expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Shakeology Chia Pudding

I think being cold hurts.

Hurts like being punched all over. Each November I kiss the feeling in my feet goodbye until March, and grouse about how unfair and awful the winter is. I seek solace in one of three places: the shower, my car, and underneath my electric blanket. I can only imagine what might happen if I lived north of the Red River...

For my birthday, my sister was moved to sent me a tank top she saw at Old Navy. I modeled it for her in this picture:

When winter rolls around, about the last thing I want to do is drink a giant, frosty Shakeology for breakfast.

There is a time and place for an icy Shakeology. Winter in Texas is not one of them.
However, I am committed to having my healthiest meal of the day every day (six years running!), so when I discovered the meal I'm about to share with you, I was ecstatic.

It's Shakeology Chia Pudding.

But first! A primer on chia seeds.

Perhaps chia rings a bell? Perhaps you remember that they used to be "pets"?

These are the same chia seeds. But now we know that, in addition to an interesting conversation piece on your mantel, they are also a nutritional powerhouse!

Chia Seeds In A Bowl

Here are the stats:

Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals such as 

Dietary fiber (11g – 42% recommended daily value)
Protein (4.4g – 9% RDV)
Omega-3 fatty acids (4915 mg)
Omega-6 fatty acids (1620 mg)
Calcium (77 mg – 18% RDV)
Copper (0.1 mg – 3% RDV)
Phosphorus (265 mg – 27% RDV)
Potassium (44.8 mg – 1% RDV)
Zinc (1.0 mg – 7% RDV)

Chia also contains essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic and linoleic acid, mucin, strontium, Vitamins A, B, E, and D, and minerals including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin, thiamine, and they are a rich source of anti-oxidants.

Sounds like a good way to start the day to me!

You can get chia seeds at virtually any grocery store, as they have become really popular. You can sprinkle them on salads and in smoothies, but it's important to know that chia seeds soak up liquid and expand. The best way to use them (particularly in the pudding I'm sharing today) is to soak them for at least 20 minutes, but preferably overnight.

Here's what we do: get a small mason jar and spoon in six tablespoons of dry chia seeds. Fill the mason jar with water to about 3/4 full. Let the seeds soak overnight in the fridge. They will stay fresh for about a week, and each chia pudding uses about one heaping tablespoon of the soaked seeds. I'd estimate that we get about 8-10 tablespoons of soaked seeds from the jar. Remembering to soak the seeds is the hardest thing about chia pudding...and that's not so hard, is it?

Okay, now to the good stuff. Shakeology chia pudding. What I love so much about this recipe is its versatility. If you like fruity, make it fruity. If you want chocolate pudding, make it chocolate. I'm going to give you the base recipe and some of my favorite variations. Here's what you need at the very least:

- 1 heaping TB soaked chia seeds
- 1 scoop Shakeology, any flavor
- Fruit, any kind (optional)
- Liquid (water, milk of any kind), amount varies

That's the bare minimum, but we tend to go nuts with this. Here's how I like to do it:

Apple Pumpkin Shakeology Chia Pudding
- 1 heaping TB soaked chia seeds
- 1 scoop vanilla Shakeology
- 1 diced apple (cooked by itself in microwave for 1:30)
- 1/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
- Cinnamon
- 1TB flax seeds
- 1 TB hemp seeds
- Water (mixed in slowly until I reach a pudding-y consistency)
- 3 TB walnuts on top

Oh...My mouth is watering thinking about it. I seriously think I need an intervention. Here's another one.

Chocolate Berry Shakeology Chia Pudding
- 1 heaping TB soaked chia seeds
- 1 scoop chocolate Shakeology
- 1 cup frozen strawberries and blueberries, thawed in microwave
- Cinnamon
- 1TB flax seeds
- 1 TB hemp seeds
- 1 TB cacao nibs
- Water (mixed in slowly until I reach a pudding-y consistency)
- 3 TB walnuts on top

Not only does it taste amazing, but it does not leave me feeling cold from the inside out. You have to try this! And if you're not already drinking ingesting the healthiest meal of the day, please do yourself (and us!) a favor by ordering a month's supply here. There's a 30-day money-back guarantee, so the only risk is that you'll come through a month a healthier person. 


