Sweat Sets… Get in Shape by Summer 2018 – Week 1

I have jigglies now in places such as my stomach and arms, my breasts are more relaxed than ever, and I have a double chin. So not flattering.

Let me just say this though, I freaking love my body as is! I have never struggled with poor body image because I grew up appreciating all of the amazing things my body does for me.

However, a returning resolution for 2018 is to get in shape by Summer. When I think of what that means it isn’t a number on a scale but instead having body confidence to wear a swimsuit in public. Not going to lie, my self-esteem has lowered since delivering my son 9 years ago but even then, I never have shied away from wearing a swimsuit in public. The body confidence I am talking about is that kind you see on the beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dental floss in the ass crack with pasties covering titties. I want to be that bold and I want to share my journey.

Starting January 15th, 2018 I’ll have 157 days (22 weeks) until the start of Summer which is June 21, 2018. My plan is to give weekly updates on my weigh in day which will be Sundays. I’ll share my stats, what I’m eating, workouts, and some stories. My hope is that I can inspire others to join me so I would love to see your comments and let’s encourage each other.

Week 1 of 22:

Sunday, January 14th, 2018 – 158 days to go until Summer

Today marks the start of week 1 of my “Get in Shape by Summer” Challenge. I did my official weigh in this morning and my starting weight is 155.1 lbs. For some reason I could not get my FitBit scale to register my body fat percentage but I’ll grab it at next week’s weigh in. Not too worried about the numbers on the scale, just want to see those changes in the way my clothes fit.

Sundays are my day to prep for my week in the mornings and then I relax in the afternoons. Sunday is also my grocery day. This week I don’t need to go grocery except to pick up lunchbox items for Little Man. My fridge, freezer, and pantry are pretty well stocked from last week’s grocery haul.

Here’s what I picked up this week (you will see I went to the store hungry and grabbed a bunch of extras):

  • steak burger patties
  • Cajun roasted turkey lunchmeat
  • cooked shrimp with cocktail sauce
  • protein power snack tray (turkey, ham, hard-boiled egg, and almonds)
  • ready to cook meal – jumbo coconut shrimp
  • ready to cook meal – salmon with broccoli
  • blueberries
  • cherry mixed fruit cup
  • watermelon chunks
  • bananas
  • guacamole cups
  • BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • raw almonds
  • Chobani Greek nonfat yogurt
  • organic ketchup

Spent: $68.83

I planned my Monday workout creating a note in my iPhone with the exercises I want to do tomorrow. A couple of years ago I did boot camp classes which I fell in love with and saw fantastic results from. Of course it’s hard to motivate myself at home to do these workouts and I don’t always push myself to make it through the entire hour but right now it’s not in my budget to pay for these classes. Instead I downloaded the app “Intervals” and created a “Boot Camp Workout” timer that I set to mimic how they did their classes. It starts with a 5 minute warm up and then you work for 6 minutes (alternate between two exercises for a minute at a time), between each set is a 1 minute recovery, and then a 5 minute cool down. Total workout time is 59 minutes.

Every evening I spend about a half hour meal planning for the next day. This is one of my favorite parts of my “get fit” journey because I love food and doing this gets me in the mood for the healthy eats I have to look forward to for the next day.

After I’m done with all of my work week prepping it’s time to get ready for bed. I take off my makeup, shower, brush teeth, moisturize, and jump into bed. According to my FitBit I sleep like shit. I’m hoping one day this will change I can get more than 3-4 hours of sleep a night.

Monday, January 15th, 2018 – 157 days to go until Summer

I had the luxury of getting to work from home today since Little Man is out for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I did sleep in until about 15 minutes before my shift started rather than rolling out of bed early to workout. I did this on purpose knowing I’m home and can fit in mini workouts throughout my work day.

I made a cup of caramel flavored coffee with a little bit of creamer and made a batch of Blueberry Pancakes. Before eating I took my vitamins/supplements. I’m currently taking: L-Lysine, Garlic, Flora gummies, and Vitamin C gummies. The Blueberry Pancakes are made with protein powder which I am not the biggest fan of since I really don’t enjoy the taste of most protein powders. My favorite is the brand, Tera’s Whey, but still, not a fan so much of the taste.

