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Recent Eats and Sneaking Veggies into Mac and Cheese

Hey guys, what’s happenin’?

We have been enjoying some nice weather over here (sorry East coast). By “nice” I mean like, 25 and sunny. Yay! It’s like, basically spring here.

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Do you wanna build a snowmaaaaaan? Name that movie!

Anyway, let’s talk about food.

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Food understands me.

 

I think it’s fun to see what other people eat throughout their day. Is that weird? It can’t possibly be weird given the popularity of sharing food pics on instagram and every other mode of social media. I personally think it’s fun because it gives me fresh ideas. I’m sure we all find ourselves in “food ruts,”so gaining food inspiration from others is a great way to break out of the rut.

In the spirit of sharing meals, I thought I’d share some of my recent ones today! First up: breakfast!

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Those Flap Jacked Mighty Muffins! I love ’em. I’m eating one right now. They aren’t the cheapest breakfast on the planet, but I love the taste AND the stats: 20 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, about 220 cals. Not too shabby. They’re great on days when I’m kind of in a hurry (they’re ready in 35 seconds!).

Normally, we eat eggs for breakfast, specifically scrambled eggs with spinach. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly cray-cray, I add cottage cheese.bfast1

My scrambled eggs, spinach, and cottage cheese!

The cottage cheese thing sounded a little funky at first, but if you add it while your eggs are cooking, it melts a bit and is yummmmy. That being said, my husband doesn’t like it, so may not be for everyone. I love that adds even more lean protein to the eggies. Can’t go wrong with that.

On to lunch!

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This obviously could have been breakfast, but it was lunch on Saturday: scrambled eggs with honey smoked salmon on top of some spinach (with sriracha, duh).  I bought this honey smoked salmon from Costco and it is amazing. I see it at the regular grocery store too so I think it’s sold most places.

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Shredded Salsa Verde Chicken! Super easy and versatile too. I just throw some frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker and cover it with a jar of salsa verde. I cook it for about 6-8, then shred and let cook a little longer. You could do this too with regular salsa or something like Rotel-whatever your heart desires!

This is great to have in the fridge throughout the week! I usually eat it on a salad with black beans, corn, cilantro, cheese, and salsa. My husband loves to make quesadillas with it so you can use it in different ways.

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Lightened up chicken salad! I love this stuff. I especially love throwing some Enlightened Roasted Broad Beans on top-they’re sooo good!

Snacks!

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Pink lady apple with organic, natural peanut butter. So simple and so good. It’s almost a “throwback” kind of snack because it’s so easy I sort of forget about it, but I’m bringing it back.

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I try to drink a green smoothie every day (at least lately). This baby was spinach, frozen banana, cottage cheese, peanut butter powder, some ice, water, and protein powder.

Today, I made a green smoothie with frozen banana, spinach, little cucumber, ginger, cherries, cottage cheese, and protein powder. As you can see, I’m on a bit of a cottage cheese kick.

I blend the smoothie up before adding the protein powder so I can give some to my kids. These little ones need all the fiber they can get (see below) so I think the green smoothies are a good way to eat their greens.

Dinner:

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Ribye baby! We rarely eat beef so this was sort of a treat. It was a delicious treat too. I ate the whole damn thing too.  We served it up with some roasted red potatoes and mashed cauliflower.

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Homemade pizza night!

I’ve made pizza-crust and all- twice in the last month.  It’s actually pretty easy, just need to make sure you have a decent chunk of time. It’s pretty amazing too (duh).  I made it with whole wheat flour and added spinach so that means it’s healthy :).

Dessert:

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This is now my nightly dessert: cottage cheese, banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, and a little honey. I love it!

 

On to the Mac and Cheese!

So, both our kids have suffered from constipation. My three year old is actually much better than she used to be. It only effects her every once and a while now (usually when we’re traveling). My one year old, on the other hand, struggles with this daily.

I feel like the kids eat a pretty good diet. It’s certainly not perfect, but I get some healthy foods in there AND (I think) plenty of fluids. It is the worst thing ever though to see that baby struggle with this and then cry when she finally goes. I really want to help her.