Workout of the Day
P90X3 Decelerator

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sport Wedding Bands

Confession 1: I really only wear my wedding ring if I dress up.

Confession 2: I rarely "dress up." We're talking one or two days a week, usually church and home school co-op day.

I feel kind of bad about it. I mean, Zach spent a pretty penny on those rings and we've got 13 years going over here...I ought to represent! But I don't really like wearing jewelry that much, I don't like getting my pretty ring dirty with the messes I make in the kitchen, and I inevitably scratch one of the kids in the face whenever I have it on.

At Christmas Zach mentioned he'd like to get a sport wedding band that he could wear while training. It's basically just a piece of rubber that isn't going to get tarnished or broken, or hooked on a piece of metal and tear off a digit. I'm for all those things, so I got him one. And it was so cool, I bought one for myself, too!

Zach's (black) is a BULZi brand ring (order on Amazon here) and mine (gray) is a ThunderFit brand (order on Amazon here). 

What I like about my ring is that it's comfy, and I can wear it anytime, anywhere. I don't care if it gets chicken guts or chicken poop on it (both very real possibilities). It will not maim anyone's face, and I can wear it while working out. Both rings were really cheap, so it's been funny to hear the amount of comments both of us have gotten about them. People are surprised when I tell them it's just rubber. 

I've heard of hard-core exercisers getting tattoo wedding "bands" instead of wearing a ring. If you're anti-tattoo, I think this is a good alternative! Personally, I'm glad for the chance to represent even when I'm not "dressed up." 

Workout of the Day
Yoga Camp with Adriene Day 4

I know, I know! I haven't posted about how our Ultimate Reset ended up. I will soon. It's just that things haven't changed much since it "ended." I'm eating many of the same meals, still drinking a gallon of water a day, and still feeling AWESOME. It was a great experience.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Barn Wood Backsplash

We have lived in our home near Austin for 18 months now, and for a good bulk of that time we have wondered what to do with the backsplash. Well, actually there were more pressing things on our mind before the backsplash, but now that those things have been largely completed, we recently turned our attention to the torn up, ugly walls in our kitchen.

I was truly open to all kinds of ideas for backsplashes, but I thought it would be nice if it was:

1) Cool looking.
2) Easy to install.
3) Relatively inexpensive.

I'm happy to report we were able to accomplish all three! While at Home Depot one weekend, Zach spied some engineered, tongue and groove "barn wood." It was regular wood stained to look like barn wood, but it was symmetrical, uniform, and hence very easy to work with.

Now I know that real barn wood would be much cooler, but real barn wood is neither easy to install nor relatively inexpensive. So it was off the table. We also considered pallet wood, but I'd read some things about the chemicals and cleanliness of using pallet wood in your kitchen, so that gave me pause. After one trip to Home Depot to take a look at their product, I was sold!

This project was so easy. I feel comfortable saying that even though I was not the person doing the measuring and cutting. The whole thing took less than a day and I didn't hear even one curse word along the way, so to me that equals an easy project. And the final cost for materials was in the neighborhood of $150.

Here's a picture of the project halfway through. The most difficult part truly was the measuring and cutting out for the electrical and light sockets. Luckily my math whiz, construction-minded husband does not have an issue with that. See that window on the right? That angle was a nightmare to cut and measure, but he got it the first try! He's the bomb.com.

Here's a closer picture of the back wall and wall by the refrigerator. We glued the boards but used nails sporadically, too. I think the nails add to the rustic look.

Here's a look at the whole kitchen (my apologies for not bothering to clean up. I was tired from telling Zach what boards needed to go where). 

Ooh, look at the floors, too. That's ceramic tile that looks like wood.
We've had it for a year now and I'm still SO HAPPY with it. 
I'm thrilled with how this turned out! After getting all the boards up, we took another trip to Home Depot to procure some stain to touch up some areas where cuts made real wood color show through. Then we put a coat of polyurethane on the wood so that I can wipe it down when splashes inevitably occur.

