Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Weekend Recap

It was such a fun weekend! I haven't had a weekend that fun in a long time and it was very much needed! Thursday I was off work for a doctors appointment and testing. Between appointments I ran to a nearby Better Health Market, a totally awesome health food store for all of my fellow Michiganders, and whipped up a salad at their salad bar.

The salad literally had everything in it. I used spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce and topped it with fennel, zucchini, banana peppers, olives, almond slivers, grilled chicken, grilled tofu, red peppers, sliced mushrooms, sautéed baby bella mushrooms, a little goat cheese (because I had never tried it before), and I know there's more but I can't remember off hand. I LOVE my veggies and it was delicious! 

The weekend kicked off with Painting With a Twist Friday night for a delayed 21st birthday celebration. All of my cousins and aunts on my dad's side of the family were there and it was so much fun!

I loved how all of our paintings were based off the same painting, but we each had our own take on it. Not to mention when we got to splatter paint it was really fun- yes I am still a child at heart! 

Saturday it poured all day, so we took the opportunity to go out to my grandparents graves to check on the flowers. I really like their cemetery because it's so peaceful. My grandparents went up north every year for vacation and one of the activities we'd always do was go looking for deer, so I thought it was really neat that there was a bunch of deer eating the grass near my grandparents headstones. We also drove by their old house and I was so happy to see how beautifully it had been renovated. 

I took charge of dinner Saturday night. My dad its the world's pickiest eater EVER and literally it takes a ton of effort to come up with a meal to please him that is healthy. I made pineapple chicken kabobs with bell peppers and marinated the chicken in my homemade pineapple sauce (I will post the recipe this week!). I also made Italian roasted potatoes and cut up strawberries. The meal got two thumbs up from my dad, but I need to get the man to expand his palate. If anyone has tips for picky eaters please please PLEASE let me know!! 

Sunday morning I was up bright and early at the gym, which I had to myself! WHOOP WHOOP! I love not having to fight for machines. I didn't do any cardio and stuck to using the weight machines and the free weights, I now have noodle arms and some very sore abs- no pain no gain though right?! Haha.

I hope you had a great weekend! Did you do anything fun? And cheers to a short work week with the 4th of July! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Meal Prep: Lean Zucchini Lasagna

Hard to believe it's already Monday, but it was such a fun weekend! A little laughter, a little wine, and awesome people are good for the soul. The weekend was packed full of fun between Painting with a Twist and my cousins bridal shower there was a lot to celebrate, but I will keep that for the weekend recap I will post later.

I am also getting CRAZY EXCITED to go to Pittsburgh! I have been setting stuff aside already because it's never too early to pack! If you have any ideas of things to do, places to eat, or anything please let me know! I can't wait to see Sam and Amanda

Enough of my rambling let's get to the meal prep! With all of the festivities this weekend I needed something simple because I didn't have hours to prep- nor do I want to spend hours prepping. I wanted to do something different, but I wanted it to be packed with protein. When I was thinking of ideas for some reason lasagna popped into my head. I don't like lasagna because it's very heavy and mounds of noodles (that I can't eat) and cheese aren't really my thing. I ditched the noodles, cheese, and swapped out the ground beef. I'm very happy with the yummy results and it has a whopping 43 grams of protein

Lean Zucchini Lasagna 
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into 3 even sections
  • 1 lb organic ground chicken
  • seasonings, to taste (I used a little bit of garlic, onion, and pepper)
  • 1/3 sweet or purple onion, diced (can add more or less to taste)
  • 1 1/3 cup organic low sodium sugar free marinara sauce
  • 1 egg white
  • 3/4 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons egg white

Create 3 tinfoil containers. I took a tupperware container and lined it with tinfoil to get the depth and shape, remove the tinfoil from the container and place it in a baking pan. You can also use 12 oz. glass jars- just make sure they're oven safe!

Slice then dice one zucchini at a time and place it in one of the tinfoil containers. Repeat with the other sections of zucchini in the other containers.

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cook spray and heat it to medium. 

Add the ground chicken and onion, breaking the chicken apart with a spatula and add desired seasonings. Stir and flip occasionally so the chicken does not burn. 

Drain any fat or water from the pan and return it to heat. 