My 3 year old loves her mac and cheese so tonight, I decided to make some of the usual but ADD something that is a little more nutrient dense: butternut squash!

I happened to have a bag of frozen butternut squash in the freezer so I microwaved that up, then pureed it in the blender.

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I added almost 1/2 cup of squash to the mac and cheese then served it up to the kiddos!

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You can definitely taste the squash-so heads up. My advice would be to slowly add some and taste along the way. If the taste will turn off your kids, maybe add a little less. If they won’t notice, add all of it!

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I really want to start thinking of other ways to sneak in vegetables. I give the kids smoothies each day too so they get good veggies/fruit there. For breakfast, I’ve recently been giving them oatmeal with raisins or banana.

 

Any suggestions on ways to get kiddos to eat more veggies? I’m also taking advice on dealing with baby/toddler constipation! 🙂 Thanks friends! Happy Hump Day!

I Made Kombucha!

I made it…and it actually tastes great.

I’m surprised because usually it takes me a solid 3 times before I succeed at making just about anything.

I actually thought for sure that I blew this. My ‘bucha started growing something white on top and I thought it was mold. Turns out, it was another scoby. I guess I should have figured as much, but I was thinking the baby scoby grew underneath the surface of the kombucha and only mold grew on top. No mold here though! Win!

Let’s start from the beginning: I bought a little kombucha kit from a local health food store (Natural Grocers-I think they’re around Colorado, not sure where else). It came with a scoby in a little plastic bag and some black tea bags. The only thing I needed to provide was the sugar, container for brewing, and a towel to cover the brewing container.

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Long story short, it sat in my pantry for like, 5 months and I continued to buy store bought bottles of kombucha. My favorite, GT’s, is delicious by the way. Delicious, but expensive. They usually range somewhere between $2.65-3 something. So, they add up.

Finally, for some reason, I decided to go for it. I ordered a 1-gallon USDA Fermentation Glass Jar from Amazon (about 10 bucks) and some Chef’s Star CASE OF 6 – 16 oz. EASY CAP Beer Bottles – CLEAR to get started. Looking back, I wish I would have just kept the glass GT’s bottles and used them to bottle up the ‘bucha but it slipped my mind. So, if you have glass bottles from old drinks, keep those around for bottling yours (if you brew it).

Then I got started. It was really pretty easy. I brewed the tea bags in a stock pot then once it started boiling, turned the heat off and let it sit until the tea was room temperature.

Once it was, I added the sugar and mixed until it dissolved. Then, I poured the tea into my gallon jar and added the scoby. I covered the jar with a breathable kitchen towel and fastened it with a rubber band.

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Next comes the most complicated part…at least for me. So, apparently, kombucha should brew for like, 15-30 days depending on your taste. Before it ferments, it tastes like sweet tea. Somewhere after 15-30 days, it should taste more like kombucha. If you let it ferment longer, the less sweet it will be.

The key to fermentation though, is the correct temperature. I started my jar off in our garage because it is heated and generally dark . I stuck it next to our water heater. After 15 days, I tried it, and it tasted very sweet to me. We let it ferment for another 10 days. I tried it again and it was still very sweet. So, I moved it upstairs onto the floor (it is heated).

It did grow a scoby (as you can see), but was pretty sweet.

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After another 5 days, there was no difference. I wasn’t getting the temperature quite warm enough. Luckily, my husband had a heating pad to start growing seedling plants on. So, I took the kombucha back downstairs, placed it on the heating pad, and covered it with a box that I poked holes in. So, now it was definitely warming up more AND was consistently staying in the dark. Finally, my kombucha was ready!

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I think we grew like, 3 scoby’s (unless I’m wrong..I’m a beginner).

So, I think overall it took like 35 or so for this batch. Once it was done, I bottled it up in the bottles I bought and actually let the bottles sit out for a few more days. Apparently, doing so adds more carbonation.

As for the scoby: we took the new scoby and 2 cups of the new kombucha and placed it in the fridge to use for the next batch. We tossed the other scoby’s because I didn’t really know what to do with them. Looking back, I wish I would have kept them because I could brew more.

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As we speak I have my second batch brewing downstairs. I can already see the new scoby growing on top! Yay!

