Turbo-Charged Guacamole

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Ahhh . . . raise your hand if you like guacamole?  Me!  And if you have never tried guacamole like some of my family members, well . . .maybe you should try it because you might be missing out on an amazing dip!  So, yes, I love guacamole and the few times I actually take the time to make it myself, I end up having it as a meal! A couple weeks ago, I wanted to make guacamole for a little get-together but was hesitant to buy all the fresh spices, I know, I know, sometimes I don’t use all the necessary spices and end up throwing them away, so sad!  So as I was shopping in the health food section, I found this awesome little packet for guacamole dip! I gave it a try . . .

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Hooray! This totally makes the dip and I love I can make this recipe a thousand times and it always turns out!  I also thought about adding some other beneficial green foods to my dip such as broccoli and edamame!  Why not add a powerful punch to this dip with more added antioxidants and protein! So let me highlight the benefits of each ingredient.

FOOD

BENEFIT

Avocados
  • Contains soluble fiber that binds cholesterol in the intestines and eliminates it from the body. 
  • Contains both mono and polyunsaturated fats that can help to lower the risk of heart disease.
  • Rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that plays an important role in wound-healing and tissue growth.
  • Great source of potassium that can help lower blood pressure – more potassium than a banana!
Broccoli
  • Contains vitamins A and K, which helps keep  vitamin D in balance. Vitamin D promotes the body’s absorption of calcium and  promotes bone health and growth.
  • Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin—which play an important role in the health of the eye.
  • Supports skin health and repair.
Edamame
  • Contains 8 grams of fiber in every cup!
  • Contains approximately 60% of the daily value mineral, copper which is key for keeping your immune system healthy.
  • High in protein!  One cup contains almost 17 grams of protein, whoa!

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Turbo-Charged Guacamole

Ingredients :

3 avocadoes

½ cup broccoli

½ cup edamame, shelled

3 tbsp water

1 packet Simply Organic guacamole seasoning

Preparation :

Peel avocadoes and place in the food processor and set aside. Meanwhile, place broccoli and edamame with 3 tablespoons of water in a glass bowl and microwave on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly soft. Once vegetables are softened, place all ingredients including the water to the food processor. Add the seasoning packet and pulse until smooth. Place dip in the frig for at least 30 minutes and serve.

 

Well, my friends enjoy this dip and enjoy the added nutrients in this Turbo-Charged Guacamole!

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Pack a Perfect Lunch!

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Hey friends! Love this idea of packing lunches because usually I graze for the entire day and then at about 3 p.m.  I am ravenous and pull out leftovers from the frig or make a giant plate of nachos and try to get in some veggies to make myself feel better.  Here are all my ingredients and utensils.

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Here is what I included in my pre-made, read-to-go lunches: Apple Gouda Chicken Sausage (to dye for!), 18 veggie straws or 9 veggie pop chips, one-ounce hummus and a variety of vegetables.   Here are the nutritionals: 280 calories; 26 g carbohydrate; 11 g fat; 22 g protein; 754 mg sodium; 6 g sugar; 7 g fiber.  I think that is pretty darn good and what I love best is this little lunch is so satisfying!  The sausage and chips are my favorite of course – I feel like I’m eating splurging at picnic! Sometimes I heat the sausage in a small glass bowl, other times I just eat cold – good either way!

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I found these containers on Amazon, I love the division of sizes but some of the lids are not fitting very well, therefore ruining some of my lunches, grr!  I picked these because I thought they would be perfect to fit a wrap!   They are good but not great.  I also used the regular Ziploc divided containers which are okay, too.

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Get the veggie container out and load up! Woohoo!  I  know I am a dork but there is something about it that really excites me when I see a pretty, colorful vegetable container.  Makes a dietitian happy! 

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These little cupcake liners are perfect to hold the dip!  I weighed out a one-ounce serving of hummus.  Could mix it up and do a dressing, guacamole or nuts – anything small servings works great!

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The other day I was starving and the kids were begging to play on the driveway and when I am hungry I get grumpy, so I just opened up a meal and took it outside and watched the kids play!  Catastrophe dodged!  Happy mom = happy kids!   These are going to be great during the summer for picnics too! 

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Mango Mimosas!