Add the marinara sauce to pan and allow the chicken to absorb some of it for 1-2 minutes. 

Remove pan from heat and set aside. 

In a small mixing bowl mix together cottage cheese and egg white.

Take 1/3 cup of meat/meat sauce and scoop it into one of the tinfoil containers. 

Layer 2 Tablespoons of cottage cheese/egg white on top of the meat in the tinfoil containers. 

Repeat with other two containers.

Once the first layer has been made add 1/8-1/4 cup of meat sauce on top of cottage cheese layer and then layer in more cottage cheese. 

Layer any remaining meat sauce on top of last cottage cheese layer. Your last layer of lasagna should be meat sauce.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Place all tinfoil containers in a baking sheet, if not already done. 

Bake at 350F degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

Allow the containers to cool before removing and storing in the fridge for the week. I cut up strawberries and lemon drop melon to go with the lasagna.

Nutrition per serving (makes 3 servings):
MACROS: 21C/16F/43P
Nutrition Facts
Servings 3.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 361
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16 g25 %
Saturated Fat 4 g20 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 120 mg40 %
Sodium 1011 mg42 %
Potassium 457 mg13 %
Total Carbohydrate 21 g7 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g14 %
Sugars 12 g
Protein 43 g85 %
Vitamin A20 %
Vitamin C53 %
Calcium16 %
Iron19 %

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Painting With a Twist Recap

The past few months I have been so busy I have forgotten what it's like to just let loose and have fun. Friday night all of the lady cousins and aunts on my dad's side of the family went to Painting With a Twist to celebrate my 21st birthday. None of us were overly fond of the painting that night, but we wanted to get together and have some fun. The painting of the night was Danielle's Flowers. 

It was so much fun to get everyone together, laugh, share old memories, and just enjoy the moment. The class was two hours and I can honestly say it was the best two hours I've had in a very long time. We all brought wine and some treats to munch on while we painted. I am by no means a drinker, but I do enjoy a good glass of wine once in awhile. I brought one of my favorite wines SkinnyGirl California Rose- I definitely recommend it if you like a sweet/fruity wine, not to mention its only 100 calories for a serving! 

All of my beautiful lady cousins (in our sexy smocks)! When all of our family lived close by we would always get together for Christmas and there was a mandatory cousins photo. Now that everyone lives all over the country we haven't been able to get together for a cousins photo in a long time. 

The paintings didn't turn out nearly as professional looking as the artists did, but I still think they all turned out pretty good! The important thing was we all had a blast and created really awesome memories. I most definitely want to do another Painting With a Twist class! 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday Thoughts #10

1. Let's talk Quest Bars shall we? I was so excited because this week Kroger started carrying Quest Bars!! Whoop whoop!! On another Quest note I find myself wanting a mint chocolate chunk quest bar, like what is happening to me?! I don't like mint...oh Quest you've got me reaching outside my bubble! But really how can one not want one when there are those minty chunks?!

2. On a total opposite food note remember when I said I was on a green bean kick? Yeah well that has officially ended. Yesterday at lunch the green beans were mushy and I wanted to gag. Even thinking about those green beans makes my stomach turn. Back to my broccoli kick.

3. Cora got this giant stuffed bear on my birthday and she's a little obsessed with it. Watching her try to get it in her crate is hilarious let alone there's hardly any room in there for her. As I write this Cora is busy destuffing the bear. It looks like a snow storm in my living room.

4. And this is Cora begging me to play with her. She's like "Mom come on play with me and my bear." That face is hard to resist.

5. NUT BUTTER WITHDRAWALS! The struggle is real guys. My doctor told me to go a week without nut butters to see if it could be the cause of some stomach issues. How am I supposed to go a week without nut butters, especially when I have Sam's homemade nut butters staring me in the face when I open the fridge?! I may need nut butters anonymous... 

I'm off to plíe (after lifting this morning aka sore buns later!). Have a great Thursday! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Berry Birthday Salad

Summer fruits make me happy. Nothing beats perfectly ripe strawberries or fresh juicy peaches, and now my mouth is watering! Sunday was my birthday and Father's Day. We celebrated my dad in the morning and then went to church. It was surprisingly warm out so I didn't feel like having anything heavy for lunch, thus whala! A fruity summer salad was born.

