Monday, February 19, 2018

Vegetarian Lasagna with Sweet Potato Sauce

Happy Family Day!

We are home hanging out together..well, kind of.  Hubby is enjoying his day off in bed, and me and the girls are watching Celebrity Big Brother.  Of course, I am also cooking and baking.

Since yesterday I have made amazing fall of the bone ribs, alfredo pasta & green beans, as well as sausages and spaghetti squash, mini meatloaves, and triple chocolate peppermint cookies.  I'd say that we are prepared for the week.  Tonight's dinner will be homemade bbq pizza (topped with ribs, meatloaf, bbq sauce, sweet peppers, and lots of cheese).  The rest of the week will be the abundance of leftovers that we will have from all of these meals.  Yum, I love leftovers.

What I'd really like to tell you about though, is the vegetarian lasagna I made earlier in the week.  Wow was it ever a hit!  I even surprised myself with how well it turned out.  I don't really have a recipe for you, so I'll do my best to explain.  I had a few baked sweet potatoes in the fridge that I knew weren't going to be eaten, so I used them as the basis to my sauce.

I threw 2 baked sweet potatoes in the blender along with an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, salt & pepper, and some water to loosen things up and make a saucy consistency. 

For the lasagna filling I mixed together cottage cheese, an egg, a package of frozen spinach, a can of rinsed white kidney beans, and a block of gouda, shredded.


To assemble the lasagna, I poured some sweet potato sauce into the baking pan, put down a layer of oven-ready lasagna noodles, a layer of the cottage cheese mixture, and then repeated.  I ended with more sauce poured on top and another block of shredded gouda.  I baked it at 375 for 40 minutes, then kept it under the broiler for a few minutes.  The result was divine.  We ate the leftovers for days, with no complaints.  So damn good.


This was so easy, and so good - we will definitely be making it again!!

On to my resolutions...

1. Read a minimum of 20 mins per day - 31 out of 49 days, not great

2. Read a minimum of 1 book per month -
January - The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
February - The Buddha and The Borderline

3. Drink 80oz of water per day - 13 out of 49 days...an embarrassment!

4. Get in a minimum of 10,000 steps daily - 37 out of 49 days. Not bad, but there's room for improvement

5. Post on this blog weekly - so far so good

6. Lose the baby weight and get into the best shape of my life - This one has been going well. I'm loving the treadmill, and it helps that I watch Pretty Little Liars on Netflix while I'm on there (I admit it, I'm obsessed).

7. Have 12 no spend weeks - This isn't going so well. I'll keep trying

8. Write for 30 mins per week - I was on track, but fell behind recently. I'm at an upsetting part of the "story" and didn't want the added stress. It's been very hard dealing with Shaf's death and surrounding issues, so I'll get back to it soon, just not yet.

9. Get rid of 52 things - also from the same website - what a great idea to get rid of things that have been accumulated over the years and just collect dust
1-6. Books given to my daughter's friend, they were duplicates that I didn't need to hang on to
7. Threw out some cleaning products and knick knacks that were under the kitchen sink
8. Got rid of some baby clothes that we had been given by a friend - they were all boys clothes
(since we thought we were having a boy) - I kept some neutral items and brought the rest to Once
Upon A Child for some cash
9. Got rid of all the old tupperware (and bought a new set - does that count? I'm going to say yes
because in the past I would have kept the old & the new)
10. Dumped all of the expired vitamins and medicine that we had (some dating as far back as 2010!!) - more on that below

10. Organize/clean 52 areas (that I wouldn't normally clean during my daily/weekly routines)
1. Organized my book shelves by giving away duplicate books, grouping the self-help novels together, grouping authors together that I have huge collections of, and alphabetizing the remaining books
2. Cleaned the area underneath the kitchen sink - it was a disaster. Now everything is organized
and accounted for
3. I cleaned the top of the hallway closet and threw out winter gear that had no matches along with
other little things that had no business being there (or anywhere). A small project, but a needed
one! (see pictures below)
4. I cleaned our "medicine cabinet" - we have a section of shelving in our kitchen where we keep vitamins and medicine. Most of the bottles were expired, and it was a mess up there. See before and after pics above. And yes, I am still taking prenatal vitamins. We plan on having one more baby so might as well stay healthy for that. To be honest I think I'll continue taking them indefinitely - they are great.