Work is slower this morning so I have been breaking up my “Get Fit by Summer Boot Camp” workout into sets, completing one set and then going back to the office to see what there is to work on. One of the emails I received today is my company announcing they are starting a Biggest Loser challenge today and ending on March 12th with weekly winners and two overall winners, one woman and one man. More motivation to keep me pushing for my challenge I set for myself.

Started to get a terrible headache around lunchtime and felt fatigued. Drank more water and grabbed a cup of coffee to see if the caffeine would help in addition to popping an Excedrin. Trying to destress while working is not something I am able to do because I have a stressful job. Ugh! I believe my headaches to be caused by stress.

For lunch I had a protein snack tray that was premade from H-E-B. Yes, I could easily make this at home but I like the convenience of it.

Got hungry around 3pm and made a Java Peanut Butter Smoothie for a snack and pick me up. I know, I know… my coffee consumption has been unreal today.

To make some extra money and as a way to help boost my daily step count I started walking dogs. I went on a half hour walk with a dachshund, Tyson. We stroll. He’s old and fat. We made it 0.6 miles. Haha!

(Exercises I did today)

Dinner tonight was a heat and serve meal from H-E-B. It was Pesto Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli. The potatoes weren’t my favorite but the salmon was delicious.

Dinner didn’t quite fill me up so I ended up making a shrimp cocktail with about 10 cooked shrimp and some cocktail sauce. The first couple tasted good until the shrimp started to taste fishy.

Get Fit by Summer Day 1

Every evening I prep for the next day, planning meals and workouts.

I am a Nike snob when it comes to my workout clothes. Growing up my mama couldn’t afford their brand and after becoming a big kid in the corporate world and having some extra cash flow from it and side hustles I was able to fill my closet up with Nike finds. Nothing motivates me more to workout than getting a new outfit. I love laying my clothes out the night before matching my Nike shoes to my outfit. A benefit to doing this the night before means I’m not fumbling around in the morning trying to find something to wear and if done earlier in the evening I can see if I am needing to throw a load of workout clothes into the wash if I’m about to run out of clean sports bras, socks, etc.

Today I drank 67.9 oz of water (4 bottles).

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018 – 156 days to go until Summer

My abs are sore today! I love that sore muscle feeling because every time I move it’s a reminder of the hard work I’ve put in and to not undo it by making poor choices.

I slept terrible last night with my FitBit recording less than 4 hours of sleep and I was awake from the hours of 2am-4am. But, here I am anyway, up and ready for work. It is another day of working from home because the city of Houston shut down schools today due to icy road conditions. I’m not complaining. I absolutely love working from home.

Started off my day with a cup of hot chocolate. Definitely not diet compliant but I do allow myself the occasional sweet treat and it’s usually in liquid form. I love my hot drinks in the morning.

I’m fitting in my “Get Fit by Summer Boot Camp” workout as I can throughout my work day. Definitely feeling the burn in my abs.

(Exercises I did today)

Didn’t get hungry until around lunchtime and ended up heating an H-E-B premade meal. I picked up a steak filet pinwheel stuffed with a mediterranean feta spinach mixture with asparagus. I have high hopes for this meal. While it was cooking I did another mini workout and then ate. Oh my gosh!! This is so good and will be repurchased again. This was a smaller portion meal so I had a BBQ Ranch Chopped Salad to go with it and left off the cheese.

We are experiencing freezing temperatures and snow here in Houston today. I cannot get warmed up. Ugh! It’s making me crave soup with cheddar biscuits, like the ones from Red Lobster. Need to keep my mind occupied so I don’t make an unhealthy choice.

Ended up making a cup of coffee to try to help warm me up and help with the yawning with I caught up on The Bachelor. I’m bored with this season. I enjoy watching The Bachelorette so much more but it’s because I can relate more to a woman on a search for finding Mr. Right.

