Quick and Healthy “New Mom Meal Train” Recipe

Sometimes it feels like as a mom, our opportunities for helping others are limited by the sheer amount of time spent taking care of our kids and cleaning up after them. I love taking dinner to new moms, because I remember how extremely helpful the meal train was to me the weeks (months?) after Judith was born. And I have a super simple recipe I make that’s delicious and healthy, and I can make it in minutes on one of my busiest days.

Ingredients:

1 lb. chicken thighs

2 c. frozen mixed veggies

1 can beans, rinsed and drained

1 T. olive oil

Seasonings of choice (I use Costco’s organic no-salt seasoning)

Salt & pepper
Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Spread veggies in bottom of 8×8 baking dish. Layer beans on top. Toss chicken with seasonings and olive oil in a bowl. Lay chicken flat in a single layer on top of beans. Bake for 35 minutes.

Although I don’t have a picture of this dish (I was in a big hurry last time I made it!) it is inspired by Kath’s recipe and you can see pictures on her blog.

I usually serve it with rice on the side for a healthy meal that comes together in minutes, allowing the busiest of moms to bless one another!

Make Your Abs Cry

Hello hello! If you want a quick but painful ab workout, this is it! I went for a run with Judith in the jogging stroller earlier this week, and did this workout when I got home. I felt it the next day in that great way that means your workout was a success! 😀

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When I need an extra push to do something that’s tough (like this ab workout, or eating veggies instead of more chocolate, or being patient with my daughter), this quote gets me every time! Thinking about how I’ll feel tomorrow helps me just do it – satisfaction for a job well done beats regret for sure.

I’ve been enjoying lots of tea with a drop of Bergamot essential oil at night to stave off the munchies. I’m part of an online fitness challenge right now so I can’t let my team down by eating after hours! It’s the extra push I needed to stop boredom snacking. I could post salt lamp pics all day, but I’ll spare you. That’s what Instagram’s for, right?

  

Little Lady turned 17 mos. a few days ago! She’s changing a lot and is so much fun to be around at this age. The solar lights from our walkway are the perfect accessories for her outfit, obviously.

  
How neat is this? The Living Planet app can turn any pic or video into…whatever type of pic that’s called. I like the way panoramic photos turn out. Videos look so cool. I’d post the original of the pic above, but it’s way, way back in my phone’s photos.

Back to the ab workout–you’ll just need a balance ball for these exercises.

  • 30 knee tucks
  • 50 crunches on the ball
  • 10 knee ups
  • 30-60 sec plank (make it easier without using the ball. Feet on the ball make it harder)

Repeat 1-2 times. Gently stretch in an “up dog” type position to give your abs a break. Enjoy the burn 😉
❤ Gina

4-minute New Years’ Eve Workout

Happy New Years’ Eve! I love this time of year, and after taking a few weeks off in December, I’m refreshed and ready to get back to my routine (as much of a routine as I can with a 16-month-old who takes my plans and laughs at them, then crushes them to pieces. Just saying 😉

Because of the aforementioned 16-month-old, I’m all about super quick workouts over here. And since somebody got a medicine ball for Christmas from the best husband ever, we’re going to use it in this workout 😀 (That was me. I got the medicine ball for Christmas. Just so we’re clear. Haha)

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You can do this without the medicine ball, of course, or substitute a soccer or basketball.

This workout can be completed in 4 minutes, or you can repeat 1-2 times for a longer workout. You can even do each round at different times throughout the day (stay at home moms are all too familiar with that kind of workout, am I right?! Start before breakfast, do a round during afternoon nap time, another round before bed…whatever it takes!)

Form notes:

Squats w/med ball toss – holding medicine ball at waist level, squat. As you stand up, toss the ball above your head and catch just before beginning to squat again. Work at making it fluid movement.

Plank crawl – in full plank position (hands below shoulders), inch one hand and foot forward, then the opposite hand and foot. Keep core engaged!

Medicine ball crunches –  like regular crunches, but with medicine ball held above chest. I like to tap the ball on the floor behind my head, hands on the ball, when I come down after each crunch.