11. Email or call my Grandma weekly - Doing well with this one

And I'm adding one more:

12.  Do things to get me out of my comfort zone - stay tuned

Have a great week y'all!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Flourless Protein Packed Double Chocolate Breakfast Muffins




I love chocolate. I somehow find a way to incorporate it into as many meals/foods as I can. So I'm constantly on a quest to find healthy chocolate fixes. These muffins are a winner in that department!

I used this recipe but added 3 scoops of chocolate peanut butter protein powder, and subbed the maple syrup for applesauce to eliminate some added sugar. For the chocolate chips I put exactly 5 chips on top of each muffin. Barely anything, but enough to seem decadent.

These are protein packed and fiber filled, and perfect for a healthy on-the-go breakfast or snack. The chocolate disguises them as being unhealthy, so they are a hit with the rest of the family as well. I love sneaking healthy foods into their day without them knowing.


On to my 2018 resolutions...

1. Read a minimum of 20 mins per day - 29 out of 42 days, not great

2. Read a minimum of 1 book per month -
January - The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
February - The Buddha and The Borderline

3. Drink 80oz of water per day - 12 out of 42 days...eek

4. Get in a minimum of 10,000 steps daily - 31 out of 42 days. Not bad, but there's room for improvement

5. Post on this blog weekly - so far so good

6. Lose the baby weight and get into the best shape of my life - This one has been going well. The past week or so of added stress has left me with minimal appetite so I"ll get back on track this week with eating healthy and at regular intervals.

7. Have 12 no spend weeks - This isn't going so well. I'll keep trying

8. Write for 30 mins per week - I was on track, but fell behind recently. I'm at an upsetting part of the "story" and didn't want the added stress. It's been very hard dealing with Shaf's death and surrounding issues, so I'll get back to it soon, just not yet.

9. Get rid of 52 things - also from the same website - what a great idea to get rid of things that have been accumulated over the years and just collect dust
1-6. Books given to my daughter's friend, they were duplicates that I didn't need to hang on to
7. Threw out some cleaning products and knick knacks that were under the kitchen sink
8. Got rid of some baby clothes that we had been given by a friend - they were all boys clothes
(since we thought we were having a boy) - I kept some neutral items and brought the rest to Once
Upon A Child for some cash
9. Got rid of all the old tupperware (and bought a new set - does that count? I'm going to say yes
because in the past I would have kept the old & the new)
10. Dumped all of the expired vitamins and medicine that we had (some dating as far back as 2010!!) - more on that below

10. Organize/clean 52 areas (that I wouldn't normally clean during my daily/weekly routines)
1. Organized my book shelves by giving away duplicate books, grouping the self-help novels together, grouping authors together that I have huge collections of, and alphabetizing the remaining books
2. Cleaned the area underneath the kitchen sink - it was a disaster. Now everything is organized
and accounted for
3. I cleaned the top of the hallway closet and threw out winter gear that had no matches along with
other little things that had no business being there (or anywhere). A small project, but a needed
one! (see pictures below)

Before
After
Before
After

4. I cleaned our "medicine cabinet" - we have a section of shelving in our kitchen where we keep vitamins and medicine. Most of the bottles were expired, and it was a mess up there. See before and after pics above. And yes, I am still taking prenatal vitamins. We plan on having one more baby so might as well stay healthy for that. To be honest I think I'll continue taking them indefinitely - they are great.

11. Email or call my Grandma weekly - Doing well with this one

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sad Times

Last week wasn't great.  My resolutions have not been at the top of the list of priorities.

