Sunday, September 30, 2012

Healthy Eating and New Meal Catch Up

This meal was before we started our month health challenge.  And it wasn't all that great :(  But here is my new meal #25.  I have been so behind on making new meals but even more behind on posting the ones that I have made.  I actually have done a few but just haven't put it on the blog yet. 
Simple Macaroni and Beef with Cheese
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt to taste
optional seasonings: black pepper, oregano, cumin, coriander, chopped garlic, hot smoked paprika, chilli powder—whatever you’re in the mood for (I just used black pepper, garlic and a tablespoon of fish sauce, which gives it depth)
one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, pureed in the can with a hand blender or in a blender blender
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 box macaroni
1 cup each grated cheddar and mozzarella cheeses
Sweat the onions in the oil with a three-fingered pinch of salt. Add the beef and cook it, breaking it up as you do. (Because my beef was very fatty, I cooked it separately and added it to the pot along with the tomatoes. Also an option, but uses an extra pan.) Add another three-fingered pinch of salt or two, along with any dry seasonings you want. Add the tomatoes and any fresh seasonings you may be using, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cook for an hour.
 Cook the macaroni in boiling water till it’s half done. Drain it and add it to the tomatoes. (I wanted this to stretch into two meals, so I used the whole box, but if you want your dish to be very tomatoey and beefy, you might want to add only half the macaroni). Stir it into the sauce. Taste it. Add more salt and other seasonings as needed, and cover. When it’s cooled and the pasta has absorbed the tomato juices, transfer it to a large baking dish and cover it with foil. It can sit out for several hours like this, be refrigerated for up to two days, or frozen a few weeks.
Bake it in a 400 degree oven till it’s piping hot (about 45 minutes if it’s cold to room temperature). Just before you’re ready to eat, remove the foil, cover macaroni with the cheese and broil till it looks beautiful.

This is what many of our lunches have looked like over the last 28 days.  Today was the last day of our health challenge by the way.  More about that later. 

And some healthy snacking...

We have been splurging a little on salmon.  Wow, so yummy!  Jay grills it to perfection and we have loved this meal!  And our salmon and bean salad dinner is our new meal #26.  No directions on this.  Jay just put lemon juice and lemon slices on it with some dill and then grilled it on the grill.  

I tried a new bean salad.  It was pretty good but not really my cup of tea.  Jay loved it though!
1 cup halved heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes
     1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 ears shucked corn
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 diced peeled avocados

    1. 1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
    2. 2. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes.
    3. 3. Brush corn, onion, and jalapeño evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeño 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado.

    This has probably been one of our favorite new meals and is meal #27.  So good and super healthy! 
  • 3/4 lb flank steaks or 3/4 lb london broil beef, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon sherry wine (We did not use this)

  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce (We used regular soy sauce)

  • 1/2 lb fresh string bean, cleaned

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 3 tablespoons oil

  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced

  • 1 piece fresh ginger, peeled & minced fine (We did not use fresh, just the seasoning) 

  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth, and

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

    Marinate beef in cornstarch, sherry and soy sauce about 1/2 hour (I actually skipped this step and it turned out great!)  Cook beans in boiling water two minutes.  Rinse in cold water.  Heat oil in wok.  Brown garlic and ginger.  Add beef.  Stir fry until color changes.  Add beans and sugar. (We also left out the sugar and it was still great).  Stir fry one minute.  Add dissolved corn starch mixture.  Stir fry till thickened.  Serve with rice if desired (We also didn't do the rice because we couldn't have rice for a month.)  
    We have been doing a ton of smoothies.  This one is water, ice, frozen bananas, frozen blueberries, strawberries, spinach, kale, honey, and greek yogurt.  So good!      

