives and apricots. These meatballs turned out absolutely delicious! I highly recommend them. I also bought some Hawaiian bread rolls so my fiancé could make meatball sandwiches. He loves this bread, it is always so fluffy and yummy! So I thought I would treat him with that option. My mason jar salads also complimented the meatballs nicely! I used a red wine vinaigrette on the bottom, then loaded all the veggies in!

photo 3

photo 1-2

photo 1

The carrot cake muffins were also baked on Thursday night. I had to try a few versions of various recipes before I came up with one that I was pleased with! I will be sharing this recipe soon! I packed a few muffins along with some green grapes...Vasken's favorite!

photo 2

photo 2-2

photo 4-3

I had such a nice relaxing time together. Thank you to my friend Jessica for the cute strawberry blanket for our picnic!!!!


I'm so glad with how this evening turned out. The food was delicious and it was such a cute, fun, and relaxing way to start the weekend together! Take advantage of this beautiful summer weather, and plan a healthy and fun picnic for your loved ones as well!!! Have a great day 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.

photo 1-2


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!


photo 1


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!


photo 3-2


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!

photo 1-3


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!

photo 4


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!


photo 2

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!


photo 3

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!


photo 2-3


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!

Back to the Basics

Happy Monday everyone! I hope everyone has started this week off with a bang! I thought I'd share my eats of the day with you all as some inspiration to show that sometimes, simple really is better! These past few weeks have been filled with ups, downs, stresses, events, good food, and good times for me. However, I woke up today thinking "I neeeeeed some simple, easy, clean foods back in my life!" So I decided to just plan my meals out and make them as simple, fresh, and easy as possible. And let me tell you, it felt great! Going back to the basics of having lean protein, fresh veggies and fruits, and healthy fats helps you appreciate these delicious and nutrient-dense foods in their natural form, and reminds you of how satisfying and satiating they can actually be! So here is my day! :) I woke up and had a banana before my workout this morning. I am finally get back into working out after being sick for 2 weeks! I did the bike with some toning work afterwards for my arms!

photo 1


After my workout, I made a quick veggie scramble before heading off to work.



For my day at work, I packed berries, salad with grilled chicken that I prepped last night, veggies, and nuts. These meals/snacks were so simple and were all from fresh, real foods. They kept me full and energized all day long!

photo 2

photo 1-2

photo 3

photo 4


After work, I met my parents at one of my favorite restaurants...Lemonade! I got their Pineapple chicken salad and Thai veggie salad. These salads are both so light and delicious and are filled with more of those fresh veggies!

photo 2-2


Whoever says vegetables don't fill you up has definitely never...well...eaten vegetables! Veggies are so filling because of their high water and fiber content. Plus they require lots of chewing, forcing you to eat slower and enjoy your food. This helps your body take time to digest, and helps your brain send those helpful "I am full so you can stop eating" signals. In addition to the nutritional benefits of vegetables (fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc), they are also great for volume eaters, like myself! I'd rather have a whole big bowl of something than a teeny tiny slice of anything else. That is why I love to fill my plate with lots of fresh, non-starchy veggies that are crunchy, fun to eat, and that fill me up! One of the best things I've ever done for my health is try to incorporate vegetables into at least 75% of my meals for the day, whether that is in scrambles, stir-fries, salads, snacks, soups, etc. Also, pairing high-quality proteins such as eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, or fish, with your vegetables is the best way to help you stay full and energized all day long, without compromising your healthy eating goals!

Whenever you are stressed out about meal planning or just need to snap out of some old habits creeping back up, just go back to your basics. Grab a protein, surround it with tons of veggies, and add some healthy fats to the mix. Simple, easy, healthy, and delicious!

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.

photo 3

photo 1


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

photo 2


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!


Article Review: Picking Your Battles with Meat

The article I am writing about today discusses the dangers of processed meats.  Processed meats are usually a staple in most people's diets, whether the person is careless about his or her health, or an extremely health conscious individual. Every now and then, we all need a little convenience in our lives! However, this article does a great job of clearly outlining the different dangers associated with a high consumption of processed meats, while making the public aware of some healthier alternatives. This article is entitled "Processing of meats and cardiovascular risk: time to focus on preservatives." Here is the citation before I forget!

Micha, Renata, et al. "Processing of meats and cardiovascular risk: time to focus on preservatives." BMC medicine 11.1 (2013): 136.


The purpose of this article was to explain why deli meats have been associated with adverse health effects, as well as to provide ways to enjoy meats in healthy and less harmful ways. The article begins by expressing how the consumption of red meat has been considered to be a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease because of saturated fat and cholesterol. However, recent findings suggest that the saturated fat and cholesterol of red meat do not provide sufficient evidence to prove a causative effect between red meat and cardiovascular disease. The authors state that a more rounded view must be taken on this topic.