Last week we received news that my sister-in-law had passed away.  She was 30.  It was sudden and unexpected; the autopsy showed that she had passed from a blood clot that had traveled to her lungs and caused a heart attack.  Her boyfriend found her, gone, when he came home from work.

Shaf was a beautiful person inside and out.  She was an amazing mother to her 9 year old son, a supportive sister to Chris, a loving and ever-present aunt to her nieces, and a patient and kind daughter.  Her son was her world and his life has now been changed forever, along with everyone else who had ever crossed her path.

In light of this news, I don't feel it is appropriate to comment on my resolutions and goals this week.  Instead I am taking the time to re-evaluate what is important in life.  We are all truly living on borrowed time, and each day that we get is a gift.  So cliche, but so very true.

My family has been through a lot in the last year and a half.  One day I'll share the gory details, but it hasn't been easy.  There have been numerous heart breaks, Jerry Springer worthy plots, and now two very sad deaths.  I look at my life today and still can't believe this is how things have played out.

I hear myself complain, I get angry over things that happen, I am still angry over the past mistakes that have been made (both by myself and others) and yet I question why I am wasting my time on anything negative at all?  I am not promised tomorrow, so why waste a single second on unpleasant feelings of anger, jealousy, resentment?

I set out this year to live my best life.  This can't just be another failed resolution.  I can't say I'll try better next year, next week, next month, because I may not get that opportunity.  I am positive that had Shaf been giving the choice to live even a few more days with her son, she would have done everything possible to make that happen.  She wasn't given that choice, but we are.  We have the opportunity to live our best life every day.  To be kind and supportive, to be loving and non-judgmental.  Why on earth would we choose anything else?

I know it's hard - life gets in the way.  Financial stress, relationship hurdles, parenting issues - but we can choose to handle each of these situations differently then we are now.  Perhaps as learning opportunities to constantly be bettering ourselves.  Sadly we won't be around forever.  We won't always have the time to fix our mistakes, to reconnect with loved ones, to mend relationships.  Lets do it now, while we can.  I have a lot of work to do on myself, and I know it won't be easy, it hasn't been easy thus far, but I have got to keep pushing.  I don't want to live with regrets.  I don't want to die with them either.

I'll end with a picture of Shaf and her son, when she came to visit us in the hospital when Brie was born, just 11 weeks ago.  She sat there with her family not knowing that her life would be coming to an end so soon afterwards.  She has left behind a legacy of love and understanding - that is how people will remember her.  How will people remember you?  Is there something you can do now to ensure you are remembered as you would like to be?  Think about it, and make the changes now, while you still can.




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Orange-Herb Shrimp

Last week wasn't as productive as I would have liked it to be.  I had a lot going on mentally and didn't have the motivation to hit all of my goals.  Oh well, I'll try harder this week.  As much as I'd like to maintain my resolutions throughout the year, I'm not going to beat myself up if I have an off week.  I'm human and have more going on in my life then I care to share at this point, so c'est la vie!

I did make a pretty awesome dinner last night though.  I saw this shrimp recipe on instagram and thought I'd give it a try.  I didn't have any lemon, so I used orange instead, and rather then make the cute little parchment packages, I dumped everything into a baking dish.  It came out amazing, and we will definitely be having this again.

I served my portion over Nupasta (pictured below) and the hubby had his with rice.  Our teenager said she wasn't hungry, which concerned me at first, but I just learned that she ate at Five Guys Burgers before coming home last night, so all is well (kind of. I'm not overly impressed that she eats junk at every opportunity).


I've also been loving barley lately, and have been eating it with everything.  Ground beef bowls (pictured below), breakfast cereal (with some cut up apples and almond milk added), anything really.  I love the flavor and texture - it's so versatile and so great for you.

Ground beef bowl with barley, tomatoes, onions, olives, ground beef, fried egg & sriracha


Moving on to my resolutions....

