Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chicken Fajitas

I've been noticing how many food related posts are popping up on here, but considering how much cooking I'm doing these days it only seems natural that there would be a whole lot of food talk going on. I made chicken fajitas this week to go with the crock pot black beans I had left over. I really loved this meal. It was easy, really flavorful, and so delicious. I usually don't make fajitas at home, not for any particular reason, it's just not something I think of making. That won't be the case anymore. I quickly googled a recipe while I was at the grocery store and came across this Basic Chicken Fajitas Recipe on CHOW.

We had it on warmed corn tortillas with a little guac, cheese, and salsa. Seriously yummy. All 4 of us were raving about them.

The recipe link is above but here is a quick reference if you need it.

Basic Chicken Fajitas by CHOW

1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of 1 medium lime
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1/2 inch strips
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium bell pepper (any color), cored and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 medium onion, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
8 (6-inch) tortillas (corn or flour)
Guacamole, salsa, and cheese, for serving (optional)

Place the cilantro, garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a  large zip lock bag and mix to combine. Add the chicken and toss to coat with the marinade. Set the chicken aside for at least 10 minutes, or in the refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Heat a grill pan to medium. Once hot, add the chicken pieces, season with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom. Flip, season the second side with salt and pepper, and cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom and cooked through. 
Place the vegetables on the grill pan in a single layer. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly charred, about 10 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish. 
Give them a try, I think you'll really enjoy them!

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Ripped - Week 1 Done

Today I finished my first week of Jillian Michaels 30 Day Ripped. I like it a lot! The work outs are 20 minutes long and include strength, cardio and abs. Push ups, planking, lunges, weights.... good stuff. I'm really glad she explains form for each thing because I had quite a few little corrections to make! 

Now that i've heard her explain everything I like to just listen to music now and watch it. I bought it on amazon so that I didn't need to have a physical DVD , I'm pretty good at losing those things :/

I'll be moving on to week 2 tomorrow and it gets harder every week. Yikes! 

I am happy to say that I finally don't HATE working out. I used to loath it and would have an internal hissy fit each time I needed to do it. This has been such a mental thing as well as a physical thing. I'm grateful I'm seeing results, I can tell I'm stronger, things are toning up and it feels good to know Im helping my body get stronger inside! 

Ill let you know how week 2 goes!


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Hit A Wall

Well it happened and I knew it was coming. Today is day 18 of our plank challenge which means I was supposed to hold it for 2 1/2 minutes. Well at 2 minutes and 27 seconds I literally melted into my exercise mat. I have been waiting for that moment, that moment where you can't do a darn thing to hold yourself up another second, and tonight was that night for me. No more funny little planking videos because now all the grunting and screams makes it sound like I'm in labor, it's not pretty people (I'll try and work up the courage to post it)!! But guess what?? I'm still so stinkin' excited that I was able to hold it that long. 18 days ago I couldn't even fathom the idea of holding a plank for 2 1/2 minutes. Big high fives all around!

This week I came to the realization that I'm not going to be able to keep up with he pace of the 30 day challenge and my workouts. The new workout video I'm doing is kicking my booty so I'm thinking I'll start spreading out the planks to every other day to give my body a bit more rest. As much as I'd like to be a crazy, hardcore, work out woman I just can't. I really want to stick with this but I'm getting fatigued and burnt out which means I'm pushing myself a bit much. I'm going to switch to doing the planks every other day and see if that helps. It's all about balance, right?

This morning I made a yummy smoothie for breakfast. First let me clarify that when I say "yummy" I mean "healthy yummy", not "peanut butter milkshake yummy". I think healthy people often forget what yummy food really tastes like so they get overly excited about anything that is good for you and doesn't taste like dirt and earth. Anyways back to my healthy kale and almond butter smoothie that also happen to be pretty tasty too.

Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook It's All Good

1 cup packed kale (ribs removed)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tablespoon almond butter
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 Tablespoon soaked raw almonds (I didn't soak mine and it turned out fine)
1 date with pit removed

Blend all ingredients together until very smooth. I then stuck mine in the freezer for 15 minutes to make sure it was really cold. Drink up!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Homemade Salad Dressing

Brianne let me share her yummy salad dressing!!! It made me fall back in love with salads... Hooray.


-Baby spinach alone or with some mixed greens
-A ridiculous amount of red onion
-Dried Cranberries
-Small amount of candied walnuts
-Feta Cheese 


-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1 garlic clove, finely chopped
-1 tsp Dijon Mustard
-1 tsp of raw honey
-Spoonful of chopped onion
-Salt and Pepper

Shake it all together and wala! Yum Yum!