    Our new meal #28 is an avocado/chicken salad.  It was good but not incredible.  It is meant to go in a sandwhich, pita, or with chips but we couldn't have any of those things when I made it the first time.  I want to try it again with chips and I think it would be really good that way.  I forgot to take a picture before we started eating which is why there is a messy plate.  There were no directions other than just do it all to taste.  I did boil my chicken though for the first time and it was incredibly quick and easy and made the chicken just right for shredding. 
    chicken, cooked and shredded
    mayo, just a little
    green onion, sliced
    lime juice to taste
    salt/pepper to taste


    New meal #29 is a turkey and quinoa meatloaf.  We really liked it but did it without Worcestershire sauce because I didn't have any.  I want to try it again the right way and see if we love it even more.  Very good and very healthy!

         1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  •   1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 (20 ounce) package ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water

  • Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
    Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.
    Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.
    Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

    This blog is a bit messy!  Sometimes recipes don't copy and paste very nicely for me and I am too lazy and too busy to try to make it look perfect!  We had an amazing month at eating healthy and grain and sugar free.  We were not perfect but we were motivated, lost weight, and even took second place in both categories for our competition.  Jay lost 12 pounds and I lost 14.  We were proud of that.  We each won $20 and we each got a price as well.  It was a good month and now I just have to work at keeping it going.  It has already been way too easy to fall back into old habits.  We are adding grains back into our diet but I need to add it back in sparingly. 

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    She's 6 Months!

    My baby girl is half a year old already!  She is just sweet as can be and a cute little peanut.  She just had her six month check up.  She weighs 13 lbs 13.5 oz which puts her in the 10th percentile.  What?  She is so tiny!  I was shocked!  She was 25 inches long which puts her in the 20th percentile for height and her head was in the 35th percentile.  I love how little she is. 

    She rolls all over the place now and even scoots around on her belly.  She isn't crawling but she can still move around even without rolling.  She usually pushes herself backward and gets farther away from the toy she wants.  She gets frustrated when this happens.  She is starting to sit up but still very wobbly.  She does pretty well but sometimes gets too excited and flings her arms around and flops over.  We are not leaving her sitting unattended yet :)  


    She loves to make noises with her mouth...she blows bubbles, makes zurbert sounds, yells and hollers, screaches and squeals.  And at night...cries :)  She is still a terrible sleeper.  She cries herself to sleep almost every night and sleeps for an hour and then is up again.  Then it's the same battle the rest of the night.  Sometimes I get three hours of sleep in between her wake-ups but often it is two or less.  It is incredibly hard but we are pushing through and trying everything to get her sleeping better.  

    He first tooth popped through five days before she turned six months old (which is five days earlier than Carter's first tooth).  He second tooth just popped through today!  She was soooooooo cranky yesterday, slept terrible last night, and was super fussy this morning.  And then she went down for a nap and woke up with another tooth!  Praise Jesus!  She took terrible naps yesterday and I was just praying for that tooth to come through soon!  I could see it under the gums and new it was going to pop through any moment.  She took a 40 minute morning nap, 15 minute afternoon nap, and 30 minute late afternoon nap.  Terrible!  She already took a two hour nap this morning.  It's amazing how much better she can feel and sleep when that stinkin' tooth just comes through!   

    She LOVES her brother!  She just smiles and stares at him whenever he is near her.  It is pretty sweet!  Carter is sweet to her 85% of the time.  He can be a little rough on her at times so I have to keep my eyes on him.  He started out so careful around her but now he gets a little wild.  And even a little naughty sometimes.  He really loves her though and loves to hold her and kiss her every night before bed.  I can't wait until Madelynn is older and can actually play with him.  He will love that! 

    She is not eating solids very well.  Doctor Wilson actually suggested trying cheerioes, shredded cheese, egg yolk, etc to get her interested in eating and then adding in purees.  She loves cheerios and will eat them when I offer them to her.  She sometimes chokes and gags on them but she is getting better at swallowing.  Carter loved food the second it hit his mouth at four months old.  She is showing us how different every kid truly is!  I know she'll eat something eventually.   

    She doesn't always like being held by people she doesn't know very well.  I always feel bad when someone wants to hold her so bad and then she cries :(  It's not every time though and it's usually worse when she's tired or hungry.  She does great in the nursery at church and I am thankful for that.  