Little Man has been so excited for pizza night. I struggled with this one. I too love pizza night and look forward to it which is maybe once or twice a month. I even texted my best friend who is my biggest supporter and goal reminder and her response to my test wasn’t expected. She told me to enjoy myself this evening. Before I even made my decision I was already feeling guilty. Knowing that I’m reporting my journey here for you all to read I didn’t want to set a bad example. However, this is life and it’s all about balance. I was too excited about the pizza getting out of the oven and forgot to take a picture. Yes, I felt guilty after but I was so satisfied with my dinner choice. No regrets but no more slip ups this week.

Get Fit by Summer Day 2

Today I drank 84.5 oz of water (5 bottles).

Wednesday January 17th, 2018 – 155 days to go until Summer

I woke up around 6am today feeling well rested. Checked my FitBit and it showed 5 hours of sleep. This is huge for me considering I average less than 3 hours a night. I definitely think my daily workouts, no caffeine in the afternoons, and hot shower right before bed helped. It even showed I didn’t wake up at any point in the evening just some periods of restlessness. When I rolled out of bed this morning I could feel how sore my abs are. It even hurt when I sneezed. Haha!! I also cheated and took a peek at the scale (official weigh in is on Sunday) and I couldn’t believe what I saw on the scale. Let’s just say I’m looking forward to a loss this week.

Last night I sacrificed meal planning for sleep knowing I was going to be working from home again today since Houston is experiencing another “snow day”. Our roads are incredibly icy and it’s best no one drives since people don’t know how to drive in these road conditions since this isn’t the norm for us in the winter.

Instead of my morning cup of coffee I decided to make an almond milk matcha latte. I had it warming up on the stove and in the moment of me turning down the heat and turning around to the sink to rinse off my whisk it bubbled over on the stove and made a big mess. Haha! I attempted to enjoy it hot but I’m an iced matcha latte lover and cooled it down in the fridge before pouring it over ice instead. I did add a packet of stevia to it for a little sweetness and it turned out perfect.

I attempted to do my “Get Fit by Summer Boot Camp” but felt fatigued prior to it. Still pushed through the warm up and first round of exercises in the first set before developing loss of voice and having to cough to clear my throat. With illness going around I want to play it on the safe side and take today off from heavy physical activity. A search on the Internet suggested that hoarseness after workouts is common and as long as its minor throat irritation continued exercise is okay. However, if it’s “below the neck” such as chest congestion or upset stomach it’s best to avoid working out. I’m going to reduce the intensity of my workout today sticking to light cardio instead.

A special delivery was made for me for breakfast. How can I say no to that or complain when someone thought to do that for me?! They got my preferred breakfast choice which is their Egg McMuffin with a hash brown and coffee. I think they have some of the best coffee. With trying to make the healthiest choices I lay the hash brown down on the wrapper and top it with the ham and egg and eat it with a fork and knife instead. No, I shouldn’t have the hash brown but there are certain things in life I refuse to pass up and that is McDonald’s has browns and french fries. Haha!

I have the heater on in the house and the temp on the thermostat is showing the house is 75 degrees. WTF?! My hands and toes are freezing and I’m bundled up. This is ridiculous. I think it’s making me want to go into hibernate mode because I’m feeling really tired. I made a cup of coffee to help wake and warm me up. I’m not looking forward to going out into the cold later this afternoon. Ugh.

I had to cancel my walk with a dog client this afternoon due to the driveway being iced over and inability to drive on the icy roads in the Mustang. Thankfully the owner stated they meant to send me a text earlier to cancel. Wish I would have known prior to changing out of my cozy clothes. Oh well. I made the most of being dressed and played a little bit on the ice “skating” around. So much fun!

Work kicked my ass today. We are shorthanded and I’m a bit overwhelmed with my recent promotion which translates to a modified role and more work for me. It’s only 7:30pm and I’m just logging off from my work day and I’m ready to call it a night but meal planning is an absolute must since it’s back to the office tomorrow.

I got hungry right before bed, go figure. I needed something quick to make and something that would fill me up. I microwaved a sweet potato and then mashed the insides with cinnamon butter and topped it with coconut flakes and chopped pecans.