My husband was really curious about this scoby business. I have to say, it’s pretty bizarre. He actually tried taking a bite out of it (because he’s disgusting) and it was like pure rubber. It’s funny we just saw on Bizarre Foods (anyone else watch that?) that some guy sliced up a scoby and fried it! Ha. I guess anything is good fried.

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I’m pretty excited about this little kombucha experiment. I’d love to add some pureed fruit to my next batch.

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Yessssss to homemade kombucha!!

 

Have you ever made kombucha? Any fun flavor variations?

HIIT Home Workout

I got another home workout for you guys!

Im posting this on my iPad, so forgive any typos or weirdness. We are sitting in a hotel in Denver headed to the airport in a couple of hours. We left the night before because apparently we are supposed to get a major snowstorm today up in the high country so the highway is probably no Bueno.

Hotels are basically torture, by the way, with little kids. Our three year has the hardest time sleeping in these places. I’m not sure if the new place excites her or having her parents soooo close in proximity is distracting, but it’s rough. Sleep is nonexistent. Ugh.

Anyway, enough complaining! We are headed to Phoenix and I am excited for some nice weather! I’m hoping to get outside and do some running and maybe family mountain hikes too!

I do have another quick, Bodyweight workout though for those busy days I (or you) can’t get outside. Like I said, it’s only Bodyweight so no equipment necessary. You’ll just need a timer!

Perform the first move for 1 minute, then move onto 30 seconds of the cardio move. You can perform the entire thing 1 to 3 times.

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Just a few moves…but should still burn! Performing anything for a minute is usually pretty tough.

Let me know if you try it! Merry Christmas and happy travels to you all!

10 Minute Bodyweight Workout

If you’re like me, you’re traveling for Christmas. This usually means you’re out of your element and away from your typical workout routine. But don’t you worry, bodyweight workout routines to the rescue!

I have two goals for our little Christmas vacation: workout each day AND drink a green smoothie.

We all know Christmas time is filled with treats. Candy, cakes, booze-you name it! It is the most wonderful time of year, after all. So, I’m not gonna worry too much about that. It is what it is. Instead, I’m going to focus on adding things to my holiday season: workouts and smoothies.

The workouts are just a great way to stay on track. Getting a good workout in tends to spill over into other parts of your day like food choices and overall mood.

The green smoothies are an awesome way to get some greens in! They taste great (if made correctly), and ensure you’re getting some good vitamins and nutrients during a time filled with fluff food. So, those are my goals!

Let’s start off the season with a home workout! You don’t need any weights…just your bod.

This could be done once-so it would only be ten minutes- or you could go through it a total of 3 times for a solid 30 minute workout. All you need to do is go through each move for 1 minute, then move onto the next.

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Here are a few of the moves:

Side Plank with Rotation:

So, you’re starting in side plank. Next, rotate your torso and arm under the side of your body so you’re twisting, then back into starting position.

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Curtsy Lunge with Leg Lift:

Lunge your right foot behind and to the side of your left food (that’s your curtsy). When you bring that right foot back to starting, swing it out to your side performing your lateral leg lift.

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Squat Thrusts

So, first start in a plank position, then jump legs up and in, and jump back out into plank position.

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Single Leg Bridge

Start with right foot planted on the ground and lift your left leg in the air. Next, bridge hips up into the air, squeezing your glutes, then lower.

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It’ll burn, I promise! I’ll try to post a few more workouts before Christmas!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Do you workout when you’re away for the holiday’s? 

7 Natural Cold Remedies

My family has officially NOT been sick for about a week and a half. I swear since the beginning of November, the cold’s have been nonstop. Driving me nuts up in here. I kind of hit a point where I am sick of everyone being sick. I desperately want to keep the bugs OUT of this house or it’s going to be a long, painful winter.

I understand colds and viruses are part of life…especially life with kids. I am absolutely not keeping my kids in a bubble here at home to protect them from colds, but if I can help prevent those colds with home remedies, I’m all about that!

I absolutely believe in Western medicine, but I do believe home/natural remedies have their place too. Some might be a load of hooey, but these listed out today were all recommended by friends, so they’ve obviously been beneficial to some!