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Hello friends!  As spring has sprung and windows are open . . . ahh . . . yes, the spring we have been waiting for, I wanted to feature a simple, yet amazing little drink I came up with awhile back.  This little drink would be perfect in celebration at a shower, the morning of a wedding or just plain ole’ anytime.  I shared this drink with friends at a bonfire the other week and it was tasty as ever! 

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Instead of the regular OJ, I was in search of finding a different juice.  I was looking in the juice aisle at the store, reading labels, looking at ingredients and was not finding what I wanted.  I was thinking something like a mango juice but all I found was a nectar with other flavors and of course some unwanted added sugar in a variety of juices – not 100% juice, bummer!   So, onto plan B . . . then I thought about the bag of frozen mango in my freezer, ah-ha!  I said to myself “Why not just puree the mango with some water and make my own nectar/juice, eh?” 

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Well, fortunately my plan worked and I will have to say this is one of my favorite drinks and I have made this many times. Generally about about a one to two ratio of water to frozen mango.   Here is the champagne that I used for the drink.

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Cheers!  I love those little fingers reaching for her own mango puree drink.  It is a good idea to make extra mango puree because the kiddos always see the yummy drink and wants some too!   May add some sparkling water for the kids drink or just the mango puree/juice is delicious by itself! 

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I will have to say frozen mango is one of my favorite treats/desserts!  And by using frozen mango it provides a refreshing cool element to the champagne. As for mangoes, they are a rock star fruit and packed with essential nutrients Mangoes are a good source of fiber, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin C and high in potassium.  Woohoo, go mango!

Mango Mimosas

Ingredients

2 cups frozen mango chunks

3 3/4 cups water

1 bottle champagne

Preparation

Place frozen mango and water in a blender and puree until smooth.  Fill a glass with mango puree about a third full and fill the rest with champagne.  Enjoy!

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Calling all coffee addicts! How To Make Your Own Coffee Shop Skinny Latte

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If you are anything like me, you go crazy about coffee!  I think coffee has become indeed a new hot trend and what is even better  is the fact there are a bunch of studies out there telling us that coffee may help prevent some disease such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and even help prevent certain cancers.  That is just awesome!  And if you are already drinking coffee, here is a study where they have shown that increasing your coffee consumption may help even more! Check out it out -  Increased coffee consumption may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.  There are so many studies out there but here is one study that intrigued me: Effects of Coffee Bean Aroma on the Rat Brain Stressed by Sleep Deprivation  found that just the smell of coffee helped reduce stress that was associated with loss of sleep. I thought it was just tired ole’ me that gets super happy when I walk into a Starbuck but now there is real research to back up my belief that coffee can instantly make people happy just by the smell!  Cool, right?! IMG_0517

So let’s begin . . . my husband and I were in search of making our coffee better each morning so he did some research and found an AeroPress.  If you don’t know what an AeroPress is – similar to a French press but in single servings more or less . . .  For less than $30 this little utensil makes the best espresso that we use to make our lattes and coffee at least two times a day.    I am sure it has saved us hundreds of dollars in order to fulfill our coffee fix.  

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I enjoy a latte at super-duper early o’clock and I get out my little basket of Aeropress items and start the morning making my favorite drink, non-fat plain latte.  Simple, indeed as I have finally kicked the sugar in my coffee, woohoo!   I found that buying really good coffee grounds helps me enjoy coffee without the cup of caramel creamer, ha! This all may look like a lot of work but it is totally worth it, really! 

I start off with measuring one cup of skim milk.  Sometimes I treat myself and buy 1% or 2% and it is even heavenlier – if that is even a word.  The little extra milk fat makes the latte even creamier, ahhh!  I put one cup in the microwave for one minute. 

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We also bought this Milk Frother from Amazon and it sure does the trick by adding more air to the milk like in a high-grade frother.  I should probably put a disclaimer out there that I am by no means a barista or expertise in the coffee area, but I have finally found a way to make exceptional lattes at home and wanted to share!

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The AeroPress it is really a simple kitchen utensil to use.  There is a paper filter that you insert on the bottom, screw in and place over your coffee cup.  Next add some delicious coffee grounds.  If you watch videos on how to use an aero press,  they usually use “funnel” for the bottom but I find it easier to place on top so I do not spill any coffee grounds because that would obviously be a sin to waste coffee grounds.