Friday, January 24, 2014

Our First Planking Video TOGETHER!

Once I started excising a bit I realized that I would need a bit more workout equipment. Up till now I've had an exercise mat and a set of 5 pound weights. I've been trying to be resourceful (and cheap) and use my 5 pound weights for everything, but I was doing some punches and hurt my muscle, so I decided it was time to get my own little set of weights. After doing Jillian Michaels first video I noticed she had a set of 3 weights in a nifty little storage tray. After a quick google search I came across this set at Walmart for only $35, weights can be quite pricy so this seemed like a really fair deal. The set comes with 3 lb, 5 lb, and 8 lb weights. I don't have goals of getting buff or extra muscular so I shouldn't need anything over 8 lbs, I really like the idea of lean muscles but we'll see how things go as time goes on!

Yay!! I finally figured out how to get longer videos on here, that only took me a week. So here you have it our 1.5 minute plank in all its glory. There are countless things that are totally embarrassing about this video but we also had so much fun doing this together. I'd also like to say a big "thank you" to One Republic for this perfect planking song… good beat, fast melody, and catchy enough to keep you distracted while you sing along. 

We move up to 2 minutes on Sunday, I'm so curious to see how this goes. How is everyone else doing on your planks?


Silly post...

Tonight Brianne and I looked through these and they cracked us up.... here's to a no brainer, little bit silly blog post!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Little Milestones

I hope this post isn't repeating too much of what Kristin said yesterday, but I couldn't let our little milestone pass without mentioning something as well. This morning not only did I complete my final HasFit 30 day challenge workout but I also held a plank for 1 1/2 minutes, which in plank-time is equivalent to a small eternity. When we started our 30 day challenge I would collapse doing a plank for 15 seconds so I'm pretty much in shock every time I reach the daily goal. I'm not sure how this will go over the next couple of weeks, or even if I'll be able to keep up with the challenge but I'll sure try my hardest. Our videos are getting too long to post so here is the last 50 (embarrassing) seconds of my planks today, all my grunting and sounds at the end really shows how dang hard it was.

Now for a recap of my experience with the HasFit 30 day challenge. In all honestly, I didn't have crazy miracle results or anything like that, just good bits of improvement in all areas. Plus it was only 30 days and this kinda stuff takes time, so on Friday I'll start on my next goal. Here are a few things I have noticed over the last month.

1. I'm stronger now. I can tell things are firming up a bit, and I can now flex my stomach which means I actually have stomach muscles that I didn't realize still existed after having 2 children. Overall I can tell my muscles are getting stronger which is what I was hoping for.

2. Lunges aren't as bad as I thought they were. The first week or 2 of the challenge I was in some serious pain. Every time I had to go to the bathroom or get in and out of bed it made me want to cry, just the thought of having to bend my legs was brutal. That wore off as I got stronger and my body got more used to them and now I don't mind them nearly as much.

3. Working out 5 days a weeks mean that I don't often look very nice or put together. I either look like I just worked out or I look like I'm waiting to work out. Sorry everyone who has had to spend time with me over the last month but who wants to blow-dry their hair or have nice makeup when they know their going to be covered in sweat later that day… Maybe it's not as bad as I'm making it sound but on many days it felt that way. 

And now the question on everyones mind… did this help with loosing weight? I understand the curiosity, especially those of us who would really like to lose weight. Plus in the past the only reason I would ever work out was to lose weight. I didn't really care how strong I was or why it was an important part of being healthy. But now my main goal isn't to lose weight but rather to get stronger. I know the weight thing will work itself out over time but in the end I've lost around 6-7 pounds, but I'd still give most of the credit to what I'm eating (and not eating). Muscles don't matter so much when your body isn't running properly, you know?

It's really exciting hearing so many people joining in and suffering through planks with us. It has definitely given me that extra bit of motivation to keep it up, so thank you for that!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

30 Day Workout Challenge COMPLETE and Planking

and insert happy dance. Can I just tell you that I have NEVER in my life completed a work out program I started? Never. Not once. This is the first time I have stuck through and finished anything like this before. Needless to say I'm stoked.

I really liked the HASfit 30 day challenge, it was a great start! I would totally recommend it to someone trying to find a good, free, under 30 minute work out at home. What next!? After looking through a lot of things I think I am going to try Jillian Michaels 30 day Ripped ( oh gee that sounds nerdy). Its about $9 and they are under 30 minute workouts and I can do them from home. Ill let you know how I like it and want to keep with that program.