I wanted to kind of take a survey of sorts on what people’s favorite remedies for colds were, so I posted this question on Facebook:

I think I may have the flu right now so I’m in desperate need of some health remedies. Maybe elderberry syrup is in my future? Anyone have success with natural immune boosting remedies? Winter sickness be damned!

These were some of the recommendations and WHY they are being used:

Garlic

Yep, good old RAW garlic. Not only will this (potentially) kick your cold, it will also push away all intimate human interactions because your breath will be unbearable :).

Why Garlic?

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Garlic is basically a superfood. Turns out, in its raw form, garlic is an antioxidant with antimicrobial, antiviral, and even antibiotic properties (source). Garlic also happens to be very high in Vitamin C, a nutrient notorious for boosting immunity.

Sadly, cooked garlic does not have the same effects on the immune system. Cooking garlic destroys some of its’ important enzymes and medicinal properties (source).

How do you consume raw garlic?

Well, you could just stick a clove in your mouth and chew it. That sounds all around awful though. Instead, you could mince the garlic up, maybe spread it on some toast or a cracker, you could also drop it into a glass of water and drink up! Some people throw a clove into green smoothies too. That sounds disgusting, but if it were a green smoothie, that could be one helluva superfood smoothie!

Elderberry Syrup

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Elderberry syrup is one I’ve heard/read about before. The Elderberries have been used for years to make a natural medicine widely used for the flu in particular. Besides fighting flu, lots of people take a shot of the syrup every day (especially during winter) to keep the cold/flu at bay.

Why Elderberry Syrup?

Elderberries are another food that are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. They also contain bioflavonoids which can help increase antioxidant levels, which in turn decrease damage to cell walls (source).

People that come down with the flu may want to grab some Elderberry syrup too. There have actually been studies that show patients taking Elderberry syrup, on average, decreased their symptoms of the flu by 4 days. Pretty incredible!

How to take Elderberry Syrup:

You can buy Elderberry syrup online (I bought some off Amazon) or check in your local health food store.

You can also make your own, which someday I would like to do. I bought it this time around because I was sick AND the two kids were sick so, I wasn’t really up for playing around in the kitchen. The Wellness Mama has a recipe up as well as Mommypotamus.

In general, if you’re giving the syrup to you’re kids, the recommended amount is about 1 teaspoon a day (possibly less depending on their age). Adults can take 1 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon a day.

Oil of Oregano/Essential Oils

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Okay, so Oil of Oregano is up first. I’ve heard Oil of Oregano thrown around the “health sphere” a couple of times. I mostly hear good things, but I’ve also read a few “bewares.” It is an essential oil, so just do your homework when it comes to consuming essential oils. In general, it sounds like most are safe and beneficial if you’re using them properly, but just be sure you’re using them in the correct way and be careful with children.

Why Oil of Oregano?

Apparently, Oil of Oregano contains a compound called carvacrol which can break through cell membranes that are protecting bacteria from the immune system (source). Oil of Oregano is known for having anti-fungal properties so some people take it for GI issues.

How do you take Oil of Oregano?

Like many other essential oils, you can take it topically when it’s diluted with a carrier oil (like coconut oil for example). You can also diffuse it into the air using an E.O. (essential oil) diffusor. Diffusing it may be your best option if you’re having respiratory issues.

A few other essential oils recommended for colds are: tea tree oil (fights congestion), pine oil (helps clear nasal passages), lavender (antiseptic and antimicrobial properties), peppermint oil (antiseptic/anti-viral properties), and Thieves, a blend of oils, that is thought to have anti-viral, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties.

There are a number of other oils too. Like I said, do your research when it comes to essential oils (<—I am in no way an expert on them).

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

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First and foremost: what is fermented cod liver oil?

Fermented cod liver oil is literally when cod livers are fermented. This process allows the beneficial fat soluble vitamins and oils to separate from the liver without being damaged (source). Those vitamins include Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and Omega-3’s.

Why fermented cod liver oil?

In my opinion, cod liver oil is especially beneficial during cold/flu season because of its’ Vitamin A content. Vitamin A is crucial because it helps ensure the body’s mucous membranes are working properly (one of the first line’s of defense). Vitamin A also assists in the development of white blood cells which attack a virus once its’ entered the body (source).