1. Read a minimum of 20 mins per day - 20 out of 29 days - time to get back on track with this

2. Read a minimum of 1 book per month -
January - The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

3. Drink 80oz of water per day - 10 out of 29 days.  No excuses here, I really need to get better

4. Get in a minimum of 10,000 steps daily - 24 out of 29 days

5. Post on this blog weekly - so far so good

6. Lose the baby weight and get into the best shape of my life - I am down a total of 21 pounds so far.  I have had a few slips, a few minor binges, but I am motivated to continue.  I refuse to be uncomfortable with my body during the warmer months, so onwards and upwards with this!

 7. Have 1 no spend week per month - This isn't going so well.  I'll keep trying but it's very difficult to plan for this with a newborn.  Diapers and formula are always needed.  Produce and milk is always wanted.  I'm hoping to get in two separate weeks for the month of February, but we will see.

8. Write for 30 mins per week - I'm still on track but haven't written yet for this week.  It's only Tuesday, I have time.

9. Get rid of 52 things - also from the same website - what a great idea to get rid of things that have been accumulated over the years and just collect dust
     1-6.  Books given to my daughter's friend, they were duplicates that I didn't need to hang on to
     7. Threw out some cleaning products and knick knacks that were under the kitchen sink
     8. Got rid of some baby clothes that we had been given by a friend - they were all boys clothes
     (since we thought we were having a boy) - I kept some neutral items and brought the rest to Once
     Upon A Child for some cash
     9. Got rid of all the old tupperware (and bought a new set - does that count?  I'm going to say yes
     because in the past I would have kept the old & the new)

10. Organize/clean 52 areas (that I wouldn't normally clean during my daily/weekly routines) 
     1. Organized my book shelves by giving away duplicate books, grouping the self-help novels               together, grouping authors together that I have huge collections of, and alphabetizing the                     remaining  books
     2. Cleaned the area underneath the kitchen sink - it was a disaster.  Now everything is organized
     and accounted for
   
11. Email or call my Grandma weekly - Doing well with this one

I'll try harder this week with some of these.  I need to organize and clean something.  I need to get rid of something.  It'll happen, I have faith :)

I'll end this post with a pic of Brie because...well, why not?  She's amazing, and I feel blessed.  I have a beautiful family and she has been such a wonderful addition to it.  I love her to pieces, we all do.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Jan 15 - 21st - Quick Update

Hello!

Not much to report this week.  I continued with the low carb plan until about mid-week, then I did a bit of winging it, and as of Monday of this week I am back to eating carbs, but carefully.

Yesterday I had some brown rice with lunch, and today I have had some fruit and plan on having some barley with dinner.  The low carb plan served it's purpose for me - it kick started my weight loss and got me motivated to continue.  I am down a total of 19.9lbs since having Brielle, and I'm feeling great.

I am loving the treadmill and staying active, and joined another stepbet this week (I won the last one that I was in, and it ended on Sunday).  If you haven't checked out stepbet, do it!  I love the fact that it holds me accountable and thanks to my competitive nature, I make sure to get my steps in daily.  It also helps that I get to win some money in the process!

The hubby and I are contemplating joining bootcamp classes together.  It would be something fun and healthy that we could do together, and you better believe I would work harder in front of him!!

Some meals from this week:

Steak salad with black olives, apples, cranberries, goat cheese, tomatoes, onions, mixed nuts, balsamic glaze - I pretty much added in anything I could find

Roasted turkey drumstick with gravy, mashed cauliflower and some strawberry jam (no cranberry sauce, use what you have!)

Vietnamese roasted chicken with steamed broccoli

Date night!  I have been dying for oysters for the longest time (can't have them while pregnant)
And a super cute pic of my two dates....love them both so much!!
                                 