What are you all doing? Have you started? Are you liking it?

Tonight I finished day 11 of the plank challenge! I was shocked when I could hold it for 20 seconds so holding it for 1 minute feels like a mini victory. I know I can last longer then 1 minute, BUT 1.5 minutes by tomorrow!? That doesn't seem likely to happen, but Ill give it a big fat try!

Why Plank?

I have read a lot of good and consistent information about adding planking into your exercise routine.

"According to the American Council on Exercise, the plank exercise is one of the top ten abdominal exercises. This exercise is a great way to flatten your stomach, strengthen your core and improve the endurance of your back and stomach muscles. By strengthening your core, you will strengthen your hips and pelvic floor. Having a strong core, stomach and back muscles will lead to improved posture and may help prevent injuries. The only equipment that you need for the plank exercise is your own body and enough floor space to lie down on."

FYI  - the image used on the 30 day plank challenge is the incorrect form.... hope this helps! 

For your enjoyment and my embarrassment, here is my first 1 minute plank!


Monday, January 20, 2014

Hiking Counts As My Workout, Right?

Today we decided we had enough of the 80 degree winter we've been having and headed up to the mountains…. (almost) 2 short hours later and we were surrounded by trees, beautiful mountains, clear skies, and crisp fresh air. I know that driving 2 hours for an afternoon in the mountains sounds crazy but it was the exact thing we all needed. We hiked around, climbed over rocks to get to a waterfall, and we even found tiny patches of ice for the girls to pretend ice skating on (because in California frozen water on the ground it downright exciting). It was pretty great and I needed the reminder that 50 degree days do exist places. 

Once we got home I reluctantly did my planks for the day, I'm up to 1 minute. Let me tell you, planks are really stepped up a notch when you've been hiking all day, that was a tough one! You can read about our planks challenge here, we're on day 10 but I'd love for you all to join in, we're just getting to the hard stuff now! Anyways, after the planks I tried to convince myself that I didn't need to do my workout because we were so active today. Under normal circumstance I totally think hiking is an excellent workout, but since I'm trying to finish off our 30 day challenge strong I sucked it up and did the 15 minute exercise. Little did I know that there would be about 3 more minutes of planks thrown in there, ouch!! That was pretty crazy and I got my buns kicked for sure. But in the end I was really happy that I did it, not because the workout was necessary today, but because I committed to doing this and I want to stick with it.

I can't believe it's already been over a month since we started, that's pretty exciting! We have another Q&A planed for this week so keep an eye out. 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Farmers Market

You know the saying "when it rains, it pours", well this week has been pouring on me. Without getting into too much personal detail (since it's nothing to do with me specifically), lets just say that I've been more then a little distracted. I haven't entered the grocery store all week which means we're scrounging for meals around here and having to eat out more then we've had to in the last month. It's just one of those weeks where all of that comes second because there are far more important things to take care of.

Today I took the morning to enjoy a few hours with my girls. We hit up the farmers market and bookstore, it was a nice distraction and just what we needed. I go to many different farmers markets in the Orange County area, depending on the day I can go is what decides where I end up going. If you're local you can check out this list for all of the different markets. If you don't live in Orange County I'm sure you can google your county and find local farmers markets too. If I had to pick just one favorite I'd say it's the Laguna Beach market on Saturday mornings. It's close to shops and cafes that you can grab a bite to eat at, and they have good venders. There is a guy that sells grass fed beef, and the olive oil people sell a really yummy unfiltered olive oil that I love to use in salad dressing recipes. Sometime soon I'd like to do a more detailed post on shopping at the farmers market, what I buy and don't buy, stuff like that.

This is what we ended up going home with along with a bottle of balsamic vinager that didn't make it into the photo. We mostly picked up some basics, along with a couple dips from the hummus guy and a bag of lemons to make lemon aid… it's supposed to be in the 80's for the next week so lemon aid seems just right.

Speaking of the hummus guy, he had me try this dip. It's a delicious combination of feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes and pesto, and it's amazing. I'm going to make grilled chicken and squash tacos on corn tortillas and use to spread on the inside of the tortillas. I'll probably try making this from scratch next time, but it's nice to have it already done and ready to go this week!

We went home and sat around the table and chatted while enjoying our new treats. It was exactly what I needed, and exactly what they needed. 

This is always a good reminder, I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!