    She is wearing a size two diaper and 3/6 month clothes.  A lot of her three month clothes still fit but some are getting a little small.  Six month clothes though are still often too big.  She is in that transition phase.  Her eyes are still blue :)  Still not much hair but what hair she does have is blonde!  

    She likes sitting in her high chair to play with toys, jumping in her jump-a-roo, and rolling around on the floor.  She will also hang out in her bouncy seat for a long time in the mornings.  I love that she will sit in that still while I get Carter and me breakfast and take my shower every morning.  

    She loves people and loves to smile.  She has a sweet and fun personality just like her brother. 

    Oh my sweet Mady girl.  We love you so much.  God has blessed you with so much joy in your little heart.  You are beautiful.  You have filled our home and our hearts with so much joy and we are so thankful God blessed us with a baby girl.  We are so thankful for you!  You melt my heart every time you smile at me.  We love you baby girl and we pray every day that you will grow to know how much we love you and how much God loves you.  God has amazing plans for your life!    

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Random thoughts today...

    Today is Friday and Jay is working up in Lyons.  He worked last night too.  And this afternoon he is going backpacking with a friend of his.  He'll be home tomorrow afternoon/evening.  Two nights without him is no fun for me.  And Carter always misses him.  We survived our first night alone though.  I took the kids for a walk last night to Jamba Juice and really enjoyed the time with Carter.  I carried Madelynn in the front pack and let Carter walk.  He did so well!  He obeyed the entire time.  In those moments I think that maybe I am doing something right as a mom.  Some days I don't feel that way.  Today being one of those!  Anyway, back to our walk.  We walked there, sat outside and drank a Jamba (moothie according to Carter), grabbed a $5 salad at Subway and ate that outside, and then walked back home.  He was quite dirty from two days of playing outside and being a two year old boy so he hopped in the bath when we got home.  Madelynn was at her very end and so ready for bed but I didn't want to put her down until Carter was done in the bath.  So I held her while one handed washed Carter.  An important piece of information that I skipped though is that while changing Madelynn's diaper I hear Carter say "mama, come look."  That is never a good sign!  I finished up with Madelynn and walked into the bathroom to find that Carter had turned our bathroom into a swimming pool.  Uhg!  There was water everywhere.  So I dealt with him and his consequence (this is not the first time this has happened), cleaned up the mess and got him into his pj's with a snack on the couch.  I got Madelynn fed and in bed and sat down on the couch next to Carter while he ate his snack.  After a few minutes I notice his head starts to drop a bit and he isn't making any noise.  And then he was just out!  Snack in hand and all.  I guess no nap and a long walk in the sun will knock a two year old out at 7pm while on the couch, sitting up, eating a snack.  He was so sweet.  I laid him down in bed and he continued to sleep and slept for the next 13 hours.  Thank you Lord for an easy bedtime while I was doing it solo.  Madelynn fell asleep fast too...for an hour :(  Another uhg!  I decided that I badly needed an easy evening to myself and put her in the swing to sleep.  I just didn't want to deal with her waking up every hour and a half to three hours all night long.  She slept till three, then six, then eight.  Sadly, that's a good night for her...a really good night.  I love that little girl but man she makes me tired :)