That's about it for this week, so on to my resolutions -


1. Read a minimum of 20 mins per day - I've done 17 out of 22 days - not bad

2. Read a minimum of 1 book per month -
January - The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

3. Drink 80oz of water per day - 9 out of 22 days - definitely need to see some improvement on this one

4. Get in a minimum of 10,000 steps daily - 20 out of 22 days

5. Post on this blog weekly - so far so good

6. Lose the baby weight and get into the best shape of my life - working on it and feeling pretty good!

 7. Have 1 no spend week per month - epic fail for the last two weeks, and I know I can't do it this week.  I'm going to change this one to "have 52 no spend weeks" so that I can catch up and do 2 weeks next month.  Stay tuned.

8. Write for 30 mins per week - I'm on track with this one but having a hard time.  I am forcing myself to write about my life.  This is supposed to be therapeutic and the long term goal is to publish a book.  The problem is that there are some parts of my life that are extremely painful, things that I don't often talk about, and things that I am currently trying to work through, so writing about everything brings me right back to when each incident happened, and it's hard.  Harder still is trying not to take anything out on the hubby when he gets home from work, having no idea that I've been writing.  So difficult.  Hopefully this will be a beneficial resolution in the end.

9. Get rid of 52 things - also from the same website - what a great idea to get rid of things that have been accumulated over the years and just collect dust
     1-6.  Books given to my daughter's friend, they were duplicates that I didn't need to hang on to
     7. Threw out some cleaning products and knick knacks that were under the kitchen sink
     8. Got rid of some baby clothes that we had been given by a friend - they were all boys clothes
     (since we thought we were having a boy) - I kept some neutral items and brought the rest to Once
     Upon A Child for some cash

Here's the pile of clothes I started with

This is what I decided to keep

This is what I sold to Once Upon A Child
     9. Got rid of all the old tupperware (and bought a new set - does that count?  I'm going to say yes
     because in the past I would have kept the old & the new)

10. Organize/clean 52 areas (that I wouldn't normally clean during my daily/weekly routines) 
     1. Organized my book shelves by giving away duplicate books, grouping the self-help novels               together, grouping authors together that I have huge collections of, and alphabetizing the                     remaining  books
     2. Cleaned the area underneath the kitchen sink - it was a disaster.  Now everything is organized
     and accounted for
   
11. Email or call my Grandma weekly - Doing well with this one

That's it, that's all.  Enjoy your week!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Keto & Cuddles

Happy Monday!

Things have been going well with the keto diet and although the scale isn't rapidly moving, I am feeling great and definitely notice my postpartum belly shrinking.

Here's what some of my days looked like last week:




Omelettes, cream cheese pancakes, stuffed chicken, pork with a coconut curry sauce, and lots of mashed cauliflower - I love this meal plan!

If you need some motivation, recipes or meal plans, I am using this website and just love it.

I was dying for something sweet the other day so I blended up some avocados that were about to go bad, coconut milk, Splenda, cocoa powder, and cinnamon, and put the mixture in the freezer.  Voila!  Keto friendly chocolate ice cream.  It was also unbelievably delicious at room temp; the creamiest, most decadent chocolate pudding.  Needless to say it did the trick for my craving.

Brielle is growing and changing daily and I'm loving every minute of maternity leave.  I just wish I could somehow stop her from getting bigger so quickly, or at least slow things down.  She'll be an eye-rolling teenager in no time!

Speaking of eye-rolling teenagers, mine is doing quite well.  She's an amazing kid, who surprises me every day.  Her and I had a heart to heart the other day and the advice she offered me was well beyond her years.  Just a reminder for me that I may be her mom, but I can learn a lot from her.

If you ever want to check out my talented first born, you can find her you tube channel here.  She is passionate about spoken word and controversial issues; she's an amazing writer and performer and I am in awe of her daily.

And finally an update on my resolutions, which are going well (for the most part):


1. Read a minimum of 20 mins per day - so far so good

2. Read a minimum of 1 book per month -
January - The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

3. Drink 80oz of water per day - I really need to get better at this, so far I have met this goal 5 out of 14 days.  Not good!