I love the natural sweetness of this salad. The strawberries and blueberries were sweet and the walnuts gave the salad a bit of a crunch. It was the perfect, light summer salad I was looking for!

Berry Birthday Summer Salad
  • 2 cups spring mix lettuce
  • heaping 1/8 cup sliced avocado
  • 1/2 on the vine tomato, sliced
  • 3 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts

Throw everything in a bowl and bam you're done!! Enjoy the sweet taste of summer!! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

21st Birthday/Father's Day Weekend Recap

This past weekend went by so fast!! I feel like I blinked and everything was over, but it was a fun weekend!! I turned 21 on the 21st, but this year Father's Day fell on my birthday so I had to share the day with my dad. I didn't mind sharing, in fact it was fun to celebrate together!!

Friday I had to go to the Apple store for my laptop-and I really don't enjoy going to the Apple store. One of my friends went with me so we made an afternoon of it and wandered around the mall afterward. I was finally able to get my hands on the new mint chocolate chunk Quest Bars while I was at the mall. I don't like mint, but I wanted to try it and actually I was pleasantly surprised. 

I thought the entire bar would be minty, but it wasn't. The only mint part was the mint chunks, other than that the bar was basically a regular chocolate chunk Quest Bar. Overall I give it 6.5 or 7 out of 10- it's not my favorite Quest bar, but it isn't my least favorite either. I've been told it's like Girl Scout thin mint cookies, but I have no clue what those taste like. 

Saturday was just a really awesome day. I got to spend a lot of time outside playing with Cora since it was so beautiful out. Then after running some errands I came home to the BEST SURPRISE EVER!!! A package from Sam!! It was so incredibly thoughtful and everything in it is amazing!!

I am dying from deliciousness with Sam's homemade nut butter!! Almond butter and honey roasted peanut butter- let me tell you I eat both by the SPOONFUL and I feel no shame! Sam most definitely could have a nut butter empire on her hands because I would pay big bucks for those yummy jars! Both get so thick in the fridge it's kind of ridiculous. I may have to start rationing these babies out so they last!

Sunday, my actual birthday and Father's Day, was a fairly low key day. Of course I went to the gym in the morning and on my way out two of my favorite workers gave me a birthday card! It seriously made my day! I am improving on my dead lifts now that I can do them again, but let me tell you I was SORE later, no pain no gain though right?! Haha. After the gym I had a s'more quest bar and I felt cheated! That big hole should have been a big chunk, but nope it was a gaping hole :( 

We celebrated my dad and gave him his presents before church in the morning. I also had a giant stuffed bear set aside for Cora (because she needs a present on my birthday too) and let me tell you it was hilarious to watch her try to lug the thing around! The bear is almost as big as she is!! After dinner my parents gave me gifts, which I asked them not to do! Sadly there was no puppy, but I did get Quest protein powder which I am totally excited about since I was almost out :D

A major thank you for all the sweet birthday wishes, I really appreciate them! And another MAJOR THANK YOU to Sam for the awesome package, I can't wait to hug you in person soon!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Meal Prep: Salmon, Sweet Potato, Green Beans, and Berries

Happy first official Monday of summer!! I apologize for being MIA this weekend, but it was Father's Day and my birthday so the weekend was a little busy!! For the first time literally in YEARS it didn't pour on my birthday and it was sunny- a double dose of AMAZINGNESS!! I will post a birthday/Father's Day weekend recap because I don't want to ramble on forever. 

Anyway Sunday was rather busy but I still needed to make my lunches for work this week so I kept it basic and it's similar to last weeks lunch. I roasted salmon and sweet potatoes and cooked green beans because I am on a green bean kick! For a dose of sweetness I cut up some strawberries and threw in raspberries and blueberries. Simple meals can be just as tasty as elaborate meals! 

Oven Roasted Salmon and Sweet Potatoes
  • 3 pieces of salmon, I cut mine to approximately 5 oz 
  • Greek seasoning, to taste
  • Costco seafood seasoning, to taste (literally the BEST seafood seasoning!)
  • 3 sweet potatoes, I got sweet potatoes that were 4 ounces each

Preheat the oven to 400F. 