    Speaking of sleep, I just don't know how to get Madelynn to sleep better at night.  I will say that we have tried many different things but I will also be honest and say that we haven't tried any one thing super consistently for a long period of time.  Speaking of Madelynn, it is nap time right now and she slept for about 20 minutes and is now crying.  Ugh!  The good thing though is her naps aren't really the issue.  She takes decent naps.  She just doesn't sleep at night.  She always cries for quite a while before finally falling asleep and then is almost always awake one to two hours after going to bed.  This will then continue the rest of the night.  Sometimes I feed her, sometimes I let her cry it out until she finally gets too tired and gives up.  We have tried many times skipping her third nap in the afternoon and putting her to bed between 6 and 7 (advice from friends and a book I'm reading).  This hasn't worked yet.  She is usually awake again by 9 at the latest.  We have tried cereal before bed to try and fill her up.  We have tried cry it out.  Some would say (including the book I'm reading) to let her cry it out for an hour.  I haven't gone that long yet.  I just can't quite handle hearing her cry for that long but I may be working up to it.  We have tried the space heater in her room to warm it up (which worked for Carter when he was little and having sleep issues).  We have tried Jay going in there and then of course when I get really desperate she ends up in her swing.  I know I need to try things consistently for a longer amount of time but I just get so desperate for sleep that I usually end up giving up and doing whatever it takes to get her to go back to sleep.  I just keep telling myself that someday I will get a full nights sleep.  A friend of mine who has five older kids said at MOPS yesterday that she is living proof that you can survive these years, and even thrive during these years...even without sleep.  I need to remind myself of that often.  I will not die just because I don't get great sleep.  In other news though Carter is now going to sleep beautifully!  The gate on his door and no toys in his room (for the most part) has worked miracles in our home!  I am so thankful for the peace we all now have in the evenings.  God knew I needed at least that since I have Madelynn now to deal with all night long.

    We are now on day 15 of our nutrition/health challenge.  We are doing really well and have really stuck with the program.  I'm down a few pounds and feeling better.  I am really hoping to lose a few more in the next 13 days but I know I need to go strong to make that happen.  The second, third, and fourth days were very difficult for me.  I didn't feel great and I felt so grumpy and moody.  I know that was just part of the detox.  I ate normal food during that time but no grains/carbs or sugars.  My body was so used to those as the main course for most meals.  I have felt great since then.  Today has been a bit difficult for some strange reason though.  I made Carter mac and cheese (one of those bad mommy days) for lunch today and I wanted some of it so bad!  It is amazing how much food can control a person.  MOPS was a little hard yesterday too because there is always so much great food!  I wanted all the different kinds of bread items so bad but I did not have any of it!  I had a little bit of an egg dish and some fruit.  Yay me! 

    It just hit me today that this is the first year that I am more of an actual stay at home mom.  The last two years I homeschooled 16 hours a week.  This year I am only going to be Naomi's learning coach four hours a week.  She is doing on-line school and will only spend four hours a week at my house to get a little help and support from me.  And we are doing it during nap time so I am not missing out on any time with my kids.  And I will have my mornings free this year to do mom stuff!  Play dates and grocery shopping!  Important things :)  The last two years were a bit tricky to get things done because I homeschooled all morning four days a week and then had lunch and nap time.  I felt a bit stuck at home until after nap time and then Jay is home and it's time for family time and dinner time.  I am looking forward to having more free time this year to get things done.  And more time with my kids!  I will pray daily for our budget and that it can handle me working so few hours.  I do still hope to sub a little bit but haven't been called yet.

    I guess that is enough of my ramblings for one day.  Here are some pics of how we are eating right now.  And a couple of a cute boy.  Cute girl pics coming soon :)

    Sunday, September 2, 2012

    A Lifestyle Change?

    I want my blog to be about my family and our day to day lives.  I want it to be a scrapbook for my kids to have forever of their lives.  But I also want it to be an outlet for me to share about my life.  I know that there aren't that many people who read it which makes me know that I can really share things.  I hesitate to even write about this "lifestyle change" on here because once people know about it then they will also know if I fail at it.  And trust me, I have failed at plenty of things... 

    We have been wanting  to eat healthier and be more active but have honestly been failing at it.  I love food!  I love ice cream, candy, donuts, cake, pasta, bread, pizza, burgers, eating out, and the list goes on.  Now I am not the worst eater in the world.  I don't eat sweets every day but definetely want it every day.  I love sugar!  I could eat a blizzard every day if we had the money and I had no guilty feeling every time I did eat one.  I also love going out to dinner.  If Jay takes me on a date, going out to dinner is my favorite thing to do on a date.  I just love going to a restaurant, sitting down, being taken care of, food being brought to me, and not having to clean up after.  It's probably a good thing that we don't have a lot of extra money so that keeps me from going out to eat as much as I would like to. 