Get Fit by Summer Day 3

Today I drank 58.7 oz of water (3 bottles + 1 cup green tea with lemon).

Thursday January 18th, 2018 – 154 days to go until Summer

Woke up at 5am to get a workout in after hitting snooze for an hour. Struggled with my weighted workout this morning and ended up doing a light cardio workout instead.

I was ambitious this morning when it came to packing my lunch. I made a sheet pan of roasted veggies and another of chicken thighs. I never have an extra 30 minutes in the morning so I made sure to put my time to good use.

To celebrate January birthdays at work our office catered in McDonald’s for breakfast. I grabbed the parfait and walked away from the sausage biscuit. Grabbing a cup of coffee to take back with me to my desk. I didn’t feel like I was missing out and wasn’t hungry enough to have the parfait and sausage.

Around noon I was hungry for lunch and ate some packaged salmon I mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and some Mediterranean spices. Not going to lie, I did raid my bestie’s office desk drawers to see if she had any crackers but she didn’t. It is best she didn’t.

I got really hungry around 3pm and heated up my chicken and roasted veggies. This was such a delicious meal and had a coworker compliment how good it looked and smelled. The veggies were a sweet potato with brussels sprouts and kale with some bacon. While I was heating up my meal our boss was kind enough to buy the team Starbucks. I’m on an iced green tea latte kick right now even though our office was experiencing freezing temps after the heater went out.

For dinner tonight I grabbed a Bolthouse Daily Greens juice and had a chicken thigh after seeing how small the last one was that was left after Little Man requested his chicken be used for tacos and a sandwich for lunch the next day.

Get Fit by Summer Day 4Worked kicked my butt tonight and I tucked in early.

Today I drank 50.7 oz of water (3 bottles).

Friday January 19th, 2018 – 153 days to go until Summer

Like I said yesterday, work kicked my butt. I was so tired this morning I slept through every alarm I set from 4am until 6:45am. This literally leaves me with no time to get ready for the day but that means I sacrifice hair and makeup. So grateful I don’t work with the public and I don’t really care what my coworkers think. Before work I stopped at Starbucks and grabbed a hot latte. I needed something to help wake me up.

A coworker came and grabbed me at 10am and invited me to the break room with her. I hadn’t ate breakfast yet and decided to purchase two hard-boiled eggs from our work “pantry” and served them up with a 1/4 cup of raw almonds I brought from home.

Lunch at noon was a prepackaged Caesar salad that was coming down to the last of its days and a lot of the lettuce had to be picked out of it since the leaves were brown. I also left off the cheese.

At 2:30pm I needed a snack and washed my berries. I got complimented on doing a great job with my healthy choice.

I got to walk a dog this evening for some extra money. Walks are supposed to be 30 minutes long. It was raining and cold. I had to cut the walk short five minutes because the rain had really started to pick up. Thankfully the owner is understanding and pays me for the full 30 minutes.

Once home I made a cup of coffee and logged back onto work. I didn’t have much that I had to catch up on thankfully. While working though I did crave a BBQ baked potato. It still sounds good and I’m really not in the mood to cook or for anything cold like the smoothie I had planned for my next meal. Maybe that will change once I get hungry and if I’m warmed up by then.

It’s 7:30pm and we just saw a commercial for Applebee’s for chicken tenders and ribs. Ugh. I don’t want to cook but I need to stick to the script and make healthy choices. Little Man suggested we should go there for dinner. I grabbed a Bolthouse Daily Greens juice instead.

Get Fit by Summer Day 5

Today I drank 67.6 oz of water (4 bottles).

Saturday January 20th, 2018 – 152 days to go until Summer

My stupid ass scheduled my hair appointment for 8am on a day when I should be sleeping in. I struggled to get out of bed and just barely made it to my appointment on time. I was so tired my eyes were bloodshot. I am so happy to get my gray hairs covered up and fresh washed salon hair. After the appointment I was so hungry but wanted to stop at Ulta first to pick up some new beauty products. I needed setting spray, replacement mascaras, and a new eye palette. I purchased my holy grail mascara, Lancome’s Grandiose Mascara and also got Buxom’s Lash Mascara, Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray and Too Faced Sweet Peach Eye Palette. I cannot wait to try these products tomorrow when I get ready for my day.

