It’s Okay

You know what I learned the past 2 weeks?  That it is okay.  It is okay if you get sick and don’t work out for nearly two weeks.  The world does not end, your jeans aren’t going to pop open because your belly got so big.  Not only is it okay, it is perfectly right.  Sometimes our bodies are telling us to slow down, take a break.  When your body tells you this, LISTEN.  It might mean taking a break from running or hardcore workouts and replacing them with mellow walks or stretch and yoga sessions.

Learning to let go of that guilt that weighs me down if I don’t work out has been and may always be a struggle for me.  One of my favorite bloggers and a personal trainer takes a break for two weeks, twice a year from working out.  That does not mean she sits on the couch the whole time but instead it means no really sweaty hardcore workouts.  Instead she goes for leisurely walks or bike rides and does not stress about working out.  At first when I heard that I thought there was no way that was a good idea, it would be too tempting to just quit forever.  However I have learned the past few weeks that I have no urge to quit but instead those weeks off rejuvenate you and heal your body enough to jump back in full force!  So that being said I just sweated my booty off running and working out and I feel good!  So I encourage you to remember that sometimes it is okay to take a break.

So while I was taking my break I found a really yummy recipe that I am excited to share.  To start, I LOVE Mexican Food.  I think Aaron and I could eat it most nights of the week.  Unfortunately most Mexican food is full of cheese, tortillas and every other guilty pleasure.  So anytime I can find a recipe that still indulges my cravings but cuts back a little bit on the calories I like to give it a try!  So I present Lightened Up Enchiladas!

Lightened Up Enchiladas

Adapted from Cooking Light

3 cups cooked chicken (cut into chunks)

2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

4.5 oz can diced green chilis

1 -2 tbsp of tapatio hot sauce (optional, only if you want heat!)

8- 8inch flour tortillas

cooking spray

1/2 to 3/4 cup  green taco sauce

1 cup  of sour cream

Toppings: sliced black olives, 1 avocado, 1 cup of salsa. Toss these together.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir first 4-5 ingredients together in a bowl.  Spoon 1/2 cup mixture down the center of tortilla, roll and place seem down on a greased 13×9 baking dish.  Spray with cooking spray.  Bake 30-35 minutes.

2.  mix taco sauce and sour cream in a bowl and spread on top of cooked enchiladas.  In a separate bowl mix avocado, olives and salsa, sprinkle on top!

I’m Alive

If you read my last post (Tuesday) I was sick but felt like I was getting better and would be back in action the next day.  If I could go back in time I would tell my Tuesday self to NOT go to work on Wednesday and take it easy therefore hopefully preventing myself from the all night sick fest that I enjoyed Wednesday night/Thursday morning.  After 5 long days of overall sickness I finally was better over the weekend.  8 pounds lighter I woke up Saturday not wanting to die, in fact I was pretty excited to be alive and I proceeded to have a fabulous weekend!  My parents came up for a visit and I finally felt hungry again and I am pretty certain I gained back all 8 pounds that were forced out of my body last week :)

We enjoyed lunch at Sierra Nevada, drinks at a local small bar and some other good times together.  I love having family come visit and even though apparently it is now summer and hot here we managed to stay somewhat cool (ice cold cocktails help with that).

How cute are my parents??  I love taking them to one of our Chico bars :)

Us before drinks and dinner!

Weekly Menu:

After last week I am so excited to get cooking again!  My poor husband had to deal with a lot of frozen burritos and Annie’s Mac n Cheese last week :)  I promise that this week I am in full cooking mode!  Here is a little taste of what we will be having:

Cooking Light Chicken Enchiladas

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Asian Noodles

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Ham Quiche

What’s cooking around your kitchen this week??

 

The Best Laid Plans…

Remember how excited I was to actually get back to cooking and posting recipes and pictures this week?  Well a stomach bug had other plans for me.  So 2 and a half days later and 5 pounds lighter, I am starting to feel better.  Yeah I lost 5 pounds being sick, not my recommendation for a quick weight loss though :)  I had to call in sick for the first time in a year on Monday and then again today :(  I actually HATE calling in sick, I hate letting my work down.  The thing with my job is that they can’t just go without one person for the day, we have to have a certain number of adults per children and so 1 person calls in sick and they have to scramble to call in subs.  So if you are a co-worker of mine and are reading this and got a lovely 7:30am wake up call today or yesterday, I am sorry.