Lamentations 3:22-23
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Vanilla Bean Coffee Creamer

I wanted to try this recipe to add into my Dandy Blend in the morning because I'm a big fan of flavored creamer!

The recipe is from Against All Grain cookbook :)


*1 cup almond milk
*1 cup coconut milk
*2 tablespoons of honey
*2 tablespoons of maple syrup
*1 vanilla bean


1. Place the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil, and then remove from heat.

2. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and bean in the milk, then cover and let steep for 30 minutes.  (Yes, I had to watch a you tube video on how to do this) 

3. Strain and bring to room temperature before covering and storing in the refrigerator for later use.

It has a good taste to it and I think it is a great alternative if you are not having dairy. But, I am not avoiding dairy because it doesn't seem to bother me and I don't have much in my diet anyways.  Being the case, I still much prefer the texture and taste of cream. So i made the best of both worlds!!

In a glass jar I simply added:

* 1 cup of half and half
* 1 tablespoon of honey
* 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
* 1 vanilla bean

I mixed them together skipping the saucepan and steeping part and holy cow was that good! I'm stoked! I have a super yummy little sidekick to add into my morning drink! 

P.s. we moved on to a 45 second plank today and I shook the whole way through! I cant imagine making it passed 1 minute! 


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Are the vanilla beans next to the fresh herbs?

I've always just made simple chicken and pasta dishes for dinner and a ton of eating out. In many ways I am starting from scratch when it comes to cooking and going to the grocery store. So, where am I at with this?

I wanted to get a cook book that I knew would compliment the way I'm trying to eat. I ended up getting a paleo cookbook called "Against all Grain". I'm not going paleo but I knew that all the recipes would  have no wheat, which I am cutting back on and would be healthy in general. Plus.... look at those darling illustrations!

I decided to first make the "Slow Cooker Pot Roast". I got my little list and headed to the store.... I wondered aimlessly in the produce aisle trying to find a "Leek". Finally I found the picture on the tag..that was the only way I knew what it was. I was embarrassed for myself on many occasions as I tried to find each ingredient. I texted Brianne and asked for help on where to locate things and had to ask an employee for a couple things too.

When I actually started preparing the meal I thanked God multiple times for my new best friend... You Tube. I had to look up how to clean and cut the Leek, how to cube carrots and a few other things. It was actually kinda fun! Cooking is so pretty and colorful! The girls were right by my side helping me when they could. We're all learning. 

It ended up turning out really well and my husband loved it. As you can see I added potatoes to the recipe that were not in the Paleo version and I served it with bread. It was a success! But boy it felt like I needed to learn quite a bit to even get this one right. I'm really excited to get the foundational cooking stuff under my belt so everything doesn't feel so unfamiliar and time consuming. 

Tonight I was feeling adventurous and wanted to make the "French Vanilla Coffee Creamer" out of the same cookbook to put in my DandyBlend in the morning. There were 5 ingredients and one was a vanilla bean. I, of course, had never bought one before and had no clue on where to look. I started looking in the fresh herb area in the refrigerated section. I must have had a clear look of "clueless" on my face because an employee came up and asked to help and directed me to the right aisle. (blush). 

I feel like such a little kid right now! But as I mentioned on Instagram it really has given me that extra dose of understanding as I home school the girls! I'm being placed in their learning shoes and I think that's great for both of us.

This is a picture from when I was at Brianne's and she taught me how to make roasted chicken! It took us so long because she had to teach me the proper way to cut things, how to dice herbs, how to work with the chicken and lots in between. Add on a whole lot of laughing and you get a glimpse of our afternoon. I was quite giddy when it was done and boy did it taste YUM after it was cooked.  

So all in all things are going well, its just going to be slow going and messy as I have so much to learn. Good thing I love being a student, laughing at myself and feel really good about why I'm learning to cook. 

Also.... Like Brianne mentioned in her last post we are doing a daily Plank challenge on top of our 5 day a week work out routine. Join us! It hurts, you shake, you get sore... doesn't it sound great? You start at 20 seconds and after 30 days are supposed to hold it for 5 minutes ( yeah right!!) Brianne and I send a video of ourselves doing the plank each day to prove we did it. It cracks us up too.... so here is mine from today. 