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Pour hot water (they recommend a 175 degree F is optimal, I usually just nuke in the microwave for 45 to 60 seconds) into the AeroPress.  Notice there are numbers and that correlates with the number of scoops of coffee grounds you added.  A normal cup would include two scoops, therefore you would add water till you reached the number two on the cylinder. 

 

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I of course, add three scoops of coffee grounds for a large coffee cup.

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Stir the water with paddle for about 10 seconds. 

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Insert the plunger and gently push down slowly, lasting about 20 to 30 seconds.   I like to let is sit for a bit to get all the good coffee juices.

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Pure heaven, breathe in . . .ahhh . . .breathe out . . . is your stress gone?

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Now add the frothed, hot milk . . .  mmmmm . . .  I like to put it back in the microwave for about 30 to 40 seconds in order to get the perfect temperature which seems to make it taste better to me, eh, I don’t know?

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For the last couple of months I have finally put all items in a nice little basket and this makes for much quicker clean-up and tidiness in my cupboard, love!

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There you have it folks, a simple and wonderful homemade latte that tastes just like how the pros make it . . . you will thank me, wink!  You may add a tablespoon of flavored creamer if you like and when I used to do this I found that I had to measure it out every time because if I just poured creamer in my cup I would ruin the entire latte. Just a little is all that is needed.  And maybe on a special occasion I still will use Coffee Mate Natural Bliss creamers which are simply delicious. 

I heart coffee!   Enjoy!

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The Ultimate Food & Exercise Tracker–Simple Tools for Weight Loss Success!

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Hey friends!  I am finally finishing up something that has been in mind for quite some time and that is a simple all-in-one Food & Exercise Tracker. Sometimes something a little different is just what is needed to get you back on your goals.  I know this plan is getting back to the “old-school” paper version  but this is a great way to break everything down on one page. This tracker is unique because it helps give you a little idea of what to each each meal and snack by suggesting a serving from a particular food group.

I will have to admit I am huge fan of using the My Fitness Pal app and recently been tracking my food with my fitbit but I seem to only track my food till lunch time and then I say heck with it, this is too tedious for me and honestly I really do no like counting my own calories, blah!   So here is a no-calorie-counting way to be fit, stay motivated for the week and just focus on incorporating real food at each meal and snack. Simple!  Well . . .at least I hope so, wink, wink! Let me break it down . . .

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I am really not trying to make this confusing but I have just used a single letter to suggest what food should be eaten from the designated food group.  Remember for snacks you may just pick two – Dairy + Starch or Dairy + Fruit or Dairy + Nut or Nut + Fruit and so on . . . . only fill in two lines!

Here are the symbols:  P = Protein; D = Dairy; S = Starch (or grain); F = Fruit; N = Nuts; O = Oils.  These symbols are listed on the side of the handout as well.

What foods and how much belong in each food group?         Download Serving Size Chart

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Cardio

I want to keep tracking your cardio simple.  I am a very visual type of person (as you may find many charts in my house, haha!), but I thought shading in a circle for every 10 minutes of cardio done would be a good way for you to see how much (and how much you have grown) throughout the week and weeks.  Simply shade the circle for every 10 minutes of cardio and write down what activity was done.  For example walking for 30 minutes – write walking on the activity line and shade in three circles. 

Strength Training

This is not very creative but simply focusing on just four strength training activities.  This may include  30 sit-ups; 20 (8#) curls; 20 (8#) flies; etc.  Here is a great visual for know what to call each exercise – Strength Training Guide for Women

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Or I also like to search on YouTube and find super-quick strength training videos.  Here are some of my favorite quick videos after some cardio!  3 Minute Intense Core Workout with Autumn Fitness  &  The Ultimate Upper Body Workout

Water

Water, water, water . . . I don’t tell myself this enough because I am not good at drinking lots of water, coffee maybe but not water.  Remember 75% of the time you think you are hungry you are actually just thirsty, ahhh!  Think of all the calories saved!

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Rate your day!

Love this – tell me how your day went . . . did you stick to your goals or did you fall off track?  If it was an okay day, then I would give that a rating of a 3.   If the day was pretty good except for an extra dessert than I would give it a 4 and so on . . .