I promise to cook at some point this week and share a new recipe for you.  It is actually an old recipe from my mom (her famous cranberry squares) that I made for the first time last weekend!  I just need one more night of good sleep then I think I should pretty much be back to my normal self tomorrow :)

In the meantime check out this article my brother sent me on 10 Food Label Lies

Scary huh?  I am not nearly as good as I should be about really understanding food labels, I hate standing and blocking the aisle as people reach around me and give me dirty looks as I scour the box.  But really, that extra time and research is worth it when it comes to our health.  I think it would be a good idea to write the things mentioned in this article down and take it grocery shopping next time you go!

Good Eats

What a beautiful weekend we had in our town!  The temps were about 70 and spent a good portion of the weekend browsing through nurseries.  No, not the baby kind, more of this kind

For the first time we stopped by a local nursery called Little Red Hen, we loved it!  It has all kinds of great trees, plants and flowers that you cannot find at your run of the mill home improvement store.  The best part of it is that it is non-profit and all of their money goes to supporting adults and children with developmental disabilities including autism, Down’s Syndrome and other cognitive disabilities.  Not only does the money support the programs but these amazing individuals help staff the nursery as well :)  If you live in or near Chico I highly recommend this place!  They also have a gift shop and kitchen shop.

Our most exciting purchase was a beautiful lilac

I cannot wait til these beautiful blooms are filling our yard with such a wonderful scent!

For the first time in awhile I am making a complete menu for the week!  It’s about time :)  I am trying to stretch out our last shopping trip and really use up things we already have so it is going to be a lot of Lauren original recipes so we shall see how that works out!  I am so excited for this week, temps are supposed to be in the 70’s and sunny all week, that means I can finally get running again in the beautiful sunshine.   So this week will look a little like this :

Chicken Sausage, broccoli and asparagus pasta in some kind of homemade sauce

Burgers (hopefully to be eaten on our patio)

Chicken and black bean casserole

Asian Noodle Bowls

Pulled Pork quesadillas

Recipes and pictures to come (well only for the ones that turn out good)

Bathing Suit Weather

How many of you are nervous that the season of the bikini, shorts and sundresses is almost upon us?  Now is a great time to shape up and tone up those problem areas so that you feel your best in these months of less clothing ;)  Sometimes while losing weight we are so focused on losing that we never know exactly where we want to end up.  If you know that you want to weigh 1o less pounds by summer it can be helpful in shredding that weight in just a month or two to have that goal.  Have that goal in mind, check in each week (remember it is safe to lose 2 pounds per week), and before you know it it’s summer and you are down 10 pounds!

Perfect Combination

The meal I made last night for dinner is one of those meals that is just a good idea.  Whoever had the genius idea of combining buffalo chicken and macaroni and cheese is a my new hero.  For some reason I feel like a bunch of drunk college kids must have created this at 2am, it has that taste to it that screams “comfort food” but don’t worry the sprinkle of Gorgonzola or blue cheese on top really classes it up :)  I chose to use gorgonzola because I love it to death and Aaron would prefer that over blue cheese.  Either works just fine, either makes it just perfect.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Blue Cheese:

recipe from Can You Stay For Dinner

served 4-5 plus leftovers

1 cup 1% milk

1tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp butter

3/4 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 cup crumbled blue or gorgonzola cheese

4 cups elbow shaped pasta

1 lb cooked and shredded or cubed chicken breasts

1/2 cup hot buffalo wing sauce (Recommend Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce)

Cook pasta

in a small saucepan stir milk and cornstarch, bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer.

Add butter and then stir until it is thick enough to coat the spoon.

Add cheddar cheese, stir until melted and silky

In a bowl add pasta and cover with cheese sauce.  Stir to combine

In a separate bowl combine chicken and hot sauce.  Use as much sauce as you prefer, coating the chicken.