Medicine ball mountain climbers – (if you have wrist problems, skip the medicine ball and do regular mountain climbers) both hands on medicine ball, start slow – these are much harder to balance than regular mountain climbers, and your abs will feel it SO MUCH more! The second time I went through this circuit, I had to stop and hold in plank. Fiery fiery abs!

If you’re out at a party tonight, here are a few of my tips for staying on the healthy wagon:

  • Come (somewhat) hungry – it never works for me to eat before a party. I ended up still stuffing my face because of all the yummy new dishes to try and then I’ve gone way overboard by having two meals instead of one. Now don’t fast all day beforehand or anything, but I never go to a party full. I will usually bring a snack in case the options are terribly unhealthy or there’s not enough food.
  •  Pass up the store-bought dishes or boring food. Don’t just eat it because it’s there. (I’ll skip the store-bought chocolate chip cookies or cakes, I can get those anywhere, but I try the homemade, “family recipe” type dishes.)
  • Don’t forget drinks have calories too, and can have a lot of sugar. I like to enjoy my sugar in baked goods, not drinks, so just ask your hostess what’s in the punch and if it’s loaded with sugar, only take a small sample of it instead of filling up a huge glass.

Enjoy your 4-minute workout and eat some NYE party snacks for me tonight 🙂

6 Easy Party Recipes for New Years’ Eve

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I love throwing a good party! Our townhouse doesn’t provide space for a proper one, but I’m already dreaming about a year full of parties whenever we get a larger home. Whether you’re hosting the New Years’ Eve party or you’re bringing a dish to a friend’s house on NYE, you’ll find a recipe here that will be the talk of the party!

You know I mostly eat a healthy, plant-based diet, but I do like to live it up a little and break the “rules” now and then. So some of these recipes are good for you, and some aren’t the healthiest. But all are delicious 😉

  1. Vegan Seven Layer Dip from The Tolerant Vegan – I love this classic and love the cashew layer in place of sour cream! I’d add a little salt and 2-3 drops lime essential oil to the guacamole layer.
  2. 5 Minute Restaurant Style Blender Salsa from Little Spice Jar – just throw everything into the blender. Add a drop of cilantro and lime essential oil, and you’re good to go. So easy!
  3. Five Ingredient Supreme Pizza Poppers from Cooking for Keeps – instead of refrigerated crescent roll dough I’ll make my own, like this recipe
  4. Spinach & Sesame Crackers by Elephantastic Vegan – serve with a simple hummus (add a drop or two of black pepper oil to the hummus for a lovely kick)
  5. Sparkling Fruit Slushie from In Sonnet’s Kitchen
  6. 5 Minute Cookie Dough Dip from Purely Twins

Enjoy this last week of 2015! Spend time reflecting on the past year and decide what to continue doing and what to change. Your habits/lifestyle/everyday activities create your success, so instead of waiting until January 1st to change, do it today ❤

 

8 Ways to Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Many of us wonder where to start making changes for a healthier lifestyle. Honestly, the best place to start is ANYWHERE (but that doesn’t help, does it? ;). There is so much info online, I wanted to streamline it and give you a few action steps you can start right now.

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Like any list, don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. Small changes over time will yield big results, because you’ve given yourself time to implement them into your daily routine, and they become habits. Habits are EVERYTHING! If you try to do it all at once, it can backfire because it’s hard to juggle all the new things and you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up altogether.

  1. Eat real food, mostly plants.

Anywhere you look online, you’ll find more and more studies show what’s really just common sense: plants are AMAZING for us! We digest more easily when we eat raw plants (hello, enzymes!), get all those antioxidants and vitamins, and the people I know with the glowing skin are eating lots of organic fruits & veggies! I know my skin certainly takes a dive when my diet lacks plants. Just imagine what it does on the inside!

2. Exercise consistently

The simplest way to do this while getting results for your health (think blood sugar regulation!), looks, and the way you feel, is to do three 20-minute HIIT sessions per week. As a busy mom, sometimes this is all I can do in a week! And it’s so much easier than playing the dread-mill or Stairmaster game for hours every week.