The authors proceed to summarize various studies that have proven that unprocessed red meat does not have a significant association with cardiovascular risk. The consumption of unprocessed poultry (chicken, turkey) was slightly associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study reviewed in this article, conducted in 2010, found that unprocessed red meat and coronary heart disease had no significant association; however, there was a significant association between processed meat intake and coronary heart disease. The most notable differences between processed and unprocessed meats are sodium and nitrates. These preservatives are added to most deli meats and are thought to be the cause of these adverse associations between processed meats and cardiovascular disease. The authors conclude that these "low-fat" deli meats should not be advertised as "healthy" and that dietary recommendations should not just be "fat-based" but overall "nutrient" based, promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and fish, while recommending the avoidance of processed meats and other high-sodium and refined foods.

My opinion:

Okay, so basically, preservatives are bad, fresh meats are good, class dismissed. But, I feel that there is a very important concept to note and always remember when dealing with these scientific discoveries. Associations do not necessarily mean causation. What I mean by this is that one factor can be associated with another. For example, an association is that people who have a lighter in their pockets have a high association with smoking. But, the fact that these people have lighters in their pockets is not the only reason why they are smoking; it is not the cause of them smoking. The cause is most likely because of addiction, habits, etc, and not just because they happen to have a lighter in their pocket. The authors in this study note that some of the studies they reviewed did not adjust for certain "outside forces" that may have impacted their participants. Many people who eat a high amount of processed meats have higher rates of smoking, drinking, having inactive lifestyles, and have poor eating habits in general. These outside forces, or "confounding factors" can impact the findings of these studies and make the outcomes somewhat fuzzy and unclear. We don't know if the adverse effects are just from the processed meat consumption, lack of exercise, lack of whole foods, or because these people happen to smoke and drink. That is why it is always important to read scientific studies with a watchful eye.

Now, while I firmly believe that these preservatives and additives are harmful and should be avoided, I understand that real life happens. Sometimes, in our healthy eating journeys, we have to make allowances for certain convenience items. In a perfect world, we would all have time to cook our meats from fresh, grass fed, antibiotic free sources, bake our own breads from the wheat we have grown ourselves, and eat fresh (not frozen) fruits and vegetables all day long. Unfortunately, our world is not perfect, and sometimes even the most health-conscious individuals must take the easy route to get nutritious foods in our diets without having to start from square one. For me, this is where deli meats come in. When I need a quick protein source but know I won't have time to cook some meat, I usually grab a case of deli turkey from Trader Joe's. Thankfully, they have a nitrate free option, which makes me feel a little less guilty about my once in a while protein choices!! But, I also understand that these choices are not always available, and that is okay. If you can avoid these types of foods most of the time, the rare instances where you may have high sodium, nitrate-filled meats won't cause as many problems as having them consistently every day for weeks or months at a time. My recommendation would be to always try to cook fresh meat, poultry, and fish, but not fear the occasional need for some convenience "healthy" food options. If you are going to eat processed meat, I recommend getting a nitrate-free and low-sodium version whenever possible. 

I hope this article was educational and interesting for you all! Have a wonderful Thursday evening!

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.

photo 2.PNG

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!

photo 2.PNG-2

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!

photo 1.PNG-2

photo 4.PNG

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!

photo 1.PNG

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!

photo 3.PNG-2

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!

photo 4.PNG-2

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!

photo 1

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!

photo 2

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.

photo 3

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!

photo 4

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!!

photo 5

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!

photo 1-2

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!??

photo 2-2

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.

photo 1-3

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

photo 2-3

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!

photo 3-2

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! :)

photo 1

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.

photo 2

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!

photo 3

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!

photo 4

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!

photo 1-2

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!

photo 3-2

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 :)

photo 1-3

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!

photo 2-3

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!

Macadamia Catastrophe, Turkey Chili, and Daily Manna! 1/13

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had excellent, healthy, and happy weekends. Today is an exciting day because I get to share TWO recipes with you! The first one is a funky new recipe that came out of a baking mishap! I had a silly baking experience last night and I have entitled this incident, (and this recipe), the macadamia catastrophe. It all started a few days ago when my friend Kelli, over at (you guys should all follow her blog, it is fantastic!) sent me a Macadamia Nut Banana Cookie recipe ( because of my obvious obsession with this combination since getting back from Hawaii. I had all the ingredients I needed to try it out last night, except for the oats, which I decided to substitute with my protein powder instead. Obviously, I did not end up with cookies, but something more like a cake/muffin batter. I decided to roll with it, added an egg and some greek yogurt, and ended up with a macadamia nut banana flatbread cake square thing! They are flat, cakey, and crunchy but taste DELICIOUS! So I thought I might as well just share my version of the recipe! photo

Makes 16 squares, one 8x8 glass baking dish

3/4 cup macadamia nuts, unsalted

2 scoops vanilla protein powder

1 banana

1/3 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt

1 T coconut oil

1 egg

1/4 cup low sugar maple syrup

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. First things first, place the macadamia nuts in the food processor and chop them up until they are coarse.

photo 1

Mash the banana and add that to the bowl as well. Then add all the other ingredients, and it will form a batter. Spray your 8x8 dish and pour the batter into the dish. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

photo 2

Considering this recipe was a disaster in the making, I think that by adding a few of the tweaks, it turned into a great breakfast gluten-free bread option! I enjoyed two of these as my pre workout snack this morning, and they were delicious! I'm so glad I didn't just dump the batter out and tried to work with it because it turned out to be a yummy, crunchy flatbread!