 

Fold in the chicken to the pasta and gently combine (It tastes best if it is not perfectly combined but instead some bites have the kick of the sauce and some do not).

Sprinkle with blue or gorgonzola cheese and sliced green onions (these add such a great flavor)

Enjoy :)

 

 

A New Normal

Lots of life changes going on over here, that is why I have been MIA so much!  Aaron and I are adjusting to some new odd work hours with his new job so that means figuring out a new normal for us.  I am a creature of habit so changes are always slightly stressful for me. The main thing I am trying to figure out is a work out schedule that works for me.  I have given up on the idea of being a morning workout person, it is just not gonna happen at this point in my life.  Well, at least not when I have to leave for work a little after 7am each day :)  The last few weeks were crazy for me and I definitely got out of sorts when it came to working out and eating great.  I am looking forward to getting settled into a new routine and getting back on track…Anyone out there with me??

Hopefully as I get settled into this new routine my cooking will start up again!!! I hope you have not missed my weekly food pictures and recipes too much ;)  To tide you over until I cook this , here is a picture of the recipe I am most excited to try this week!

Photo and recipe from CanYouStayForDinner

Buffalo Chicken mac n’ Cheese!!!!!!!!!!!!  I am so excited to try and make this after my mom ordered it at a restaurant last month.  We will see how much this one compares to the last.

I am off to get some much needed sleep and tomorrow I hope you join me in a goal to get 1 hour of exercise! ( it doesn’t have to be 1 straight hour).

 

Food and Love

I keep a list of some of my favorite quotes, the other day I was in the need of some inspiration and I stumbled upon this quote that I copied down when I became determined to lose weight:

From a lovely blog post on canyoustayfordinner.com

“I know so many people who believe that they “just love food.” They’re sure that a large part of their weight has to do with enjoying food so much that they cannot help but to eat in abundance. Everyone loves the taste of good food. The first problem with this rationale is that it reduces the very serious problem of obesity. It ignores any deeper meaning and instead makes weight the symptom of a petty adoration of food and a lack of will power. I don’t believe this to be true. The second problem with the “I just love food too much” mentality is that it could assume that people at a healthy weight don’t necessarily enjoy food as much. I hope that’s not true. The third problem is that even if you do love food a whole heck of a lot, does it take priority in your life? Do you love food more than health? More than relationships? More than yourself? Food should be loved, but food should not be love.”

At the time I saved this quote I was searching for perspective and help in my quest to lose weight.  The words of others seemed to comfort, calm and inspire me.  I can remember at the time having such a hard time to wrap my mind around the logic that food should not be love.  Up until that point in my life I think I saw food as a form of love.  If you could not tell my family enjoys good food, we love to cook and eat together.  However that does not mean that in our lives food is love, but instead we love food but mainly it serves as a vessel to connect us and help to serve each other.  When my mom makes me a to die for dessert, that dessert is not love, she is the love and the food is prepared for us with that love. Your health is love, your relationships are love, you are love, food is delicious and extraordinary but it is not meant to be the main priority in your life.

So yes, love food, enjoy each bite and be grateful for the blessing each meal is but love yourself and your health and your importance to others more.

Taking a Minute

Ahh Saturday, I needed this day so very much.  This past week has been crazy busy and I am so glad to have a mellow day today.  Plus I missed my husband so very much because he was away for work!  He is home for now and we are enjoying a nice cozy day at home for the most part :)

Today so far has consisted of breakfast made by Aaron using the very few groceries we have:

He makes the most amazing egg creations using whatever veggies or meat we have on hand!  Yummy way to start the day :)

After grocery shopping and running errands in the rain we brought home a Costco pizza for lunch…. I love Costco pizza, it is cheap and good and perfect when you don’t want to cook.

Our lunch was enjoyed on t.v. trays while watching Lost, if you know me at all you know this is pretty much my ideal day :)  I am guessing one slice of that pizza is roughly 1 million calories, but I do not care, every bite was worth it!