30 seconds of plank and embarrassing myself

Let us know if you join the challenge :)


Monday, January 13, 2014


I've noticed over the last (almost) month that finding balance is challenging when it comes to eating well and exercising. As soon as I hoped on the healthy eating bandwagon I really went for it, cleaned out my fridge, gave up caffeine (along with many other things), read up on endless subjects to help gain as much knowledge as possible, and went full force into my new lifestyle changes. And things have been great, really great actually. My anxiety that I've had since April has disappeared, my tummy feels great (unless I have something I know I shouldn't be eating), I have far more energy, I'm getting stronger (thank you HasFit!), I'm even noticing improvements in my skin...

tomatoes, burrata, basil, balsamic, olive oil, and homemade pickles on the side
So what's the problem you ask? Well, my biggest  challenge is finding balance. Being this gung-ho about everything can be kinda exhausting, but at the same time I get concerned that if I'm not as focused on it then I may backslide. If you can't tell I'm an all or nothing kinda gal. I think I will find balance over time, and like with anything, I know that the longer I do something the easier it will get. But in the meantime I have purposely been making myself splurge, just a little something here and there. I'm basically teaching myself how to not be all or nothing. And it's hard. I'd really like this to stick and it seems like the best way for that to happen is if I'm not so uptight about it… haha me NOT uptight, now that's funny! On the other hand maybe I need to be all or nothing. We'll see, I'm all about trial and error until I find the right fit.

In other news, we're coming up on our last week of our 30 day HasFit challenge and I'm starting to search for what to do next. I'd be really interested to hear if anyone has any suggestions… they can't involve going to the gym since that isn't really an option for me at this point. I've considered doing P90X3 (30 minute version since I don't always have an hour for working out), there is also a 90 day challenge on HasFit that doesn't seem as intense but it's free and free is reeeeally nice. And since the 30 day challenge doesn't seem to be torture enough, we also decided to do a 30 day plank challenge. I video myself doing it every night and send it to my sister and Kristin… besides the accountability it also gives them a good laugh I'm sure. Please join in with us, I need to know others are suffering along with me. I should also mention that I'm pretty sure the chances of me getting to 5 minutes is slim to none, right now holding it for 30 seconds its downright painful! We'll see how it goes, I'll be doing back flips if I can hold it for 5 minutes… oh wait, I don't know how to do back flips, is there a 30 day challenge for that?

Here you go, this is me doing day 3 for 30 seconds… I realized a little ways in that I was holding my hands the wrong way but there was no way I was starting over. I use oven mitts under my elbows since even with my mat this exercise still hurts my elbows for some reason, am I the only one? (This is my first time ever posting a video, I hope it works!!)

Thank you to everyone who has been so encouraging and even joined in along with us! It's nice not doing this alone.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Today was kinda hard....

I don't have much insight today... it was just hard. Nothing healthy I had at home sounded good and the last thing in the world I wanted to eat was a salad. Iv been craving salads, but not today. Not one bit. I needed to go grocery shopping so I didn't have many other options.

The thing that helped me get through that hump was thinking about all the people who would dream of such a meal. I was, in my heart, complaining that all I had to eat was salad and it was the LAST thing I wanted to eat when there are people hungry without any options at all. That might sound a bit dramatic but that's where my mind went. I tried to change my heart about it and just be thankful I even had a meal to eat and a grocery store I could go to later to restock more options. I wish my heart was filled with contentment at all times. Once again, this journey is working on me in more areas then just my bodily health.

I needed to work out today and I didn't want to AT ALL! We are finishing our 3rd week of working out and I think the initial excitement about it ALL wore off this afternoon. Inside I felt like a 3 year old stomping my feet whining "i don't want to i don't want to!!!!" I was not going to and then I got almost upset at my easily defeated spirit. Against everything I was feeling I stopped trying to talk myself into doing it and just did it. Why is it so hard? Its only 15-30 minutes of my life! Why do I fight against it so much?

I have learned that when I don't want to work out the most is when its the most satisfying when I'm done. I didn't just work out, I pulled through doing something I didn't feel like doing. Not being swayed by my bad/old habits or moment of weakness is something I am so grateful for. It doesn't always work out that way, but today it did!

Sorry if this post is a bit of a downer, just being honest about part of this messy little road to health!


Friday, January 10, 2014

Crazy Cravings

It amazes me how some days I can think about iced tea, coffee, or a slew of other things endlessly. Even after weeks of being caffeine free I will still crave it and bad. I don't think I'm craving the caffeine as much as the experience of grabbing a cup on the way to church, or getting an icy cold coffee drink before heading to our weekly homeschool group. Some days are better then others. One day I will think about it nonstop, the next day it won't even cross my mind. I guess my body has been in such a habit of having it that it's going to take quite some time to get used to my new normal. The biggest thing I have been trying to do is not giving in when I'm craving it. Instead I just tell myself that I'll have it the next day if it still sounds good… of course I usually have a bit more willpower the following day and won't have such a stung urge.