How do you take fermented cod liver oil?

Fermented cod liver oil comes in pill form but also as a liquid. You can just take it right off the spoon (I’ve never tried it so I don’t know how it tastes..probably not great). I see that they do sell flavored FCLO so I suppose you could try one of those.

Other than that, you could probably add it to things like a smoothie, in your yogurt, maybe even oatmeal?

I’ve seen a few things recently on a controversy surrounding fermented cod liver oil. That some brands may be somewhat of a fraud…whether or not they are, I have no idea.  Take this with a grain of salt and do your own research. 

Probiotics

Belly buggies!

Why probiotics?

Probiotics are sort of interesting because there’s a million different strands (probably more actually). I did read there was a study done on college students (sleep deprived, generally gross people) and one group was given certain strains of probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) and Bifidobacterium animalis (BB-12)). The control group was given these probiotics for 12 weeks. Both groups got sick around the same time, but the controlled group missed only 15 days of school on average as opposed to the other group who missed 34. Also, the cold seemed to have disappeared 2 days sooner for the control group AND symptoms were less severe (source). Apparently, probiotics appear to lessen the inflammatory response sent out by your immune system.

Again, there are TONS of strands of probiotics, so try looking for one’s that contain LGG and BB-12 for cold busting during winter month’s.

How do you take probiotics? 

Depending on the probiotic type, you can find probiotics in pill form but also in powder. If they’re powder, you can usually just add them to water and it’ll dissolve easily.

Apple Cider Vinegar

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People love apple cider vinegar for a million different reasons. We will focus on why it may keep the doctor away.

Why apple cider vinegar?

Apparently, ACV helps to alkalinize the body. Alkalinizing the body helps to kill bacteria and viruses (source). That environment is much less appealing to bacteria.

How do you drink ACV?

Well, you can drink it straight up! Or, you can add it to water to lessen the pain a little. You can also add it to hot teas (might feel good if you’re already feeling sick) or make salad dressing with it.

Bonus Round:

Onions on the Feet

Why onions?

So, it sounds like this stems from Chinese Medicine. The thinking is this: the bottom of your feet provide direct access to organs in the body. According to Healthy Wild and Free:

“Onions and garlic are known air purifiers and when applied to the skin topically they kill germs and bacteria but also the phosphoric acid (the substance from onions that makes you cry when you cut them open) enters the bloodstream it helps to purify the blood and kill any bacteria or germs that may be festering waiting to give you the flu.”

Interesting, right? It sounds a little out there, but I have a friend who recommended it AND have seen it on numerous natural health sites. It might be worth trying?

How to use the onions:

From what I read, the easiest way to do this is to cut onion slices (red or white), place them on the bottom of your foot, cover with a sock, then go to bed! Say bye bye toxins!

 

Some different recommendations here but they all might be worth a shot.

*Liposomal Vitamin C was also mentioned in my comments. I read a little about them but just didn’t feel like I understood enough to talk about it on here. Anyone use it and want to educate me? 🙂

 

So, you tell me…any natural remedies you recommend for fighting a cold or the flu?

 

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Not even a holistic doc. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new health regimen **

 

 

Big Slice Apple’s Review and *Giveaway*

**New snack alert**

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I think I’ve mentioned, probably millions of times, that I’m constantly looking for healthy, on-the-go, snacks for me and my babes.  The struggle I come across is finding snacks that are minimally processed, healthy, easy to eat in the car, but not too messy. Yes, lots of requirements. I might live in a dream world but why not have high expectations?

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Applesauce pouches are one of our go-to snacks. They are easy, relatively clean, and relatively healthy. I don’t eat them too often though because…I guess they’re a little boring? And that’s what I love about Big Slice: so much variety!

 

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Big Slice Apple’s

Big Slice is kind of a more sophisticated take on traditional applesauce. Applesauce is great, but Big Slice takes it to the next level. Big Slice uses non-GMO apple slices (like, actual apple slices) with pure whole fruits and superfoods like Blueberry Pomegranate, Banana Mango and Hemp Seed, and Raspberry Hibiscus and Green Coffee Extract (just to name a few).