I was so hungry by the time I made it home around 11am and decided on having lunch out at Genghis Grill. I knew I could load a bowl up with protein and veggies. Last minute decided on brown rice instead of a cabbage base. At least I didn’t select the udon noodles or white rice. Lunch was so satisfying and I only ate half of my bowl so now I have leftovers for dinner.

After lunch I ran out to purchase a new day planner and picked up Starbucks.

While watching my favorite beauty vlogger she made some hot cocoa and I was a copycat and made a mug as well. It’s a satisfying sweet treat.

Finally felt rested enough to tackle a workout and followed this workout from the blog, A Southern Drawl. Loved this workout!

Legs {Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves}

  • Bulgarian Split Lunges: 10 reps each leg, 3 sets
  • Sumo Squats {with 10 lb kettlebell lowering it to the floor}: 20 reps, 3 sets
  • Abductor Extensions with 5 lb ankle weights: 20 reps each leg, 5 sets
  • Kickbacks using 5 lb ankle weights: 15 reps each leg, 5 sets

I was so hungry after my workout so I reheated my lunch leftovers. Yummy!

7:30pm I needed a snack and grabbed a 1/4 cup of pistachios.

Get Fit by Summer Day 6

It was bedtime at 9pm. It’s the weekend and I should be turnin’ it up, instead I’m being an old lady and getting sleep instead.

Today I drank 50.7 oz of water (3 bottles).

WEEK 1 RESULTS:

I LOST 6 LBS!!

STARTING WEIGHT: 155.1 LBS

CURRENT WEIGHT: 149.1 LBS

CURRENT BODYFAT: 36.4%

 

 

 

 

 

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Fit Food… Java Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

Finally a protein smoothie I loved the taste of. Peanut butter and banana are great ingredients for masking the taste of protein powders. This smoothie has cold brew coffee in it which was perfect for a midday pick me up and enjoyed as a pre-workout. It was very filling and gave me lots of energy to push through my workout.

This smoothie tasted more like a milkshake making it a great go to for satisfying your sweet tooth.

I recently learned that peanuts are one of the most heavily sprayed crops so make sure you chose peanut butter that is made up of only peanuts. Look for organic!

Java Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

Java Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie

Makes 1 Serving

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 cup Chameleon Cold Brew Pecan Coffee
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Protein Powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 date, pitted
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

And Action:

Liquify all ingredients in the blender until smooth. Enjoy!

Fit Food… Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes

Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes

These Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes are not your traditional fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Instead these are a healthier version of the breakfast favorite. I’m still not the biggest fan of these alternative pancakes because I don’t necessarily enjoy the taste of most protein powders. However, the addition of banana and blueberries has masked the taste enough to make it palatable.

This recipe is easy to whip up and makes for an easy breakfast and one you can take with you and reheat later if needed. These pancakes held me over until lunchtime which is a big plus.

Blueberry Banana Protein Pancakes

Makes 1 Serving (2 Pancakes)

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • small handful of blueberries

And Action:

Spray a small nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray over medium heat.

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Pour half of the mixture in the skillet and cook pancake for 3 minutes on each side. Enjoy!

 

Between the Covers… Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect, was like reading pages out of my own diary with talk of moving away from a life of exhaustion, comparison, and competition and moving toward meaning, connection, and unconditional love.

I’m an admitted workaholic people pleaser. I pride myself in being an “all in” kinda girl going hard for those who I deem to be worthy of getting the best of me. That doesn’t mean those individuals may be deserving of what that means to get the best of me. I’ve had some hard lessons over the years about individuals who will use me to get what they want. I watched my savings account get sucked dry, I put in effort with nothing in return, I experienced emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and a handful of other awful experiences as well.

I’ve gotten better about ridding my life of toxic people and ending relationships that don’t serve purpose in my life.

