Friday, April 25, 2014

What is a challenge group?

If you've seen my posts on Facebook, you've seen my posts about challenge groups. Usually an invitation to join one or about the success the people in the group are having. Today I want to explain a little bit about what they are and why they are critical to getting results.

A challenge group is really just a group of regular everyday people who have decided to work on their health and fitness with one or more Beachbody products. Usually group members order challenge packs because they can get a program and Shakeology for a discounted price and it sets them up to be successful because they are working on fitness AND nutrition together. You have to work on nutrition even if you are working out like crazy. Trust me I've TRIED to work on one or the other but the results just aren't the same!  The groups are super successful because you have an instant community of people who have similar goals as you do and they understand completely what you are going through because they are having the same experience. If I had to name one thing that was crucial to a permanent health and lifestyle change it would be a POSITIVE support system and our groups provide that. You immediately have people to celebrate your successes and help you through the rough times and then you make an effort to keep going because you are inspired by everyone else in the group who is pushing forward when the moments of doubt come. 

My take away for you today is this: FIND that positive support system to start making the changes you desire to see. If you don't have that, I can help! If not one of my groups, get a group of friends and/ or family members together who will strengthen and encourage you each day to KEEP GOING. 

I hope all of you have a beautiful weekend!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

You don't have to be perfect to be healthy

I'm just going to say it in case you are worried about the amount of candy you snuck out of your kids baskets this weekend: 

It's ok to eat whatever you want sometimes

Stop trying to be perfect. Quit saying you "blew your diet" because you ate some white potatoes or had seconds on dessert.

Life is meant to be lived and if you've followed me long enough, you know I don't "do" diets. I believe in eating healthy whole foods the majority of the time. When you do that, meals at family gatherings aren't going to be an issue. Enjoy your favorites. No, really! Stressing and feeling guilty about eating the wrong thing is what holds the pounds on, not the few snickers you picked out of your kids candy haul. It's really just as simple as this:

1. Eat well for the meals preceding your special meal.

2. Completely enjoy your meal once you are there. Eat your favorites. Savor them slowly and enjoy every bite. Go back for seconds if you're TRULY hungry. Do not feel a single shred of guilt for enjoying any of it.

3. Business as usual the next morning as soon as you wake up. Eat something high in protein and nourishing. 

This is real life so I'm keeping it real. The chances of you going through life never eating something less than ideal ever again is slim. The important thing is that those types of meals and snacks are much much less than the healthy ones. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend filled with family friends and fun!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe makes a lot of muffins, 2 dozen to be exact. I had some bananas on the verge of spoiling and when that happens there is only one thing you can do as far as I'm concerned: make banana muffins! I stuck one dozen of them in the freezer after I baked them (and cooled them) so we could have them later on and the family is munching on the other dozen this week. 

Now, while we're on the subject of banana spoilage, here's a little trick to make them last longer: 

The little piece of foil at the top does wonders! Don't freak out too much when the peels start to turn dark though. Research has shown this actually BOOSTS the nutrient content of the banana which is great news for your body!

Now, back to the muffins. My kids will eat just about anything with chocolate chips. Luckily, I found some great tasting dark chocolate chips at Sprouts with a cocoa content of over 50% which is what I used  in this recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease your muffin tins with some coconut oil or silicone cupcake/muffin molds work great too!

3/4 C Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil
1 1/2 C Coconut Sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
4 C Organic flour or Organic Spelt Flour
2 teaspoons Real Salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
6 ripe bananas
1 1/2 C Dark chocolate chips

In a mixer, cream coconut oil, coconut sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients except the chips. Also in another container mash your bananas to add at the end. With the mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture until just combined. Next, add in mashed bananas until combined. Pour in the chocolate chips and mix just enough to get them all through the batter. Spoon into muffin tins or silicone molds and bake for 20-25 mins. Makes 2 dozen muffins.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sometimes your kids will surprise you

I have two of the pickiest eaters that live in my home (not sure where that comes from....ahem). I am certainly not a food nazi when it comes to my boys, but I do try to keep healthier versions of kid food in our house to make sure they are getting some good stuff down the hatch. However, my unwillingness to battle with them sometimes means that they eat more "bad stuff" then I would prefer. Lately, it feels like it's gotten out of hand. We spent almost every night last week running though a drive thru for dinner number 2 because Bryce played in a tournament and all his games were late. 

I know there aren't many conclusive studies on food and behavior. nutrition, compared to other scientific areas is relatively new. Scientists are still learning about how the foods we eat affect us and what types of foods are the most beneficial. This is why one year you will hear that a new study has come out saying XYZ is great for your health and then the next year some other study says it's bad. My mommy observations, however, tell me that there is indeed a link. When my boys eat like crap, they are wired, grumpy and difficult. When their bodies get what they need, it's much easier on us as parents.