    I honestly don't have a lot of self control when it comes to food.  If there is something sweet in front of me, I will eat it.  I don't very often just leave it sitting there.  This drives my husband crazy.  He has so much self control when it comes to food.  Now he's not perfect either and he wants this lifestyle change for both of us just as much as I do.  After I had Madelynn I promised myself and Jay that I would start working out and watching what I eat.  I really do want that for myself and for my family.  I want us to be an active, healthy family and I know it all starts with me.  I am the one doing the grocery shopping and cooking which means I probably have the most control over our health habits.  Honestly, it is an area that I fail in every single day.  Carter eats mac and cheese more than he really should and I mess up daily.  I really want to change these habits. 

    So we were introduced to a reset challenge to do with some friends through church to help get us motivated and reset our bodies.  We are starting tomorrow night and I am very nervous.  For the entire month of September we will be competing against some other couple friends of ours to change our habits, eat healthy, exercise, put good whole foods into our bodies, cut out all refined sugar and bad carbs, and lose weight.  I am looking forward to it and think we really can succeed at this.  However, I also know that I am fully capable of failing at this and letting myself and my family down.  My hopes and dreams for this month is that it will reset our way of thinking and get us motivated to continue with this lifestyle. 

    A few days later...
    So I started writing this blog but then never finished.  She now we are on day four of this reset challenge that I was describing previously and I can honestly say we have not cheated once and we have had four days of pure perfection!  I will explain what we are eating and how it is working in a minute but I am seriously shocked that I am still so motivated.  I don't think I have ever lasted four days of any type of healthy eating and living!  I know that is sad but it's the cold hard truth.  I suck at losing weight and eating right!  Seriously!  So here we are on day four of this adventure and we are both rocking it!  I haven't had refined sugars or carbs the entire four days (and I'm telling you people, that is a miracle for me!)  I went to my dad's last night for dinner and cake for my brothers birthday and did not touch the cake!  Seriously, a miracle.  I also had a hamburger with no bun...say what??!?!?!?!?  This one might even shock me more than that though...I had corn on the cob with no butter or salt.  And guess what?  It was delicious!  I have never had corn on the cob without butter and salt.  Seriously, who am I?  Okay, I am a bit amped up but I am so excited for what Jay and I are doing and I am just praying daily that we will continue on this path and that it is just the start of a major lifestyle change.  Now I promise you that I will be eating some of those things again!  In fact, a blizzard might just be my reward for doing this month long challenge.  However, I hope that this month will be the motivation that we both need to make these changes for life.  I don't want to just do this for a month.  What a waste of our time and a waste of delicious cake that could have been put into my belly last night!  I will eat carbs and sugars again but I hope I will do it in moderation and that I learn some great tools this month to continue eating right after our month challenge is over.  And seriously, I hope I lose some pounds! ;)

    We are using the Usana shakes and supplements and are really enjoying those.  We both drink a shake for breakfast.  They are pretty good and super healthy with all the right amounts of fiber and protein.  This morning I blending strawberries, blueberries, a banana, and spinach in with my shake and it was delicious!  We are also taking their vitamins.  The rest of our food we are doing on our own.  We are eating a ton of fruits and veggies and trying to stick to all lean protein.  Chicken, eggs, cheese, peanut butter, salmon, plain yogurt, almonds, etc.  I am learning to like things I never did before, like almonds.  We also have goals for how much water we drink and how much exercise we do each day.  For each day we have five goals where we earn one point per goal.  So far we have earned all five points for each day!  At the end of the month there will be winners.  We like to win!  :)

    This is a bit of a stretch for me to put this much info on here for others to read.  But maybe this will help me feel a little more pressure to keep up the good work.  I don't want to fail at this!  I am tired of feeling fat, having no energy, getting headaches, and feeling like I battle with food everyday.  I am hopeful that September 2012 is the beginning of the end of these battles.  We shall see :)  If you know us and love us, please pray that we will continue to fight for this!