I like how much self control I'm being taught through this, but the reality is that it can be hard. I have some bad habits that I'm trying to break and some are easier to to shake then others. I haven't been in a drive thru in weeks, that was an easy one to give up since we would go mainly for convince. But other things like Starbucks stops and desserts I tend to miss a lot more… Speaking of desserts, I never really considered myself a big sweets person, but let me tell you something, as soon as I took took the option of having them off the table my desire for them was kicked up a notch! Talk about the forbidden fruit syndrome!

I really like the idea of saving my splurging for when it really counts, like the dinner I had last week with some good friends at Pizzeria Mozza… mmmm worth every single bite!

Oh great, now I want pizza, and fried cauliflower, oh and some butterscotch bunion.  Goodnight.


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Listening to my body.....

Insert foot in mouth. I see this starting to be a theme for me during this journey. There are multiple things that I am doing that Ive totally picked on someone for doing before. I like to tease, roll my eyes and goof around about stuff...especially "health nut" stuff.

see, we're goofy :)

One that stands out to me is when one of my friends had a headache or pain of some kind and when I asked "why don't you just take some Tylenol?" they said "I'm listening to my body."  I remember thinking "oh gosh here we go..... just take a pain killer and get it over with!" She explained that she didn't want to just kill the pain because she wanted to figure out what was causing the pain rather then just keep taking medicine to mask it. She's learned things about her body this way and was able to fix the source many times. It made sense but still seemed like the much harder way of doing things.

I guess I've been a bit impatient at times and not willing to take the time to "listen to my body". But, during this journey I have learned this is exactly what I need to do! Like with most things in life... the longer road and the one that needs patience and endurance is usually best and most rewarding.

Two examples of this...

1. Listing to my tummy. The fact that I've pulled back on almost all fast food has allowed me to actually feel when my body likes or doesn't like something. I can eat a certain food now and almost instantly know I'm sensitive to it and I might need to cut back on that a bit or a lot. I'm learning! I'm listening to my body and what makes it function best. Its kinda neat what you can notice when your gut isn't constantly lined with processed food!

2. Listening to my body. As I mentioned before I deal with restless leg syndrome(RLS).... it started getting very aggressive, strangely aggressive. Its not uncommon that it keeps me up for 2 hours or so when its bad but it recently was keeping me up 4-6 hours after I got in bed. That is quite frustrating and exhausting to deal with. I knew there had to be something agitating it which caused me to start adjusting my supplements. With a bit of patience and adjusting my supplement time frames I figured out that the Tyrosine was it! Once I took it in the morning and stopped taking the afternoon dose I found my RLS was much more mild! Hooray! I listened!

Learning patience is icing on this healthy journey's cake! Oh and I better be careful because Im already drinking dandelion root drink so all my "health nut" teasing might be coming to an end soon. Stink, it was kinda fun.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Coconut Oil Hair and Face Mask

Have you ever noticed how as soon as you start making little changes with how you're eating or working out it tends to lead to bigger changes? For instance just a few weeks ago I started by cutting caffeine, adding a few supplements, and then before I knew it I was buying kombucha and slathering coconut oil all over my face and hair. The jury is still out about the kombucha but I can say the coconut oil is downright amazing.

I have skin that is pretty sensitive. Every face wash I've used at a drug store has made me either really dry, cracking, and flaky or too oily. I finally broke down and bought some decent face wash and lotion at Sephora about 6 months ago, it had great reviews and ended up costing me about $60. It didn't make me oily and my skin didn't dry out, but it also didn't do anything to improve the look or feel of my skin (and for $60 it better be doing something good!). I decided to try coconut oil on my face and hair since I kept hearing such great things about it, and I already had everything at home so it didn't involve any added expenses. 

First up my hair. I put a few heaping spoonfuls of organic coconut oil into a small bowl. Then I filled a small pot with about 1 inch of water and brought it to a light simmer.

When the water was warm I put the bowl into the pot (make sure the water isn't hight enough to go inside the small bowl). The water doesn't need to be very hot at all, coconut oil melts at a very low temperature so be careful not to overheat it.

After less then a minute it was completely melted and ready to be used. The oil should NOT be hot, double check to make sure it's not too warm before putting it on your head.

