My Healthy Life: A Manifesto

my healthy life

Before writing this post, I thought I would revisit what I wrote around this time last year. I had just signed up for Weight Watchers again, and had already lost close to 20 lbs since having my baby (she was a month old at the time – crazy to imagine, eh). Since then, I have made some major changes.

While Weight Watchers totally kicked my butt into gear and helped me learn from the food and activity choices I was making, I have opted for a complete lifestyle change and ultimately chose a route where I wouldn’t have to pay a monthly fee to be told how to eat. I also was not completely behind the idea where you get count points based on caloric intake – tricking people into believing that diet food is healthier for you, when it can often be worse.

I don’t want to focus on consuming diet food, but rather consuming food that is real, whole, good for you and delicious. My healthy goals for this year are to: workout for 30 minutes per day, practice yoga for 30 minutes a day and cook all of our meals from scratch. Sure, there will be times where we go out to eat. I am in no way perfect when it comes to my diet, and I think 99% of people can agree with that. But I will be more conscious when I do go out to eat. That’s all you gotta do. Be conscious.

I also want to focus more on remixing recipes by substituting good, healthy ingredients where they are needed and I will continue sharing my concoctions with you.

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In case you are also resolving to get more fitness and healthy food in your life for the next year, here are a few websites that really helped me last year:

  • Greatist: This is one of the first websites I got into when I started this health kick. I attempted many a health challenge through Greatist, and while I barely ever stuck with them – I learned a lot and I love how proactive and fun the writers are. They actually created Renew Year, where they post new challenges each morning and you share on Twitter when you complete the challenge with the hashtag #healthyishappy. I love it!
  • The Gracious Pantry – This is by far one of my favorite sites and has truly motivated me to keep eating real and good food. Her recipes are all clean and she has good ones! My family loves every recipe I make…and that is really saying a lot. Because they hate anything with the word healthy in it.
  • DoYouYoga.com – I love this yoga site, and I love Erin Motz. She always makes yoga practice fun, and they’re always adding new videos. She has really inspired me to pursue a yoga instructor certification, and that is one of my goals now.
  • Fitness Blender – I found this couple through YouTube, and I love their workouts. They’re quick, but get the job done. They also do different challenges that you can join in, and they often post videos talking about nutrition and health – which I love. It’s not about being skinny for them, it’s about being healthy.

While you may not be on your A-game all the time, as long as you are eating good food and remaining active, you’ll be fine. I promise.  Let’s do this not to be skinny – let’s do it to be healthy. Most of all, let’s DO IT.

Have you made a resolution to be more healthy in 2014? Did you write about it? Share your link in the comments and post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google + with the hashtag #myhealthylife. You can also find more healthy inspiration on my Pinterest. Cheers to healthy and happy new year!

If it wasn’t for Pinterest, I wouldn’t cook

SONY DSCI’ve given it some thought, and I’ve concluded that Pinterest is the reason why I enjoy cooking so much. All of the pretty little pictures and cute labels make the food look so appetizing, I just want to make all of it.

What I love the most about Pinterest, is that if I don’t like something in a recipe or I want to do something a little different, there are hundreds of other recipes I can check out. Sure, I could just google all of this, but there wouldn’t be any pretty pictures!

I need the pictures.

So when I decided to make spaghetti and breadsticks tonight, I used three different recipes – one for the marinara sauce, one for the pizza crust and one for the breadsticks. I also had to improvise with penne since I didn’t have any spaghetti noodles. Luckily, I’m a pretty big penne fan.

The sauce came from High Heels and Grills and was a pretty big hit, I must say. I think this will be my new go-to for marinara sauce. I might even start canning it to keep for those days I don’t really feel like making sauce. I’ve been having a lot of those days lately.

The recipe called for basil, which I was able to pull from the garden. Since I didn’t have the oregano it called for, I opted to pull some thyme. Did I mention that I love having a garden?

Since I didn’t have any pizza dough to use for the breadsticks, I decided to make my own dough. And for that, I went to Plum Siena. I followed the recipe, but forgot to dust it with cornmeal. Nonetheless, it was pretty amazing. Next time, I’ll have to make a pizza with this dough! I’m thinking of doing a jalapeno garlic dough next time.

SONY DSCAll of this was inspired from the potao-laced breadstick recipe I got from Spoon Fork Bacon. One look at that picture, and you will know why I wanted to make that recipe! At first, the dough looked a little raw after I baked it but then we realized it was just moist because of the potatoes. Not raw at all, but totally addicting.

This might be one of my favorite dinners, and the whole dinner was only 10 Weight Watcher points. Win/win!