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Well, good luck and I hope this helps!  Download Daily Dietitian’s Food & Exercise Tracker.

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Make It A BETTER Wrap! A simple solution for a healthy, on-the-go lunch!

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Hey friends!  It has been too long . . .busy, busy and whenever I see that Care.com commercial where the mom says to herself that she needs two (or more) of herself, some days I wish that was me, ha!  Well,  that was the perfect introduction (and solution) for today’s post!  Making a simple satisfying lunch in just seconds with whatever you have on hand in your frig.  Sometimes I even make multiple wraps at one time just so I have something to eat that is filling in a hurry.  I will say it again, a little time prepping and planning healthy foods will help keep you on track. Here is a super healthy on-the-go meal or even snack that will fill you up and keep you energized for the day! 

Here are simple examples of how to make the perfect wrap – use whatever foods you may enjoy!

in a wrap My favorite tortillas are Tumaro’s.  They are whole grain, high in fiber, high in protein, low in sodium and let’s face it they don’t taste like cardboard.  My kids, yes I said it, my kids will even gobble them up, hooray!   They also have a Deli-Style wrap that is slightly bigger and about 80 calories, actually it is huge and the family and I usually split them when I make quesadillas.  Let’s take a closer look at the sodium, very low for a tortilla. Many tortillas have at least 300 milligrams of sodium.  The first three ingredients are water, oat fiber and whole wheat flour.  I find these at my Hy-Vee HealthMarket, just ask for them if you can’t find them!

On-The-Go Wrap

Here is a yummy Greek yogurt-style dressing that I really enjoy and finally a dressing without sugar, ugh!  I get it, sugar makes everything taste better but come on . . . even in ranch dressing?  I find this in the produce section with the refrigerated dressings.

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A simple wrap that can be altered to your specific likings.  For the fresh veggies I use anything I have in the frig-  sliced carrots, mushrooms, onions and peppers.  If you want to use guacamole or hummus just spread on tortilla and top with protein and veggies. 

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Here are the simple steps to make a wrap.  I just love it because I can make it in seconds and throw it in a bag for our picnics, can’t wait for summer!  Trick is to put wax paper down first and begin the layers! Once finished, I wrap the entire wrap (with wax paper) in foil.  I usually add an boring apple to the meal and I am stuffed!

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Maybe you think this is boring because it is so simple but sometimes we make things too difficult and think healthy food 1) will not taste good 2) too hard to make – hopefully this debunks these myths.  

Later for now!  DD

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Tell Me What To Eat–Week 4

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Hey!  I can’t believe we are already in the last few days of January, 2015 is flying by way too fast! So here we have another “Tell Me What To Eat” with some fun and very simple meal and snack ideas.  I will get right to the point!

Breakfast is a simple Lara bar and you can pair it up with a glass of milk.  There are lots of great flavors of Lara bars but my favs are peanut butter, apple pie, cherry pie, blueberry and the absolute best is snicker doodle!  Oh my, this bar is so good, however, I have trouble finding it and have to request the variety at the store. By the way . . .I usually like to have a Lara bar with a cup of milk and espresso, aka, my delectable homemade latte!

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These bars have very simple ingredients including dates, nuts and seasonings, can’t beat that! 

For snack I am going with two deviled eggs and an apple.  Simply add a teaspoon of light mayo and stone ground mustard to yolks and mash.  So darn delicious!  I like to slice an apple really thin, somehow I feel like I am eating more, ha!

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Lunch is a simple (recipe) Taco Veggie Pizza. This is the best way to get in all your veggies for the day, love it!  Toast up a large Flat Out Flatbread™ and top with some Greek yogurt and taco seasoning.  By the way, have  you tried Mrs. Dash’s Taco seasoning packets?  Love these seasoning packets, check it out Mrs. Dash taco seasoning. And then of course top with your choice of chopped veggies, shredded cheese and I would suggest drizzling some taco sauce, yum!   You can have the entire pizza (flatbread), woohoo!

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And for snack make up some Salad in a Wrap.  Take giant lettuce leaves and  add your choice of dressing, shredded cheese, veggies and  I enjoy some shredded chicken.  Wrap in wax paper and these are the perfect on-the-go veggies.  I never have enough time to sit down to eat an entire salad so this is the perfect solution!