Once it was melted I started putting it on my hair, working form the ends all the way up. I ended up leaving it on for over an hour. When it was time to wash it off I shampooed my hair twice, added conditioner (though you may not need it). I quickly dried my hair and I was really surprised with how soft it made my hair, even my ends that are damaged from bleaching were so much softer and smoother. Another bonus, my crazy thick hair wasn't frizzy at all.

I used the leftover coconut oil to make a face mask. I mixed it with an equal amount of organic raw honey. You'll only need about 2 tablespoons total to cover your whole face and neck.

Keep stirring until it's mixed together nicely. Once it's all mixed together put it all over your face like you would with face wash. Then let it sit for about 5-10 minutes...

After about 5 minutes it was already melting and sliding off my face. You'll know it's time to wash it off as soon as it gets to the point where it looks like someone sneezed all over your face (which you'll see below, along with my hair looking all greasy from the coconut oil on it)

Yep. It looks really disgusting but it actually worked great. It's very moisturizing without being greasy. You can make this mixture and leave it in a container, it will last for months and months. If you need something with a bit more exfoliation you can mix in some baking soda. This is all I've used over the last week and I haven't even needed to add lotion. 

I would love to hear if anyone else has some favorite natural skin/hair care tips? 


Monday, January 6, 2014

Am I dropping pounds?

...... I don't know! I have probably lost some, my clothes fit a bit better. But, I have not weighed myself since we started this journey. This just shows me how different THIS thing is for me. Whenever I would diet I would be on the scale every day or once a week. I would be trying on different clothes to see if something was a bit less "muffin top" looking... and wine big time if it didn't.

Don't get me wrong, I DO hope I drop pounds, I really really do. But, me and Brianne were both talking today and even if weight loss goes very slowly we still feel good! Having the main desire in this journey to be healthy and heal our bodies is really pulling us past that. The fact that we know we have been slowly creating better habits with our food, supplements, exercise and mentality about this is very encouraging. The fact that we know we are feeding our families better is amazing.

So, will I do a wee happy dance if I loose weight? I sure will. But I can honestly say, I'm willing to be more patient about seeing results in my weight since we are trying to make a lifestyle change here! In efforts to take care of our insides and slowly changing our habits, it will inevitably effect our weight too.

Oh and I bought a new pan this week. Me, Kristin, bought a roasting pan. That's nut! Even crazier, I'm gonna use it. Ahh!

Ummmmm..... can you tell its kinda impossible for me and Brianne to take a normal picture together? I'm going to try again this week, but I doubt it will work. She makes fun of me, I laugh, you know the deal.

- Kristin

Friday, January 3, 2014

Recipe: GP's Go-To Tomato Sauce

I will be the first to admit that I was beyond skeptical when Gwyneth Paltrow started coming out with cookbooks, I mean how can someone that skinny make a recipe that tastes good? Well, I was wrong. I have both of her cookbooks, My Father's Daughter (amazing fish tacos), and It's All Good- which is the healthier of the 2 cookbooks. I've actually made more recipes from It's All Good, I find them interesting and healthy but still yummy.

Tonight for dinner I'm making her "Go-To Tomato Sauce", which also happens to be my go-to sauce these days. I make it year round, in the summer we have it on thinly sliced zucchini, in the winter I like it on quinoa pasta with a little sausage for spice. It's a nice, basic sauce that is simple and delicious.

 Gwyneth Paltrows Go-To Tomato Sauce
2 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (I use 8-10 depending on size)
4 large fresh basil leaves
Two 28oz cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice (I use Pomi boxed tomatoes, I find them to be less acidic then canned tomatoes, you could always just add a pinch of sugar to your sauce if it's too acidic)
Salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in large sauce pan over low heat. add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add 2 of the basil leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add all the tomatoes and their juice along with the other 2 basil leaves, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils turn the heat to low, add salt and pepper, and cook for 45 minutes. I used chopped tomatoes, but if you used whole tomatoes just break them down with a wooden spoon as it cooks. 

Tonight we'll be having it over quinoa pasta but here is a picture from one of our summer meals, I could eat this every day when it's warm out! GP's tomato sauce, chopped sausage, thinly sliced and sautéed zucchini (this tool is a must!), and a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top. So good! You have to try it!

*Quick little side note- gluten free pastas can be tricky. If you're not careful it'll come out gummy, overcooked, and not very eatable. I've noticed that if I cook it in plenty of water, and I'm very careful not to overcook it (it needs to stay a bit firm), then people don't even notice the difference.