Pumpkin wheat biscuits

SONY DSCThis morning I woke up needing a biscuit. I looked up some biscuit recipes and finally settled on this recipe from joyofbaking.com. Since the recipe looked a little hefty, I thought I would make some changes to make them healthier. This is what I did:

 

2 1/2 cups (325 grams) all-purpose wheat flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon (14 grams) granulated white sugar (optional)
1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces pumpkin puree
3/4 cup (180 ml) milk soy milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Topping:
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

The recipe yielded 10 biscuits, but I ended up with 20, and they were only one Weight Watchers point, as opposed to the six points with the original recipe!

They turned out good, but a little dry. I was thinking about adding some dark chocolate chips to the batter to give them some sweetness. I really love dark chocolate. But after I had them with my leftover dinner, I decided that putting chocolate in them might not be the best idea.

So, I think I will add some more pumpkin puree, since I could hardly taste it anyway and maybe add some honey.

Please feel free to add any suggestions to make the biscuits less dry in the comments section!

Well, hello pre-pregnancy jeans

Current weight: 154/ goal weight: 130

After I weighed myself on Sunday (with a teething baby, it has been a little hard to blog as often) I was thinking about how much I weighed before I got pregnant and was reminded that I was heftier then than I am now. Although I did walk and bike everywhere, it was normally to the bar and all that beer and fried food consumption can really get to you!

Not going to lie, I do allow myself some cheat days but I wait to do so after I have accomplished something…so it really feels like an award. And this accomplishment sure did deserve a reward!

SONY DSCI FIT INTO MY PRE-PREGNANCY JEANS!

I’m not saying they fit perfectly and that I didn’t have a little muffin top stickin out, but by golly gosh, they zipped and buttoned and I could move without fear of the button popping! I have been a lot more active with trying to keep this house cleaned and organized and with my renewed love for gardening.

The only thing I have trouble sticking to is working out. By the time I get the babe calmed down in the morning, it’s already 10 am and it’s time to start cleaning and get the day going. Then I tell myself I’ll start working out when Sam comes home, but then we’re eating dinner and I’m usually doing homework and finishing anything I couldn’t get done during the day.

So, when do I work out?

I’m not even going to try doing my workout videos for a while. I think all of my exercises will involve my baby, which is a cool experience that I can tell her all about when she asks what we did ALL day together.

So, my next challenge: to hit 150 by the 15th of this month, 140 by the 14th of april and finally, to hit 130 by the 15th of may.

LET’S DO THIS!

Chilli makes everything better

Current weight: 157/ goal weight: 130

So, I was a little disappointed when I weighed in this morning. I guess I should be happy that I didn’t gain weight (especially after my cheat day) but I was kind of peeved with myself for not pushing myself to work out more.

Dang it, self!

SONY DSCAlas, I do have some good news to report…I made an AMAZING chilli in the crock pot! It’s so simple. I go the recipe from Weight Watchers (turns out they also have recipes…who knew!) and it’s only six points for one serving!

I paired this with my whole wheat bread for a 10 point dinner. Yeah, that’s a little steep but I saved up for the day to enjoy this wonderful meal. And I was even able to enjoy two Caramel deLites after!

Yes, it is lame that I count points for every meal but if it means I will be able to fit into my old jeans and not have to get rid of anything – well, unless it’s too big; then I will totally get rid of it – and not have to buy any new clothes, I will do it!

Plus I love that feeling of being able to laugh in my Wii Fit’s face when it tells me I lost weight. It’s the little things in life.

Recipe below (you will be surprised how easy it is):

If you use my measurement of 1 1/2 cup per serving, there’s about 4 servings…maybe a little more.

  • 1 pound uncooked turkey sausage
  • 15 oz can of pinto beans, undrained
  • 14 1/2 can of of diced tomatoes with chillies, undrained
  • 14 1/2 can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onions, undrained
  • 1 medium uncooked onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • I also added some chilli powder to spice it up a little

Put it in the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. We had mine about 5 hours after I put it in the cooker and it was amazing! So warm and delightful.

What is your favorite chilli recipe? Share in the comments!

 

a day of soup

I’m pretty sure that there is not one person in the world who loves moving. All of the packing and unpacking, I could really do without that. I can’t wait for the day when I can afford to have movers, that’s my version of achieving the American dream.

But, there is one good thing I can always count on when I move. If you give yourself enough time, it can be like spring cleaning. Of course, if you don’t allow yourself the time, you end up just throwing everything into boxes and bags and promising yourself that you’ll organize when you get there, which you’ll never do. Trust me…I’ve been there before.

Another thing I like to do before I move is see what I can make with the food in the cupboard and fridge so I don’t have to pack it, or even worse…get frustrated with all the recipes I bought food for but never actually used and just get rid of the food altogether.