3. Think “green”

When I’ve over-indulged in sweets or dairy, I get right back on track by seeing how much green I can get on my plate, at every meal. For example, I’ll have a green smoothie for breakfast, then salad with avocado for lunch (double green!), then fill most of my plate with green veggies for dinner. Before I was so sensitive to caffeine, I’d even drink a glass of iced matcha green tea for added green power! I always feel tremendously better after just a day of eating like this.

4. Receive regular chiropractic care

I believe people (at least in the US) seriously underestimate the benefits of chiropractic adjustments. When our infant daughter had mild constipation issues, and a chiropractor was recommended, I didn’t make the connection. I didn’t think an adjustment would help. When it did, I and when it was explained to me that locked or out-of-place vertebrae can affect all kinds of body systems, I started to understand. Since then, I’ve seen improvement in my own sinus pressure and headaches from regular chiropractic adjustments – I’m talking immediate improvement following an adjustment, that returns after going too long between adjustments. I’m a true believer now!

5. Start a simple essential oil routine

Just start with a few oils a day in, on, and around you. Drink a few drops of your favorite citrus oil in water (glass or metal container only, please) to  uplift your mood. Apply Frankincense and Peppermint to your feet in the morning to feel refreshed and invigorated. And use Lavender or Cedarwood (or both) in the diffuser or on your feet or with water for a pillow spray at night to sleep deeper.

6. Drink more water

There are tons of ways to make drinking water fun on Pinterest – like adding fruit or decorating your water bottle. My #1 tip is to drink at least a glass of room temp or warmer water FIRST THING in the morning, on an empty stomach. Makes digestion soo much easier throughout the day.

7. Rest one day a week

This one should be so easy, right? Wrong! In our culture, anyway, it seems easier to be busy all the time than to take a break. Relax. It is OK not to reply “Going” to all  5 events this weekend on your Facebook event page! Attend the events that really matter – that close friends or family are hosting, that fuel your creative side, or you’re really interested in. Leave the rest. Make one day a week “leftover day” and you won’t have to cook anything or wash dishes. Spend that day praying, meditating, and doing things that make you come alive! (Cue my current favorite song, Come Alive, found here.)

8. Read a book every month

Beside the escape from reality that only a good book can provide, there are so many health benefits to reading. I’d clarify by saying – read one book per month that makes you a better person. Imagine the difference a year from now after reading 12 books for personal development! Some of my favorites are The Slight Edge, Quiet, and (the classic) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Essential Oil Rockstar: Rosemary

  
Rosemary is such a common kitchen herb, I think it gets overlooked. It’s distinctive aroma is a familiar one (roasted chicken for dinner, anyone?), but the oil is much more powerful than the herb itself. Just a drop or two can flavor a whole bird (add it to olive oil first, then coat chicken in the infused olive oil and bake).

It also gives me a big energy boost, especially in the afternoons (I diffuse it with Peppermint almost every day)! But when I hear “Rosemary,” I usually think hair. Yes, Rosemary promotes an abundant-looking head of hair (great news for me, since my hair is so thin, when I braid it, it’s about as thick as my pinky finger. LOL)!

It’s easy to keep a bottle of Rosemary in your shower and add a drop when you squirt conditioner into your hand, or pre-mix 20 drops in the conditioner bottle. Another option for deep conditioning is to mix 3 T. coconut oil, 1 T. olive oil, and 8 drops Rosemary. That’s enough for one treatment, just comb through after applying to evenly distribute it, leave it on for 15-20 minutes, and rinse. Here are a few other ways to use Rosemary:

• Helps reduce nervous tension and occasional fatigue.

• Take internally to support healthy internal organ function.

• Add one to two drops of Rosemary essential oil to meats and favorite entrees.

• Blend with Wintergreen and unscented lotion for a soothing massage experience.

• Blends with Melalueca and Basil for a stimulating scalp massage.

• Diffuse while studying to maintain concentration.

• Mix equal parts Rosemary and Lavender for stress reduction.

Who knew a little kitchen herb could be so useful?