Anyways, on to the rest of my day...

As I mentioned, I woke up, did my quiet time, and ate 2 of my macadamia catastrophe squares before my workout! ;)

My workout consisted of 30 minutes on the elliptical and 25 minutes on the bike, totaling 6 miles towards my 150 miles by V-day challenge. So far, I am at 70 miles! Woo! I'm feeling great even though I am not being able to run. Don't get me wrong, I really really miss running! But I think the variety of the elliptical and bike, plus all the strength training I've been doing, has been really enjoyable! I have been seeing results in my strength and am absolutely loving the benefits of weight training!

photo 1-2

After my cardio, I worked on my triceps and shoulders, then did the leg press and inner and outer thigh machines. I stretched, and then headed to whole foods to grab some coconut flour! I was determined to try the paleo tortilla recipe by Danielle Walker at Against All Grain ( and that was the only ingredient I was missing.

I HIGHLY recommend this crepe/tortilla recipe if you are looking for a gluten and grain-free tortilla that is paleo friendly! They were so easy to make and so delicious. The recipe is in the Against All Grain cookbook, as well as on her website! Check it out!

photo 2-2

I decided to make my post-workout omelet into egg tacos, so I stuffed three of these tortillas with some egg whites, kale, peppers, and pico de gallo! Delicious!

photo 4

I also loved that you can hold these tortillas and they don't fall apart! Which is such a plus when you are eating a gluten and grain-free product.

photo 3-3

After my meal, I read my book for a bit, then headed to my physical therapy appointment. It's only my second appointment and they basically just did some leg exercises with me. Which is good, since all of those exercises are at the gym and I could do them on my own time as well!

When I got back home, I had crazy energy, and decided to do my TIU workout for the day before lunch! I am doing the Love Your Body challenge at and today's workout was the Love Your Total Body 2! I love these workouts because they range from 15-20 minutes while targeting each muscle group in your body! Check it out if you want to try it (it is under the workout schedule for Monday!)

After my second workout of the day, I was finally ready for lunch! I got some ground turkey yesterday at the grocery store and wanted to make a turkey chili that could last me a few days! I threw a bunch of things into the pot and simmered the chili for about 30-40 minutes, while enjoying a quick salad as an appetizer.

photo 3-4

Here is the ingredients list and the method for my easy peasy turkey chili! (makes about 3 servings)

8-10 oz ground turkey meat

1.5 T olive oil, separated into 1 T and 1/2 T

1/2 t cajun seasoning

1-14oz can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted and low sodium is better!)

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup chopped sweet bell pepper

1/2 cup kale

1/2 t cumin

1/2 t garlic salt

Start out by heating 1 T of olive oil in a pot, then adding your turkey meat. Grind up your turkey meat with a flat edged wooden spoon until it is in itty-bitty pieces. Add the cajun seasoning while it is cooking, and cook the meat until its browned. In a separate skillet, heat up a 1/2 T of olive oil and add the kale and the chopped sweet bell pepper. Sauté these until they are tender.

photo 1-3

Once the turkey meat is cooked through, add the kale and peppers, the can of crushed tomatoes, the chicken broth, and the cumin and garlic salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then set the heat on low and let the chili simmer for 30-40 minutes.

photo 2-3

Then, bowl it up and enjoy! The easiest chili I've made yet. If you are into beans, you can obviously add some black or kidney beans to this chili as well!

photo 4-2


After lunch, I decided to finally attack my desk. My desk has been in desperate need of cleaning and reorganizing. I emptied out all of my drawers and organized all my books. I am a huge organization nerd, so it felt so good to have everything cleaned out and cleared away!

The rest of the day was pretty relaxing. I sipped on some green tea while reading, got my nails done, got my phone fixed, and had a yummy dinner! Unfortunately, my phone getting fixed prevented me from taking anymore pictures the rest of the night. So dinner will remain a mystery! :) Just kidding, we went to a yummy restaurant by my house called Pita Jungle. I had a Greek salad with a garlicky-lemon dressing, which was so light and delicious. I also added some of my mom's chicken that fell out of her wrap to my salad. They stuff those wraps with SO much chicken that she ends up not eating half of it, so I definitely took advantage of her scraps!

Well, that is all for today! I am feeling so exhausted at the moment and can't wait for bed! I hope you all had a great start to the week!

Good night! :)