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And lastly, at the end of the day it is time to enjoy your own personal pizza!  And if you want you can sure shape it into a heart as we embark on February, check out recipe – Valentine Mini Pizzas.

For the pizzas I used 100% whole wheat dough rolls.  These balls of dough are individualized and perfect to make your own little pizzas!  Add a side of veggies and fruit and dinner is done! As the day is winding down, as always find something that won’t break the calorie budget and my suggestion is flavored soda water.  I know . . .it may take some time to like this (as I did) but I sure enjoy this product when I am itching to eat, aka, just bored.  My kids always see it, smell it and always ask with excitement, “Ooh, can I have some!”  I say sure as I watch them take a drink.  It is kind of funny to see their expressions as they think it is going to taste like pop with all the sugar and then they realize, hmm . . . not sure if I like it.  This is how I kicked my soda habit, I definitely had to “train” my taste buds into enjoying this drink and I now I see it as a treat!

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Enjoy friends!

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My Secret to Losing Weight

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Hey friends!  Are you still working hard on your New Year’s resolutions?   I hope the motivation has not dwindled but if has then I have the perfect solution for you! 

Here is  my new Magic Weight Loss Energy Drink with added motivation. Drop the weight you want to lose in just weeks.  Watch pounds disappear as eating right and exercising is effortless.  Losing weight has never and I mean never been easier!  Not only will you drop the pounds quickly but you will have the motivation and energy to carry out each day as your best day ever! Good-bye 5-Hour Energy, hello to my new weight-loss energy (keep-you-going-all-day-long) drink!  Keep up with all your kids’ demands, housework, busy work schedule, volunteering, extra-curricular activities all while maintaining the body you have always wanted, ah-ha! 

Does this sound too good to be true?  Absolutely, right?!  Well, think again . . .I may not be promoting (manufacturing) my very own Magic Weight Loss Energy Drink, but I wanted to bring your attention to something you already own . . .something that can help “turn on” your weight loss switch . . something that can keep you going and not give up.  What is the secret? 

It is your mind, something so powerful that only you have the power to control and steer in the direction of becoming the best you possible.  The mind can also be your worst enemy as you hear negative thoughts bombarding you when getting out of bed to go for a workout or when you are thinking about passing up the drive-thru for fast food.

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I always tell people, if I was only able to bottle up motivation, I would be a gazillionare!  Motivation and positive thinking are the tools for successful weight loss. This year, I would like to achieve and do more as we all would, right? Lately I have been telling myself something so simple when I am so tired or when I am in the middle of interval training on the treadmill and think “Omg, I don’t think I can run at this pace, I have to stop!” I say to myself, “You can do this!”  I immediately feel better and say “Yes, I can!”  Think positive and do more for yourself.  You deserve it.

Now looking back on my Magic Weight Loss Energy Drink claims don’t be fooled by all those weight loss products.  If your friend is trying to sell you some new weight loss supplement, kindly say no!  I’m sure your friend is getting a great kick-back off your purchase (grrrrr!).  Quit wasting your money on quick-fixes and start doing the right thing–Eat right and move more!  By the way you can achieve all those claims by wanting to make the change.  Sometimes we are not in the right mind set to change and that is okay!  We may not necessarily want to change to a healthier lifestyle at that time in our life.  If this is you, then wait a week and come back, start a program when you 100% want to do something for yourself.  Weight loss and eating right is just like doing the laundry, sometimes you want to get is done and sometimes you would rather let it sit on your floor. 

I just heard this quote to help me get out of bed and be super productive in the morning, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” – Mark Twain. 

Remember #YOUCANDOTHIS!  The mind is a powerful thing and it is in your hands to control.  Make 2015 a positive and successful year!  Now I told you can do this, so tell yourself this everyday!