This weekend, I decided to do a little experiment. We didn't buy any snacks or sodas. When the kids came home they got a pint sized portion of Shakeology and then their dinner. They had berries and Greek yogurt for dessert. We have tried this in the past, but there have always been things already in the house that they try to negotiate for when I give them something better. Can I just say keeping it out of the house works? Every night they have both begged me for a shake and to try a new recipe (we got strawberry in for the first time this week) and they haven't once asked me for candy. They polished off an entire (big) tub of yogurt and have plowed through some strawberries we got last weekend in our Bountiful Basket. They aren't exactly begging me for celery with peanut butter or carrot sticks yet, but it's a start. They have been so much more agreeable this week it isn't funny. They actually ask for their own sparkling waters (with lemon and stevia extract) and think it's better than sprite. Even my littlest monster who is the pickiest of all has been on board.

We're going to keep it up. That doesn't mean that they will never have soda or less than stellar snacks again, but at least if it isn't at home, their exposure is limited and then they will get used to those things being "treats" rather than the norm. Hang in there parents of picky eaters. You can make progress! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5 minute fresh salsa

Seriously people, it doesn't get any easier than this and you will be rewarded with flavor you just can't get from a jar. All you need is a few ingredients and a blender or food processor. This recipe makes about 6 cups. We save some for eating and use the rest in our Mexican style recipes (enchiladas, tacos, over chicken etc). Here's how to do it:

6-7 small to medium tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 lime (just the juice, squeezed in)
1 onion roughly chopped (into quarters)
1 jalapeƱo (remove the seeds unless you like it hot!)
1 big handful of fresh cilantro 

Throw it all in your blender or food processor and pulse until you get the consistency you like. It will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a week or so!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Redmond Product Giveaway!

The awesome folks over at Redmond just  sent me a huge goodie BOX of products and I'm sooo excited to share them with my readers. I first found out about Redmond when I lived in Utah (they are a Utah company). We walked into a local restaurant and they had shakers of Real Salt on the tables. I was like "what in the world is this?!" I loved it and we've been using it ever since.

So, today I have TWO giveaways for you to have the chance to try some of these products. The first giveaway is the chef set which contains a shaker each of organic salt, onion salt, garlic salt and season salt. The second giveaway is for a tube of facial mud (which can actually be used for much more than facials!) and a tub of natural bath salts.

How to win:

1.) Like my Facebook page if we aren't already friends

2.) Comment below and tell me which giveaway you'd like to win

3.) I will post a link to this post on my Facebook wall. Share THAT post on your wall and tell people one thing you like about my blog

I can't wait to hear from you guys! Drawing will be held Sunday.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Real Food Kitchen Makeover Series: 5 must have appliances/tools

Cooking from scratch always ends up being cheaper and healthier than eating out or eating processed food, but it does require some good tools to make your life a little easier. It has become a sort of obsession for me, I guess. My first major appliance purchase was my Kitchenaid mixer that I found on Ebay really cheap and it just escalated from there. Now I have all sorts of things that I'll be telling you about in time, but right now I just want to stick with what I consider the essentials.

1. Mason Jars- I cannot even tell you how much I love mason jars. Beautiful and functional, there are hundreds of things you can do with them besides canning (have you been on Pinterest lately?!). We store dry goods in them, use them for yogurt and other cultures and even drink out of them. I personally believe these are one of those things you can never have too many of and you can just wash them and use over and over.

2. Quality Blender- I may ruffle some feathers here, because I have many family and friends who absolutely love their Ninja. My Ninja blender however, has sucked pretty much from day 1 and I wish I wouldn't have wasted the money on it and held out for what I really wanted which was a Vitamix. Blendtecs are high quality blenders as well. Not sure about the Blendtecs, but Vitamix has a refurbished blender program with a warranty. Save your pennies and go for it. As soon as I save all my pennies up, I will be purchasing one and participating in their affiliate program so that I can offer my readers FREE shipping. You can do so many things with a quality blender. Nut butters and milks, food prep like chopping veggies, soup, whole food juicing, smoothies, grain grinding, dough making, ice cream, sorbet..... the list goes on.

3. Dutch Oven- My fiance was skeptical when I came home with a $70 pot. I tried to explain to him that at that price, it was a STEAL!. He has since changed his tune. We cook roasts, chili, soup, and even pop popcorn in coconut oil in ours. It gets used in this house several times a week. The great thing is they are perfect for taking something directly from the stove to the oven. Mine is a Cuisinart and I stumbled across it on clearance at Marshalls one day. I'm holding out for some Le Creuset to add to my collection though. A girl can dream can't she?

4. Quality mixer- Like I said above, my Kitchenaid mixer was my very first major kitchen purchase. I found it used on Ebay for less than $200 bucks. It is a plain jane white commercial style one and while it may not be the most beautiful with the array of colors now available, it is functional and does what I need it to do. I make bread and other dough with it and have even whipped up some cream as well as made butter with it. The other neat thing about the Kitchenaid is all the attachments that you can use with it. It has the ability to grind up meat, spit out pasta and perfectly slice veggies with the right attachments.  A good quality mixer will last you a really long time.

5. Immersion blender- This little beauty will be your saving grace if you do sauces, soups or anything you need pureed. Before I had it, I had to transfer things in batches to my big blender which usually resulted in a huge mess and spatter that burned the crap out of me. No more with my immersion blender. I can blend things up right in the pot. It also came with a whipping attachment which would be nice for scrambling up some eggs.

I am sure there are some things left off here and honestly when it comes to anything "kitchen" I will tell myself it is ALL necessary. What are your most essential kitchen tools?