The most powerful message from the book I got was that love is not calculated. It’s not something that can be bought, earned, or hustled for. It’s discovered in the act of being exactly who you are.

One thing I am still a work in progress with is with my work schedule. Work is nonnegotiable. I need my job so my boss will always get the best of me, however, that is where I experience the most burn out. I really don’t know how to slow down.

I’ve been with the company I’m presently at for six years working my way to where I am now by putting in extra hours before and after the 9 to 5’ers and taking on any extra project that was thrown my way. I’ve been told by upper management, so this isn’t just me bragging, how well I do my job setting the standard for excellence and efficiency. I pride myself in my work ethic, but!!!, I’m effin’ tired all the time.

My competitive nature has me trying to beat the bar I set for myself the day before every day but I can’t be outdone anymore. I’ve reached my max capacity.

My days off are spent playing catch up on sleep. My body is telling me I need a break.

Completely out of character but it was like God was calling a cosmic timeout on my life. In these last two months I started putting time down on our work calendar sporadically and mostly in the final hour of a shift to take off the next day and in the middle of the work week. PTO (paid time off) was laced all over that calendar with my name on it and my PTO balance went from two plus weeks worth of time off to having a little over a week’s worth.

Of course my boss and coworkers noticed and they expressed concern about my whereabouts because it wasn’t what they’ve been used to all of these years. I went from losing vacation time at the end of the year to using it up. I had trained an entire group of people that I was reliable and would never say “enough is enough”.

Once I start taking time off from work that feel good mood becomes addicting and I want more of it. This is why work has to be a nonnegotiable for me. I have to suck it up, give it my all, and push through the exhaustion until the weekend.

Naps are like my favorite thing ever now.

Some work nights I’m racing to Little Man’s school to get him picked up in time just to get home to race into the home office to clean up any emails or work that wasn’t completed “in time”. I’ll have guilt that Little Man is left in the house to entertain himself while I pound away at the keyboard trying to make myself feel better when I see him playing on his iPad and grabbing a handful of goldfish crackers for snack. “He’s enjoying things he loves”, I tell myself this to make me feel better. I never feel better until the first and fifteenth of the month when that automatic deposit into my bank account hits from that work paycheck. A little reminder to keep pushing. “I’m doing this for us.”

Sadly, I understand I’m really cashing a reality check and doing nothing about it.

In trying to maintain a home-work-life balance one thing I have successfully done is sitting down to a mostly home cooked dinner Monday through Friday with Little Man and giving him undivided attention. He thrives during this hour or so giving me a minute by minute play-by-play of his day and sometimes it comes in the form of a show as my little actor  gets up from the table to re-enact a scene from his day. I sit at that table for as long of a time as he’s willing to give me. This is our time to make a meaningful connection with each other.

I want to create more opportunities for these connections.

I’m putting this in writing here to say that I’m restarting my business. No further details will be given about the nature of the business or what step in the process I am in. Just know. I’m doing it.

Why was it mentioned then?

During my mental breakdown last month I had an epiphany that I can create an even better home-work-life balance for myself as I once had when I was a small business owner. I pretty much had a blank calendar and a bank account that allowed me to fill in my days as I pleased. That is the life I want to create for myself again and to no longer be strung out on the drug of work.

IMG_6120

Little Man is the only person who without question deserves the best of me.

I gave my son a day of “yes”. He wasn’t aware I was doing it but I made it a point to say “yes” to everything he wanted and gave him undivided attention when he spoke. He ate apple pie and had hot chocolate for breakfast, I agreed to let him run in the sprinklers in 50 degree weather but he quickly made the right call to give up that idea when he realized how cold it was, he got to sit on the floor in the living room to eat his lunch getting crumbs everywhere, had me watching an hour-long compilation video of sports mascots, got me breaking my Whole30 diet to eat a Chicago style deep dish pizza, and had no set bedtime that evening.

The smiles on both of our faces were genuine and the happiness we felt was restoring. We both need me to slow down and be present over perfect more often than not.

So ask yourself…

  1. What would you do if you had a blank calendar and a bank account as full as you wanted? and,
  2. What makes you say “must be nice”?