This stuff was so easy to work with that we are planning another project using the "barn wood" -- an accent wall in the formal dining room that will cover three-fourths of the wall with a small shelf on top. I found the idea on....wait for it....PINTEREST, the place from which all good and bad ideas are born. I'll be sure to chronicle that project, too!


Workout of the Day
Chopping loads of veggies for the Ultimate Reset and Yoga with Adriene Day 14 of 30 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ultimate Reset Day 13

Just a quick check in on day 13 to say that I feel AWESOME. Like really, fantastically awesome.

I was scared going into this thing, to be honest. Last time was HARD. I thought about food ALL the time. This time has been relatively easy and enjoyable.

Weight loss has not been as dramatic as last time (11 pounds in round one, if I remember correctly); thus far I've lost four pounds. Choosing to do 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene instead of working out has also been key, as I feel I'm maintaining strength while gaining flexibility and a general sense of emotional well-being, without burning a bunch of calories.

The one area I've struggled is sleep, but I think I know why. To drink one gallon of water takes all day, and usually after dinner I have one big old glass of hot Sleepytime Chamomile tea. It helps with any hunger that might crop up in the evening, but also ensures that I have to pee a lot in the first half of the night. Hence, sleep disruption. But last night I slept from 9pm - 5am with only one pee interruption, so I'm feeling feisty today!

You cannot imagine how good the food on the Reset tastes. Last night's Mediterranean roasted beets with a side of coconut collards (we actually used the fresh green leaves off our broccoli and Brussels sprouts plants we have growing in the winter garden*), was out of this world amazing. A little side of quinoa soaked up that delicious coconut milk....mmmm.

* While typing this sentence I realized that I have punched my one-way ticket to hippie-ville. Good thing we already live near Austin.

One breakfast change I've made: the plan calls for three cups of fruit. I'm doing chia pudding with my vegan chocolate Shakeology. Add fruit (strawberries and blueberries) with a tablespoon of soaked chia seeds, some walnuts, a scoop of Shakeology and some water. You get a chocolate pudding that's kind of warm and is most definitely NOT a freezing cold shake that makes me miserably cold. It's really good!

I turn 38 years old in a week, and I'm thinking this Ultimate Reset process is the best gift I could have given myself. I'm not worried about "missing out" on birthday cake, because I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything at all!

More updates to come!

***** Would you like to complete the Ultimate Reset? Zach and I will be more than willing to help you through the process! Visit www.UltimateReset.com/CoachZachH to read more about the plan and purchase your kit. ********

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Tips to Survive the Ultimate Reset

Day six of Ultimate Reset  Part Deux!

Wow, this round of the Reset couldn't feel more different than the first. Turns out I didn't have an understanding of just how much the Reset impacted our menu plans and food habits as much as it has! I think the biggest change has been my attitude in that I actually look forward to my Reset meals, whereas the first time meals were full of fear and dread. Making new meals every day was hard, and when you like food as much as I do it felt like pretty much the end of the world if I put in all that work and then didn't like the meal (spoiler alert: it wasn't often that I didn't like the meals).

The other thing that has been different is that I have not been hungry at all. It seems to me I sat around and pined for food quite a bit the first time. I think our experimentation on the high fat diet has helped both Zach and I stabilize our blood sugar and not rely as heavily on snacks as we once did, so three square meals seems to be working just fine.

So, all that said, I've thought of a few tips to make the Reset easier for anyone who attempts it.

1.) Plan. Then plan again. And once more...the planning. I can't emphasize it enough. Whatever it is you need to do to get your head around what it is you need to do, do it! Use your phone, use paper, use whatever mode you feel most comfortable with to over-plan your plan. You must be the valedictorian of planning for the next 21 days.

2.) Take a chill pill. All that planning you did? You're still gonna forget stuff. Or you're not going to anticipate that it takes six cucumbers, not four, to make it through the week. Don't get annoyed, don't get mad at yourself. Either find a substitution (how about celery? It's basically crunchy water just like cucumbers are), or make a run to the store. It's not the end of the world. It's going to be okay.