IMG_2680So, when I looked in my cupboard and saw this little beauty, I figured this would be the perfect time to try it. I made a cup of rice with 1 cup of veggie broth and 2 cups of water. Then I added a cup of the soup on top of it and…voila! My lunch was served…and it was amazing. The soup was 8 points, which is a little high but it was healthy and I wasn’t ready to eat my own skin by the time dinner was ready, like usual.

For dinner, I decided to try another recipe from Skinny Ms. Slow Cooker. This time it was a Southwestern black bean and veggie soup, which at only 3 points for a cup and a half of soup, it was surprisingly filling.

Due to some of the ingredients not being available, I had to make some small adjustments:

  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes (regular diced is optional)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can green chili peppers, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce cans) black beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium

IMG_2679All you have to do is put those ingredients and then cook the soup on low for about 6-7 hours. Did I mention how much I love my slow cooker? I swear it was invented by a stay at home mom to a little baby. I was able to feed her, rock her, cuddle her, feed her, change her diaper, feed her some more and do my homework without ever touching the crock pot. It was amazing!

The best part of this…I have leftovers for tomorrow. You never truly appreciate the value of leftovers until you are the one cooking.

New Year Challenge: just a little lighter

Current weight: 160 (eeek!!)/ goal weight: 130

So I’ve finally learned the trick to not cringing every time I get on my Wii Fit to weigh in. Push the mute button. Of course, the day I figure this out is the same day I actually want to hear what that little Wii Board dude has to say! I finally did it…I lost 3 lbs!

I made sure to track everything I ate and not just ignore the app when I hate something that would rack up the points. Of course, I allowed myself a splurge day at Macaroni Grill on Saturday, but to be fair…I was moving and cleaning that day.

I also started following the 12 Exercises for New Moms, which is way easier than trying to work out through my daughter’s screams and cries. When she gets cranky while we’re working out, I just take a break and let her chill out then we get back to it. Being able to work out with her will make it easier to stay on track.

challenges_aheadI also wanted to start making weekly challenges for myself. In just a couple days, it will be a month since I started this diet. By this time, I was hoping to lose 10 lbs, at 2.5 lbs a week. Since my main goal was to lose 30 lbs in 3 months, I’m a little behind.

So, my goal for next week: do a new exercise routine every day with the baby. If I complete this goal by next week, I can move on. If not, I will keep that same goal for the next week and so on, until I finish it.

One of my biggest issues I have with myself is not being able to finish anything I start, so hopefully this will also boost my confidence a little.

Do you find it easier or harder to achieve your goal when you set yourself little challenges, or do they prove to be obstacles?

the weekly treat

SONY DSCLately, I’ve seen a lot of daily/weekly/monthly challenges and was feeling a little inspired. I know I just recently became domesticated, but I have a lot of family and friends who love to bake and are always showing off with their awesome pictures of their awesome food.

So, I decided to start “The Weekly Treat,” a group on Facebook where we share our equal love for baking and all things sweet. Every Monday I will post a sweet treat. One week, it could be cookies…the next, cake. Who knows, it’s a crazy world.

Then, you can do whatever you want with it. For instance, if you are a beginner, you could find a relatively easy recipe to follow. If you’re an avid baker, this could be your chance to revisit a classic recipe or maybe challenge yourself to make something different.

Since I’m on this health kick, I’m going to challenge myself to find a healthy alternative to everything I make. I’m trying to keep all my treats below 5 Weight Watchers points per serving. I know…life is super fun over here.

We’ll all post the recipes we’re using and I’ll share any recipe I can find to provide a little inspiration for everyone. At the very least, you might find some new recipes. You could also find some new blogs to follow or even some new friends!

So, whether you’re a baking addict or you’re just getting started, feel free to join our group! You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more recipes and baking inspiration.

New Year Challenge: getting healthy, seriously…

workout

Current weight: 163/ goal weight: 130

So it has been 3 weeks since I started Weight Watchers, and I have yet to lose a lb since the first week. I’ve had some time to think about it and here are my reasons (excuses):

– Cecilia doesn’t like when I work out, because I’m not paying attention to her. So I need exercises I can do with her.

– I’m all fine and dandy until I leave the house. Or until people come visit. Or until I want pizza. Then all bets are off.

– I have no will power when it comes to sweet treats.

So, here’s what I’ve decided. I’m going to start planning our dinners for the week. I’ve used my slow cooker twice now and it’s wonderful! I’m going to walk my daughter to get the goods so I can exercise and keep her occupied and happy.