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Tell Me What To Eat–Week 3

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Hey friends!  Back to the real world, right?  Holidays are gone and extreme cold weather is here along with New Year’s Resolutions. I will have to be honest and say this cold weather does not help motivate me to exercise. I would rather just snuggle up in  multiple layers with the kiddos on each side and watch movies all day, who’s with me? But as we begin a new year, I do like the feeling of starting on a fresh slate again to improve my life, whether it is marathon training (ah, not sure) or getting back on track with minimal sugar and processed foods or getting organized.  Ahh . . . all the above makes me feel like I am getting something accomplished!  As the holidays were wonderful and I spent an entire week of Christmas vacation organizing my house, not to say it is super clean but organized on every level, yay! It feel so good to get rid of stuff that I am not using and I personally feel this is essential to do when you want to get back on track eating better.  So, here I am back with another week of Tell Me What To Eat!  As always, you do not have to follow this exactly but it may give you some new ideas for meals and snacks!  I just love making these little daily menus up and hope you do as well! Let’s begin . . . image

Breakfast starts out with a super-duper simple Green Eggs & Ham.  This comes from an old post where we celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday but always a goodie!  Here is what I did  . . . I scrambled up two eggs in a coffee mug along with a handful of chopped spinach and ham.  Place in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Top with a sprinkle of cheese and put back in the microwave for an additional 15 to 20 seconds.  Viola, breakfast in a mug!  Yum!  And I really love cooking eggs in a mug because they are 10 times fluffier than in a bowl, who knew? May add a slice of buttered toast this breakfast.

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Snack is just a simple good ole’ apple, nothing fancy or may replace with any fruit – like a yummy, in-season pear!

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Lunch is again a simple grab-and-go item. Yes, a little more on the “processed-side” but sometimes simple is just what we need in our busy lifestyles!

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I adore these Bumble Bee Sensation packs!  And this sundried tomato & basil is my favorite!  Oh my!  Tuna never tasted better, seriously!  This is about the only time when I crave tuna, weird, I know! I like the fact that there is no mayo included!

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Again, not super clean ingredients but small portion, healthy omega-3 fats, excellent source of protein and let’s not forget about how super easy this is to have for lunch!  I mean, you could have this stashed away in your desk at work, love it! Snack, lunch, whenever!

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I paired it up with some fresh veggies and a small amount of dip plus some frozen edamame, actually it’s a Dora edamame pack from last time, remember?  Tell Me What To Eat – Week 2.

Snack is simply just some natural almonds (28 to be exact) and only four Brookside chocolates. Just a couple chocolates sure go a long way because they are super sweet! Enjoy that I included some chocolate!

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And for dinner, a quick and easy soup, probably one of my favorite soups I make – Easy Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup, love!

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This soup is super satisfying and the perfect comfort food this time of the year! Enjoy one and half cups along with a handful of crushed tortilla chips!  Ahh . . . . yum!  After dinner don’t mess up . .. no more snackies . . .try a non-calorie beverage or here are my favorite teas!

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Enjoy my friends and stay warm!

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Easy Crock-Pot White Chicken Chili

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Hey, I’m back already sharing with you a recipe from my “Holiday Party!”   Here is a super simple soup recipe that I will definitely be adding to my ongoing menu! This past weekend we experienced almost 60 degree weather here in Iowa and it was wonderful to have the window open refreshing our home after we all got knocked down with a horrible, horrible stomach flu. Nothing better to get some fresh air as I clean and sanitize the house!  But, sad to say, that nice weather soon diminished quickly and now we are back to wee, little teens and twenty-degree weather, brrrr!  As soup season is upon this would be a killer recipe to warm up to and prepare in a flash when entertaining!  I also thought this recipe would be perfect for January as we approach getting on-track with our eating goals!

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So the ingredients are simple with my new favorite, salsa verde!  And by the way . . . I made this soup with another brand of salsa verde and it was not as good as the with the organic HealthMarket brand.  To these ingredients I added low-sodium broth, green peppers and chopped chilies, delish!

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Easy  Crock-Pot White Chicken Chili Serves 6

Ingredients

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 lb. shredded chicken, cooked 

1 (16-oz) jar salsa verde

1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans

1 (4.5-oz) can chopped green chilies

2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped

 Preparation

Place all the ingredients in a crock-pot and place on HIGH for four hours.  Add any topping you may enjoy. Try crushed tortillas, avocado or a dollop of Greek yogurt! 

 

 

 

 

Wow! Look at that awesome nutrition profile!  Super filling will great sources of fiber and protein. Perfect for entertaining and perfect for the New Year! Enjoy!

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