4. Get in a minimum of 10,000 steps daily - on track with this one

5. Post on this blog weekly - so far so good

6. Lose the baby weight and get into the best shape of my life - working on it and feeling pretty good!

8 weeks postpartum (and unintentionally matching!)

 7. Have 1 no spend week per month - epic fail for last week; I'm committing to this week, Jan 14th - 20th; stay tuned

8. Write for 30 mins per week - so far so good

9. Get rid of 52 things - also from the same website - what a great idea to get rid of things that have been accumulated over the years and just collect dust
     1-6.  Books given to my daughter's friend, they were duplicates that I didn't need to hang on to
     7. Threw out some cleaning products and knick knacks that were under the kitchen sink

And two that I have added:

10. Organize/clean 52 areas (that I wouldn't normally clean during my daily/weekly routines) 
     1. Organized my book shelves by giving away duplicate books, grouping the self-help novels               together, grouping authors together that I have huge collections of, and alphabetizing the                     remaining  books
     2. Cleaned the area underneath the kitchen sink - it was a disaster.  Now everything is organized
     and accounted for

11. Email or call my Grandma weekly - My Grandma lives in Florida and I don't call or email her nearly enough.  She is incredible; at 89 years old she lives on her own, cooks, and has more of a social life than I do.  I love her dearly and she deserves  much more of my attention.  I also want to make sure she gets to watch Brielle grow, even from a distance.

That's it for today, enjoy your week!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Loving The Low Carb Living

So I'm one week and one day in to the low carb living, following this plan and I'm loving it.  My post partum belly is slowly going down, although not quite fast enough for my liking, and I'm feeling full and satisfied.

Here are what my meals look like:





Some notable recipes include this amazing spinach, sausage and feta frittata as well as this chili spaghetti squash casserole.  This cuban pot roast was also amazing.

I love that all of the recipes are easy, budget friendly, and family friendly - my family ate the same dinners as me and they thoroughly enjoyed everything.

This week's meal plan might be a little more challenging only because there is just one dinner meal that the family will enjoy.  I'll have to wing it for the rest of the week, but I should be fine since I still have leftovers from last week that I can eat, and I'll just cook for the family.

I'm down 2lbs so far, but I did cheat on my teenage daughter's birthday....ok ok not just on the actual day of her birthday but the entire birthday weekend.  I had a beer, a slice of cheesecake, some cheesecake truffles, alfredo pasta, and I shared a piece of icecream cake with her.  When I cheat, I really cheat.

Anyways I'll be much better this week since there are no upcoming events and I am extremely uncomfortable in this new mom body.  I have also been working out daily with the blogilates workouts as well as a minimum of 20 minutes on the treadmill.

I went to the doctor today for my 6 week post partum check up and there was a woman there with a baby the same age as Brielle.  She didn't have a gut like me....hmmm.  Time to get my ass in gear.

I've added a few more resolutions to my list - and I'll keep track of my progress here:

1. Read a minimum of 20 mins per day - I missed 2 days last week
2. Read a minimum of 1 book per month - we will see at the end of the month
3. Drink 80oz of water per day - I missed 5 days last week, I need to get better at this
4. Get in a minimum of 10,000 steps daily - on track with this one
5. Post on this blog weekly - so far so good - working on it
6. Lose the baby weight and get into the best shape of my life - working on it
7. Have 1 no spend week per month - this is a great one for saving money, I got the idea from this website - she has a lot of great ideas for budgeting, saving, etc - aiming for this week, from Jan 8th - 14th
8. Write for 30 mins per week - I am working on a writing project that I'm not ready to reveal.  It's been in the works for years though, so it's time to make some serious progress with it
9. Get rid of 52 things - also from the same website - what a great idea to get rid of things that have been accumulated over the years and just collect dust
1-6.  Books given to my daughter's friend, they were duplicates that I didn't need to hang on to

I think I'm off to a pretty good start with both the resolutions and the meal plan.  Have a great week everyone!