Line half a baking sheet with tinfoil, this will be for the salmon. Line the other half of the baking sheet, this will be for the sweet potatoes. 

Place the salmon on half the baking sheet and use preferred seasonings. 

On the other half of the baking sheet place the sweet potatoes. Remember to poke the potatoes with a knife before putting them in the oven- you do not want to clean up exploded potato!!

Place baking sheet in oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes and check the salmon. The salmon is done when it easily flakes apart and is no longer bright pink inside. 

When the salmon is done remove the tinfoil that has the salmon and place the baking sheet back in the oven to allow the potatoes to continue cooking. Baking for an additional 20-30 minutes. Sweet potatoes are done when you poke them with a fork and they are tender. 

While the salmon and sweet potatoes were cooking I started chopping the green beans. I trimmed the ends off and put them in a pot. 

Fill the pot with water, enough water to cover the beans. 

Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a medium/high heat. 

Allow the beans to simmer for 10-12 minutes. The green beans are done when they are tender. 

Drain the water and season with seasonings of choice. I used a bit of garlic, Greek seasoning, and lemon peel from spice islands. 

I put 1 cup of green beans in each container, along with a salmon fillet, and a 4 ounce sweet potato. 

I'm not going to post macros because the macros will vary depending on how large the salmon fillets and the sweet potatoes are. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lessons From Lupus

Lupus is a crazy disease. There are so many complicated parts and everything is interrelated that it can be exhausting just to think about. I try really hard to not complain about my lupus because there are far worse diseases and I know there are people who have much more severe lupus cases than I do. That being said if I could magically cure myself I totally would because lupus does limit my life in a lot of ways. On the flip side, I've learned a lot of valuable lessons from lupus too. One of the biggest lessons I've learned is who my true friends are. 

Lupus can be a very lonely disease, especially if you don't know anyone who has it. A lot of people have a really hard time understanding that just because you don't look sick doesn't mean that you aren't sick. People have a hard time understanding that I can't go out and be out until 1AM because I pay for it for weeks. People don't understand the constant tiredness you feel or the daily aches and pains. I generally do not tell anyone how I'm feeling unless they ask- even then if I don't know them very well I'll probably say "ok."  For some people my lupus has been too much to deal with so they couldn't be my friend anymore (true story). 

I had several friends just vanish from my life when I started going through everything last summer. They simply wouldn't respond to my texts or calls and a few of them later told me they didn't want to "catch" lupus, which isn't even possible. I spent many days crying about how I missed my friends, but when I really thought about it those people weren't my friends anyway. 

Friends are people who have your back no matter what. Friends are the people who find out you're in the hospital and drop everything to rush up there. Friends are people who try to make gluten free foods and bring them to you. Friends are the ones you can call and cry to because you're having a really bad day. Friends are the ones who can sit next to you in silence but their mere presence is enough. Friends are the ones who call and text to see how your doctor appointment went or to tell you they're praying for you. Friends are the ones who don't let you say you're "ok" when they know you're in pain. Friends are supportive. Friends are loving. Friends are people who fill your life with joy.

I could literally continue for a very long time. At the end of the day I learned that I would rather have a few really good friends who are always there for me and vice versa than a lot of "friends." One of the days that literally made my heart overflow with joy was Lupus Awareness Day. I asked people I knew to wear purple to support lupus research and the response I got was overwhelming- it literally brought tears to my eyes to see everyone posting pictures of them wearing purple. Those are (some of) the people who I love to the moon and back. Those people are the people who I would do anything for because I know they would do anything for me. 

If I could change my diagnosis I absolutely would (no one wants to live with any disease), but at the end of the day it's strengthened the relationships I have with so many people. Lupus has brought people into my life who are living with the same disease and they have become like family to me. It's never fun to learn the hard way who your friends are, but the ones who stick around through the good and the bad are friends who are worth having <3

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thursday Thoughts #9

1. THIS.MADE.MY.DAY! I literally laughed so hard when I saw this!! It's just too funny not to laugh!! This is how I felt today after going to the gym lifting weights (the gym is back open!!!!!!) and doing cardio and then going to a plíe class- holy moly QUADS ON FIRE!!