3.) Open your mind. And your taste buds. You're going to eat things that look weird. Look at it as an adventure! It's not all going to be your favorite food, but you just may find some things you really like. My favorite food, zucchini cashew soup, comes from the Reset!

4.) Drink water early and often. You've got to drink a gallon a day on the Reset, and if that water bottle isn't in your hand basically first thing in the morning, you're not going to make it. It requires some diligence to get a gallon down your gullet. Remember that hot tea (particularly in winter!) counts toward your quota, so use that as much as needed.

5.) Batch cook. You'll see in the meal plan that you have rice, quinoa, and oatmeal several times the first week. Make big batches of all of these things before you start and your life will be so much easier! All of those items reheat beautifully and it saves precious food prep time. This time around, I also grilled a big batch of chicken to add to the kids' meals when we are eating largely meatless. If you have people in your family who aren't participating and you're responsible for feeding them, this makes life easier, too. Tonight the kids ate our roasted root veggies and zucchini cashew soup along with us, but I added 21 Day Fix turkey meatballs, which I had in the freezer, to their plate.

6.) Slow down! Savor your food. This has been huge for me this time around. I am famous for inhaling my food, so I've been making an effort to slow down. As a country, I think we've really disconnected from the gift of food. We take it for granted that we can get food anywhere, anytime. We see eating as a chore that we need to get done so we can get to the next thing. It's sad.

When you're on a plan that gives you only three square meals a day, you really look forward to that food and it tastes so good when you sit down to it. When you're eating your Reset meals, don't multitask. No T.V., reading your iPad or phone, or otherwise taking your attention away from the meal you're eating. Take small bites and chew them thoroughly. Eat slowly. Enjoy your company if someone is eating with you. Put your utensil down sometimes and take a deep breath. Enjoy.

7.) Think positive. Try not to dwell on what you're not having. Do I miss my Saturday morning coffee? Yes. But I've tried not to dwell on that and have bought some tea that I really enjoy to have in its place. So much of this battle is going to be in your head. You've got to choose to think positively!

That's all for now. Zach and I both feel really good and are glad we're taking this challenge together. We're also both enjoying our 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene! Check her out on YouTube for a great intro to yoga.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Ultimate Reset, Part Two: Day One Re-cap

Happy 2016!

Zach and I have decided to kick off the new year with another round of Beachbody's Ultimate Reset 21-day cleanse. We completed our first Reset almost three and a half years ago, and it's time to give it another go!

(Don't know what the Ultimate Reset is? Read about it here.)

When I told my boot campers that we were going to do the Reset, their response was: WHY? And then I was a proud trainer, because it's always good to ask that question of yourself before you embark on something that might be difficult. I knew that I needed to get in touch with my WHY before I did this, because otherwise it would be really easy to cave when the going gets tough.

My why for doing the Reset this time around is to shake things up and give myself a challenge. I've gotten into a pattern where working out and eating (relatively) healthy is just routine. Especially over the holidays, I find myself saying, "Hey, I can eat that because I'm a pretty fit person, and I can work it off tomorrow..." blah, blah, blah. I want to get back in touch with being on point with food because it's what my body needs and quit making excuses when I feel like treating myself...more and more often. And during this Reset I won't be working out, but instead taking a break and doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. Adriene has a GREAT page on YouTube and I definitely recommend that you check it out, even if you've never done yoga before. She is silly and fun, and makes yoga very accessible.

In an in-depth interview just now sitting across from the breakfast table with Zach, he said that his WHY is to "redefine his relationship with food." He feels like he's gotten into a habit of eating just because the food is there, instead of because he's truly hungry (I hear that!), and he wants to buckle down to get a bit more strict with himself.

So, we're going to try to check in regularly (I'd love to say daily, but I hate to make a promise I may not keep!) and let you know how it's going and what our experience is like this time around.

We finished day one yesterday, and it went very well...but it's the easiest and yummiest day of the whole Reset, with a dinner of Salmon, asparagus, and new potatoes. The food stays yummy throughout the three weeks but gets smaller from here, so that's where the challenge lies.