Because the past week was so crazy with work I sadly did not work out as much as I would have liked to.  When you are gone from 7am to 10pm somehow running just not work out, ya know?  I am really hoping this week is a different story.  I am tempted to start doing what I know a lot of other people do and start a workout calendar.  Every Sunday they sit down and plan out their exercise for the week, what they going to do and when they are going to do it.  Then they stick to it, as if they made plans with a friend and don’t want to cancel they don’t cancel on their exercise.  I think this might be helpful for me right now but at the same time some days I go to work and I may be off at 2pm or I may be off at 5:30pm, so it can make planning a bit difficult.  I think realistically the best thing may be getting it done first thing in the morning, as much as I hate losing sleep, I know that I can wake up and do it and nothing else will come up that will change my plan.  We will see what I decide when my alarm goes off at 5:30 on Monday morning ;)

Shout Out

I just want to take a minute to say how proud I am of my amazing sister Jonna.   She ran a half marathon a couple weeks back and I am just so amazed and proud of her!!!  She is a mama to 3 beautiful children and busy as can be and still found time to do this :)  I would love love love to train and do a half marathon and she is such an inspiration to me to do so!  I love you sister!

 

 

You Know You Are Cooking for Yourself when…

Your dinner consists of

goat cheese crumbles

half an avocado

and slices of smoked salmon

There may or may not have been a few Ruffles Chips thrown on the side too ;)  There is just nothing like a simple meal when it is just you for the night.  I absolutely love to cook but some nights it is nice to just throw some random stuff on a plate and call it a meal.  I feel a bit spoiled by the “stuff” I threw on my plate.

I have to be honest, don’t look for many new recipes this week….It is just me for dinner this week so I am taking a break from cooking and will be eating A LOT of salads, sandwiches and meals like tonight where I use whatever we have on hand!

 

I don’t want to leave you with NO yummy recipe today so here is something I am dying to make!  Skinny Texas Cheese Fries…I know I know how can that even be remotely “skinny?”  I am guessing the minute you make these and then lock yourself in the closet eating them all so you don’t have to share them with your family is the minute they stop being “skinny”.

Click here for the recipe

Photo Courtesy of Skinnytaste.com

 

Plant a Garden

Last year was our first summer in our home together, and it was also the first summer I ever planted a garden.  Aaron grew up on many acres with fruit trees and a nice big garden.  I was always so excited to go over there in the summer and come home with bags and bags of peaches, tomatoes, berries, and every other fruit and veggie possible!  It is so amazing how much cheaper your grocery bill is when your produce is taken care of for the most part.  For just a few dollars you can buy seeds or plants to grow in your garden and keep your fridge stocked for months!

With spring officially here I highly encourage you to consider planting a garden. If you don’t have a lot of space or have bad soil you can always do a raised garden.  If like me you are new at this garden stuff then use resources like Sunset to help you through it. You want to make sure you wait until there is no longer a chance of frost at night.  We are just about there, by about April in California you should be safe.

Our first little plants!

Top Reasons for Planting a Garden

*  Cost.  Everything really always comes back to money doesn’t it???  With rising food costs it is so much more economical to at least be able to save money on fruits and vegetables.  We recently bought a couple packages of certified organic seeds at just about $2.50 per package, and those seeds will give us months worth of produce.

*  It is healthy!  I found last summer that with such an abundance of vegetables growing just outside my kitchen window I was completely inspired to include them in every meal.  There is nothing tastier than a freshly pulled garden tomato cut up into a salad with peppers and green beans from your yard.  A great addition was that toward the end of summer we still had so many vegetables that we were able to freeze the green beans and peppers to use them throughout the winter.  This year we are trying to use only organic veggies in our garden, it is a little pricier but better for our health.  Compared to the cost of organic food in stores the cost is not too shabby.

*  Good for our planet.  You can grow your food organically and without pesticides or herbicides, reducing the damage to our planet.  I think that growing our own food is such a simple way to live.  I am very inspired by people who use grocery stores very minimally because they have the space and time to provide for themselves.

*Great form of exercise.  You don’t know sweat until you are crouched down in the garden when it is 100 degrees outside and you are picking baskets full of green beans.  If you grow a good size garden you are guaranteed I would say at least 2 hours a week of time outside picking vegetables.

My favorite things to plant

Green Beans, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, onions, peas.  I will keep you posted what we plant this year!