2. If you want to make a treat that everyone is guaranteed to befriend you to get one these bad boys would be them- s'mores brownies. S'mores are a fairly common summer treat and one of my coworkers loves s'mores, so I brought in s'mores brownies to the office-they did not last long! One of my coworkers dropped a not so subtle hint that the triple chocolate cookies were her favorite...hehe I love my coworkers! Let me know if you want the recipes for the brownies!

3. How in the world do people take full body shots of their outfits?! #Strugglelife but really maybe I'm dumb and I know I suck at selfies cause I loathe them but maybe I need a for dummies book. Anyway I loved this outfit combo for work- a lacy white tank (found on amazon), a pink/salmon colored pencil skirt (found at H&M), and a light blue flower necklace (found at Forever 21 last year). It was light weight and kept me cool, but still looked professional. I'm semi enjoying dressing girly for work, which is totally weird for me!

4. Totally one of my favorite lunches so far for work! I haven't had green beans and mushrooms in forever and holy moly they were so good- and the strawberries are to die for now! I LOVE summer fruit! I'm now craving green beans, the struggles of a veggie lover haha!

5. Last Friday I had the pleasure of going to secretary of state to get a new drivers license because I'm finally turning 21 (on Sunday!!!). I got there a maybe 20 minutes after they opened and there was already 30 people ahead of me. I'm no dummy though and I was prepared. I whipped out a Quest Bar and proceeded to happily snack and look through my instagram feed. Let me tell you you get some mighty strange looks from people when you start snacking there- tough crowd!

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday, hang in there it's almost the weekend (and my birthday)!!! 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Roasted Red Potatoes, Mushrooms, and Green Beans

Rain, rain go away, come again another day...or in three months. I feel like a broken record, but there is so.much.rain! Cora has not been happy with all the rain either. She doesn't mind regular rain, but it has been pouring and she does not like that one bit. Trying to keep her occupied and out of trouble in the house is another story- hence why all of her stuffed animals are now headless, limbless, and gutted. Sigh.

Anywho, as part of this weeks meal prep I made roasted red potatoes and mushrooms and also cooked green beans. To make things easy every week I plan out my meals before I go grocery shopping. This way I only buy what I need and I don't have extra food laying around that will go bad. Overall this weeks meal prep was very easy and took little time- and I am all about easy! 

Roasted Red Potatoes
  • 8 baby red potatoes, sliced into chunks
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • pepper, to taste
  • garlic salt, to taste
  • greek seasoning, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cook spray or coconut oil. 

In a large ziploc bag combine potatoes, olive oil, and seasoning. 

Spread potatoes on baking sheet. *Note I baked my potatoes and mushrooms together to save time.

Bake potatoes at 400F for 25-35 minutes. Check potatoes at 25 minutes to make sure they don't burn. The potatoes should be crispy not mushy when they are done.

Roasted Mushrooms
  • 8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

In a large ziploc bag combine garlic and mushrooms.

On a baking sheet spread out the mushrooms. I cooked them on the same sheet with the potatoes.

Bake at 400F for 25 minutes. Even in if the potatoes are not done remove the mushrooms from the baking sheet and return the potatoes to the oven. No one wants burnt mushrooms.

While the mushrooms and potatoes were cooking I prepped and started cooking the green beans.

For the green beans, wash the beans and snip the ends off. 

In a large pot place trimmed beans and cover them with water.

Cover pot and place it on the stovetop. Turn the burner to high. 

When the water begins to boil turn the tilt the lid allowing the heat to escape and turn the burner down to a medium/high heat. On my stove I had it at 6.5. 

Allow the beans to simmer for 12 minutes. Check the beans- you want them to be tender, not soggy but not crunchy either. If the beans are tender remove from heat and drain the water. 

I added a bit of garlic to the green beans, but I prefer my green beans pretty plain. Feel free to play around with different spices to get a different taste.

Nutrition for baby red potatoes (based on six 1/2 cup servings):
Nutrition Facts
Servings 6.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 88
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2 g3 %
Saturated Fat 0 g1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 0 mg0 %
Potassium 413 mg12 %
Total Carbohydrate 17 g6 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g5 %
Sugars 1 g
Protein 2 g4 %
Vitamin A0 %
Vitamin C30 %
Calcium17 %
Iron0 %