Things are already easier this time because we have kept so many of these meals in our regular rotation. The zucchini cashew soup coming up this week is my number one favorite food, so that alone is making it easier! Last time I was not prepared for the amount of food prep and being unfamiliar with the meal I was cooking each day. This time I've batch prepped all my oats, rice, lentils, and quinoa for the week, as well as some chicken breasts to help feed the kids when they're not having the same thing as us for dinner. Tonight they will have the same dinner again because they love the black bean and rice tacos!

Yesterday I got a little grumpy in the afternoon, but that could have been attributed to A) PMS, B) S.A.D. (Seasonal Affect Disorder, aka, I NEED SOME SUN IN MY LIFE!) C) I hate being cold D) I wanted to eat, even though I wasn't hungry. I think it was more of an attitude issue than a Reset issue. I got my gallon of water taken down (mostly in the form of hot tea), and woke up this morning feeling well and not terribly hungry.

Here's to day two!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Snap Kitchen: Restaurant Review

By Zach

In my last post, “Eating on the Go,” I mentioned that I have had great experiences with Snap Kitchen, a nationwide (Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Houson) restaurant that specializes in pre-portioned, grab-and-go food. They cater to people who "don't want to sacrifice convenience, health, or taste." I use Snap Kitchen anytime I am traveling out of town for more than one day.

Traveling and maintaining a healthy diet typically do not go hand in hand. It requires twice as much work to eat healthy when on the road and away from home. It is easy to find yourself eating every meal at a restaurant, or worse getting your calories at the drive thru. In my opinion, the best option is to prepare all your meals at home for your trip. However, for a multi-day trip, this can be a huge burden. Snap Kitchen takes the work out of preparing meals for time away from home.

When you walk into a Snap Kitchen, it's not like a normal restaurant, it's more like a convenience store. All the food is pre-made and pre-portioned, and it is sitting in microwaveable containers along the refrigerated wall units. There is a microwave there in the store and a few tables, but most people are coming in, grabbing their containers, paying, and then hitting the road. It's fast and easy. Well, picking out what you'd like to eat is kind of hard because everything looks so good.

I have tried almost all of Snap Kitchen's dishes and have not been disappointed even once. That's not to say that some dishes are better than others, but that's subjective of course. Even when the dish isn't my "favorite" per se, it was still high-quality food that satisfied my hunger. 

A couple dishes that I have purchased more than once because I enjoyed it so much the first time include: Bison Quinoa Hash, Chicken and Sesame Chopped Salad, and the Crispy Scottish Salmon.

For snacks or additions to a smaller meal, I also recommend the Harvest Kale Snack salad, the Smoked Salmon, and the Kale Caesar Snack salad. I drink Shakeology for breakfast 99 percent of the time, so my testing of the breakfast items has been limited. One I did try is the the Bison Breakfast Bowl. Talk about a great way to start your day off with some healthy protein!

Snap also carries some great snack items. I mentioned the Exo Cricket bars in the last post. I am also a fan of their Caveman Clusters.

While the food is fresh, tasty, and healthy, Snap Kitchen also has great customer service.  I went into the store one morning to stock up for a three-day trip out of town for work. When I got home and started to pack my foods in my travel cooler, I noticed that the receipt had three additional items on it that I did not order. I checked my items four times just to ensure that I did not receive the items. 

Once I was confident that I had paid for three items that I did not receive, I called the store to explain the mistake. The Snap employee remembered me and pulled up my order. She knew exactly what had happened. Someone had phoned in an order right before I checked out. However, the phone order did not get properly completed before my order was entered. It added the two orders together. She requested for me to come back into the store so that she could credit my credit card. I explained that I was on my way out the door for a business trip and did not have time. She offered to just give me a $25 store credit on my account. I looked at the three items and stated that they only added up to about $15. She said that the additional $10 would be for the hassle. I thought this was a very generous gesture that will keep me as a loyal customer.

I definitely recommend Snap Kitchen as a great resource for meals if you're traveling, or even if you don't have time to cook one night. If you go, remember to get a points card to start building up towards free items!

Workout of the Day

Tony Horton Fitness on YouTube: QUADZILLA