Answer these questions honestly and then come up with an action plan to make those wants possible.

 

 

Fit Food… Chicken Parmesan Casserole

If you are looking for a kid friendly dinner that comes together super quick and bakes up in under 30 minutes then look no further. This Chicken Parmesan Casserole was a big hit with Little Man. He requested a second serving and also wanted more the following night for dinner.

If you are following a low carb diet feel free to leave the pasta out and serve the chicken over zucchini or other veggies instead. It’s delicious on it’s own.

This casserole became an instant family favorite and new comfort food.

Next time I’m going to serve this with a caesar salad. Already looking forward to making this one again.

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Makes 8 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 lb cooked chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 (28 oz) jar marinara
  • 4 cups cooked bowtie pasta
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • handful of fresh parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

And Action:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8×8 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Toss the chicken, noodles, and marinara in the casserole dish until incorporated. Top with both cheeses until the top is covered.
In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the seasoned breadcrumbs on top.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden on the top and bubbling on the sides. Enjoy!
Freezer Meal:
 
Put the casserole together following the steps above and freeze before baking. Make sure the casserole dish is freezable.
When ready to bake, thaw in the freezer overnight, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Fit Food… Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

This was not a meal that I made for myself. I cannot stand ricotta cheese in lasagna. I don’t know what it is about it that I don’t like but I always give it a try hoping my taste buds have changed. Nope, still not a ricotta cheese fan.
I had worked a 13+ hour day and took a break to make these Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups for dinner. What an ambitious dinner for a work night and the number of dishes dirtied was a sink full. Ugh! Save this recipe for a special Sunday supper unless you don’t mind staying up late doing dishes.

This made a lot of leftovers so I made to-go containers for three of best girlfriends and received rave reviews. One of them stated this meal made me “wifey material”. If that’s the case I hope my future husband loves lasagna.

The best part of these lasagna roll ups is that they are perfectly portioned lasagnas. I know that the serving size suggests two rolls, however, everyone of my friends said that one was more than plenty. Serve with a garden salad, garlic bread, and viola! Dinner is served.

Feel free to switch up the protein and go for spicy Italian sausage or instead of the spices listed below use basil pesto, add mushrooms, and sauteed onions… the possibilities are endless.

Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

Makes 8 Servings (2 Roll Ups per Serving)

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 (16 oz) box lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese, divided (separate out one cup)
  • 1 (15 oz) container ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 (28 oz) jars marinara sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced

And Action:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl mix together mozzarella cheese (reserving one cup), ricotta, egg, garlic, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, spinach, chicken, and one cup Parmesan cheese.
Spread a thin layer of sauce on bottom of 9 x 13-inch pan.
Lay out noodles on a baking sheet and spread two generous sized ice cream scoops per noodle then add one ice cream scoop worth of sauce.
Roll the noodle up and place seam side down in the pan. Repeat for the remaining noodles.
Top entire casserole with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese.
Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Fit Food… Breakfast Casserole Muffins

I place an importance on making sure Little Man heads off to school every morning with something in his belly even if it’s just a nibble of something if he’s really not that hungry. Rare when that happens. His go to breakfast is peanut butter toast or cereal (not the sugary kids kind either). I offer to make him other items but he usually will pass and stick with his usual.
I’m always trying to get Little Man to branch out and try new things so I figured I would give these Breakfast Casserole Muffins a try and not give him any other option for breakfast. Well well well… that plan worked because he loved these.

My only complaint is that there was too much bread in our muffins and not enough of the other yummies. Next time around I will clean out the fridge adding any meats and veggies that need to be used up and might make them healthier by omitting the egg yolks and replacing the bread with some cooked potatoes at the bottom of the tin cups.

We had plenty of leftovers for breakfast for the week. Such a time saver on rushed work and school mornings.