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 5 of No Caffeine......

To give you perspective, I drank anywhere from 2-10 cups of coffee a day. It was caffeinated and I poured in the "foofoo" creamer pretty heavily. I never really drink coffee to wake up, I just love the ambiance and taste. It went well with breakfast, a book, doing school...etc.

As you know, since I already posted my reasons why, I decided to move to decaf coffee.

Photos from our fam shoot with Logan Cole

I drank decaf for one day before changing my mind on that too. Ya see, I was still putting in all my foofoo creamer. I do NOT like plain "black" coffee. The sugar, let alone amount of calories I was racking in every time I drank a cup, was silly business. I did not look into the following concerns but just the tone of them added to my change. I was told multiple times that I should read about the amount of caffeine that is still in decaf and some people were concerned about the process of making coffee decaf...soaking in chemicals and needing to make sure I was choosing "clean decaf". People have opinions and concerns about everything so I would want to look into those myself eventually but the sugar thing alone made me switch since i don't like the taste of coffee unless there is a truck load of sweetness added to it.

The same day I posted about starting to drink decaf an Instagram buddy, @FiveChicksWellness, posted about Dandy Blend . I of course slightly rolled my eyes and put this in the "health nut" category in my mind. But then curiosity got the best of me and I went to their site and read about it..... which kinda, accidentally, maybe made me buy some. I got it in a couple days ago and really think its.......yum! I can drink it plain or when I feel I want a treat I add a wee bit of "Sugar in the Raw"! It tastes good and looks a lot like coffee and has a similar fullness to it. Go to their site and read about it... all the minerals in it and health benefits. So, here I am this morning drinking a wonderful cup of dandelion root herb drink....who am I and what alien took over my body? Do i still have rights to make fun of health nuts?

Here is the crazy thing... i have had NO headaches. Not one. How did I go from drinking 2-10 cups of  caffeinated coffee a day to none at all and not suffer from a headache? I have a little theory... #1. I did drink a days worth of decaf coffee, maybe there was enough caffeine still in it to have a slight weening effect? #2. I have already been taking a supplement called "Tyrosine" for 2 weeks before I quit caffeine. Come to find out, this supplement is given to help aid people going off caffeine cold turkey to help avoid headaches! #3. Dandy blend claims "There are no headaches or other withdrawal symptoms when switching from coffee to Dandy Blend". Not sure if it was one or a combination of them all, but I have been SHOCKED at how easy it has been for me to give this up.

Balance.... As of now I have decided that in my home I want to be caffeine free to help my body do its thing. I have also decided that I'm totally up for having coffee as a treat here and there while out with friends, at a guests house.... road trip, etc. This can always change, but this is where I'm at for now.

Oh and Ill keep coffee at my house too so if you're a guest, I still got you covered, but I wont have foofoo creamer on hand :)


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year! Making Resolutions

Something about it being a new year makes me get ambition and start setting lofty goals and resolutions. I do it almost every year, it's fun and gets me excited about trying something new and it will sometimes even get me motivated to do thing I've put off for so long. I remember last year my goals consisted of things like reading certain books, travel plans, working out more often… There were other resolutions on the list but I don't remember them, and sometime over the last year my list got thrown away. Oops. This year instead of making a bunch of resolution and setting goals I'm just going to work on sticking with what I have already committed to doing, I know that will be easier said then done at times.

I had to go to the grocery store today and since it was New Years day I thought I'd try a couple new things.  First up, since I'm now on a quest to find natural sugar substitutes I thought I would try this organic coconut palm sugar from Sprouts Market, I heard Five Chicks Wellness mention it on Instagram one time. I also just ordered Dandy Blend which is a coffee and tea substitute that is caffeine free, I'll try my new coconut sugar in that. When you give up pretty much every beverage except water you get really excited about stuff like dandelion herbal beverages. I'll keep you posted!

Next up is Kaboucha. Yep I said it, and if you google image this stuff it looks like the most disturbing drink ever made. I know people healthier and smarter then me that convinced me to give this a try (thank you Katie and Bonnie!). It's been around forever (the original stuff, not the fancy ones I got) and the ancient Chinese called it the "immortal health elixir". It's supposed to be great for detoxification, helps your gut and digestion, immune booster, and many other things. I'm not quiet ready to make it myself at home, for now I'll start with these handy pre-made ones from Sprouts (even though it's way  cheaper to make it).

I'd love to hear if anyone else out there drinks kombucha and if you've noticed any improvements from it. Happy New Year to all!