I’ve looked into some exercises I can do with her, and here’s what I’ve found:

12 exercises with baby, from daily green

10 fun exercises to do with baby, from parenting.com

10 workouts for new moms, from babble.com

7 exercises with baby, from babyzone.com

The stroller workout, from fitpregnancy.com

And finally, for those of you who need to see it to believe it, there’s a you tube tutorial from momsintofitness

Now, back to the food.

SONY DSCSince I haven’t made a smoothie in a while, I thought I would get back into the groove with a smoothie I pinned a while ago but had yet to try it out. It’s called the autumn sunrise smoothie, from rawfoodrecipes.com. I added bananas and blueberries to it, and a little bit of ice. I think the smoothie was intended to be warm, but I wanted it cold. It was quite delightful but the amount of ice I added wasn’t enough so I would add more later. I also forgot to add the cinnamon, so that will also be on my to-do list. I digress. At 2 Weight Watchers points, this is definitely a must-have in my kitchen.

enchiladasToday, I made these amazing slow cooker chicken enchiladas from skinnyms.com. Usually, I’m a little nervous about cooking with reduced fat or fat free food, but this was surprisingly full of taste and super good. Sam brought home pizza today and for the first time in my entire life, I wasn’t interested. And it was from Tony’s in Lodi, which reigns in the superior level of pizzas. It was 6 points per enchilada, which is what a normal plain cheese quesadilla is. So, I’ll be making this more often.

Then, it happened. It finally happened. I found a treat that was low in points! When one stupid little carrot cupcake was 11 points, I was discouraged. But then, I found this…oatmeal banana chocolate cookies from the health advocate…and they are only 3 points each! SONY DSC

So, now that I’m armed with all this defense, the Wii Fit shouldn’t ask me what the reason was for my recent weight gain (jerk).

healthy garlic mashed potatoes and honey roasted carrots

I have no problem maintaining a healthy diet…as long as I’m secluded in my apartment by myself and have no access to the outside world. Once I leave the house, all my willpower leaves with me.

The other issue is cooking for two, and making food that both of us will like. Sure, I can cook anything I want, but if we’re both not into it, what’s the point? Since Sam has agreed to support my diet by eating what I want to cook, I figured I would at least make something that wouldn’t make him gag when he looked it.

SONY DSC Lo and behold, I found a Skinny Slow Cooker Garlic Mashed Potatoes recipe on Skinnyms.com! I finally got to use my slow cooker…bonus! The mashed potatoes came out surprisingly full of flavor and the puny 1/2 cup I was allotted on Weight Watchers was actually filling.

Yields: 5 Cups | Serving Size: 1/2 Cup Calories:144 | Total Fat: 1 gm | Saturated Fats: 1 gm | Trans Fats: 0 gm | Cholesterol: 2 mg | Sodium: 37 mg | Carbohydrates: 28 gm | Dietary fiber: 2 gm | Sugars: 3 gm | Protein: 5 gm | Points: 7

  • 3 lb. russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth, no sugar added
  • 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup non-fat, plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is fine too)
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk (or more for consistency)
  • Salt to taste

Directions

Prep your potatoes as usual by washing and cutting out any bad spots. Puncture holes in the potatoes with a fork (please don’t stab yourself! Do this carefully!)

Place all the potatoes in the microwave for 15 minutes on high or until they are nearly fully cooked. Allow potatoes to cool enough to be able to handle them.

Saute the garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes (I did this while letting the potatoes cool)

Cut cooled potatoes into slices and place in slow cooker with chicken broth. Pour the garlic on top of that and mix everything up briefly to distribute.

Cook on low for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until the potatoes are completely cooked and soft. Remove the insert from the heating element with pot holders and place on a heat-safe surface.

Using a hand blender or potato masher, mash the potatoes together with the milk and yogurt. Add salt to taste.

While I was tooling around on Pinterest, (I know…shocking, right?) I found a Honey Roasted Carrots recipe from one of my favorite sites, Six Sisters Stuff. I added the recipe to Weight Watchers and it turned out to only be 4 points per serving, SCORE!

SONY DSCHoney Roasted Carrots
Ingredients:
1 lb baby carrots
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste
 
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, mix together carrots and olive oil until carrots are all covered. Spread the carrots in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle the honey over the carrots and sprinkle salt and pepper on top.  
Bake uncovered, turning once, under just tender (about 25-30 minutes). 
Serves 4-6.
Points: 4
So, my dinner totaled 11 points. This may seem like a lot, but when you consider that a carrot cupcake is worth the same amount, it doesn’t seem that bad!
Now, onto my next goal: finding exercises to do with the little babe since she’s not a fan of me doing anything without her.