Breakfast Casserole Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

Stars of the Show:
  • 3-4 slices whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
  • 4 slices deli ham, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • dried parsley

And Action:

 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tin well.
Fill muffin tins about 1/2 way with the bread.
Sprinkle ham and egg evenly in each tin.
Whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, and ground pepper.
Pour the egg mixture evenly in each tin.
Sprinkle dried parsley to taste on each top.
Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked through the middle. Enjoy! Preferably with some hot sauce like Cholula. It kicked this up a notch.
Freezer Meal:
 
Bake according to the directions above and then cool completely. Place in a single layer in a freezer container or bag. Seal well, squeezing out excess air, and freeze.
To reheat, wrap a muffin in a moist paper towel and microwave for 30 second increments until heated through. Or thaw in the fridge and warm in the microwave.

Fit Food… Chicken with Tomatoes and Thyme

Sunday dinners don’t always have to be something extravagant. I want to be able to enjoy my last day off before the work week and not be in the kitchen the majority of the day.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Thyme

This recipe for Chicken with Tomatoes and Thyme takes 10 minutes to prep and the oven does the rest of the work taking about 50 minutes to cook.

The flavors of Summer in one pan on a cold winter’s night result in a satisfying dish. With temps currently dipping below 30 degrees here in Houston I am definitely dreaming of those hot summer nights again.

If I wasn’t currently on a round of Whole30 I would have enjoyed a glass of two of wine while this was cooking and to go with dinner. The chicken and tomatoes produce a lot of juice which would be perfect with some crusty garlic bread. Damn you Whole30!

Tasty but simple this is perfect to serve for guests and makes plenty of leftovers.

Chicken with Tomatoes and Thyme

Makes 4 Servings

Stars of the Show:
  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • dried thyme, to taste
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

And Action:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine tomatoes and their liquid, lemon, thyme, and capers.

Season the chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Add tomato mixture and chicken into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
Roast until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, about 50 minutes. Enjoy!
Freezer Meal: 
 
In a small bowl, combine tomatoes and their liquid, lemon, thyme, and capers.
Season the chicken with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.
Divide into 4 1-quart resealable plastic freezer bags putting one thigh and one drumstick into each bag. Freeze up to 3 months until ready to cook.
Thaw overnight.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Add tomato mixture and chicken into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.
Roast until chicken is golden brown and cooked through, about 50 minutes. Enjoy!

Fit Food… Homemade Taco Seasoning

This is the perfect mix of spices to season ground beef or turkey for Little Man’s favorite night of the week, Taco Tuesday.

It’s also one of my favorite dinner nights because what is easier than browning some meat and dumping some spices on it? Seriously nothing.

This recipe produces a mild heat. If you want to add some heat to this seasoning add some cayenne pepper or red chili flakes.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Makes approx. 1/4 cup of seasoning for 1 lb. of ground meat

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

And Action:

Mix all spices together. Enjoy!

 

Fit Food… Korean Stir-Fry Baked Potato

Potatoes have tons of potassium, fiber, Vitamin C, and magnesium. They are also the perfect canvas for creativity when it comes to toppings other than cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives.

After purchasing a jar of kimchi for some fries to recreate a food truck find I needed another way to use it up and get more of kimchi’s gut-friendly probiotic benefits from the fermentation process.

Korean Stir-Fry Baked Potato

Rather than greasy french fries I decided on a baked potato instead and mimicking some of those same kimchi fries ingredients. Hello Korean Stir-Fry Baked Potato!!!

The egg and potato made for an unexpectedly decadent dinner and left me satisfyingly filled for the remainder of the evening.

Korean Stir-Fry Baked Potato

Makes 1 Serving

Stars of the Show:

  • 1 russet potato, washed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  • sesame oil, to taste
  • toasted sesame seeds, to taste

And Action:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick the potato with a fork and microwave it on high for 5 minutes. Transfer the potato to a sheet pan and drizzle it with olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft.

In a skillet over medium heat warm the tsp of olive oil. Crack the egg into the pan and cook until the whites are opaque but yolk is to your desired doneness. I don’t mind a runny yolk. While the egg cooks I recommend using the other half of the skillet to warm up the kimchi. Divide the potato in half mashing it up a little bit with a fork and top with kimchi, the egg, a light drizzle of sesame oil, and a shake or two of toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!