The apple’s are slow cooked (kettle, to be exact) so they’re delicious, juicy, AND chunky. All the yummy things! A few important things to note…Big Slice apples are:

  • Not made with artificial ingredients
  • Made (and sweetened) with real fruit and superfoods
  • Non-GMO (which is awesome). ((Side note: Pineapple Passion Fruit is excluded from this))
  • Naturally fat free
  • Vegan
  • NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
  • 100% USA grown apples..which is really great!
  • All around 100 calories
  • Easy to transport AND eat out of…they come in a nice little pouch.

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They also come in a bazillion different flavors. They break down the flavors by category: Pure, Fit, and Luxe.

The Pure line contains flavors like natural (yep, just apples), Cherry Vanilla (my fave), and Blueberry Pomegranate. The Pure line is made to be simple, yet delicious. Just a light, healthy snack.

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Next up is Fit. The flavors in the Fit category promote energy, power, balance, and beauty. A few flavors are Banana Mango and Hemp Seed (there’s your superfood), Pineapple Passion Fruit and Fiber, and Raspberry Hibiscus and Green Coffee Extract. These pouches are great as a post-workout snack..or even pre-workout!

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Finally, they have the Luxe category. The idea behind this line is to provide flavors that are more decadent, yet still healthy. Currently, the only flavor in Luxe is Cinnamon French Toast (yum) but they are coming out with more flavors like Peach Bellini, Boysenberry Chocolate, and Caramel (just to name a few).

I had the Cinnamon French Toast pouch tonight as my dessert and it was amazing. They nailed the french toast flavor!

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Tons of different flavor combinations which makes these delicious and a lot of fun.

 

Serving Suggestions

These are super easy to take with you and eat in your car (if you have to), or pack with a lunch to work, or eat after your workout. They are also an easy way to spice up an otherwise boring meal/snack at home. You can add them to yogurt, oatmeal, on top of waffles or pancakes, or with cottage cheese.  They add the perfect amount of sweetness to cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt!

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These are not technically made for children. You see a lot of squeeze pouch applesauces out there and some are made for babies (you will find them in the baby aisle) and some aren’t necessarily (find them next to applesauce). These aren’t technically made for kiddos, but my kids are old enough that these make a great snack for them!! They’re absolutely soft enough even for my 17 month old. They taste amazing so my 3 year old, the picky one, will actually eat them!

Big Slice-The Company

Big Slice gives a portion of the purchase of each pouch to the Sparkle Foundation, an organization that supports women and girls in need.  The Sparkle Foundation supports girls/women who need a little extra love and support in their lives. I think it’s awesome that Big Slice donates to a charity of their choosing. In my opinion, that speaks incredibly high of the people running the business.

You can find out more about Big Slice on their website (link here). You can follow them Twitter and check out their Pinterest too!

Where You Can Buy

Big Slice can be found all across the country in stores like Target, Costco, Whole Foods, Publix, H-E-B, The Fresh Market, Consentino’s Fine Foods, Hy-Vee, Price Chopper, Marsh, Busch’s, Fresh Food Market, Vitacost, Straub’s, Dan’s Supermarket, Haggen Food and Pharmacy, and Kowalski’s Markets. The pouches typically run somewhere between $2.29-$2.79.

Giveaway!!

Giveaway time! The best time, really. Big Slice will be giving away to one reader:

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  • 12 sample pouches
  • Big Slice Tumbler
  • spork (or jar)
  • Total retail value of $50

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For an entry into the giveaway, please follow Big Slice Apple’s on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bigsliceapples/

For an additional entry:

For each entry, please leave me a comment below letting me know how you entered. Giveaway ends 12/15.

** Just to summarize: please follow Big Slice on Facebook for an entry into the giveaway and comment below letting me know you did. For additional entries, follow them on Instagram, follow me on Instagram, follow me on Facebook. So, you could potentially enter 4 times.**

Good luck!

Upper Body Bench HIIT *New Workout*

Yes sir! New workout is up! I tried this workout last week and had a grand old time. My biceps are actually still sore (I worked out Friday and today is Sunday..not too shabby, right?).

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So, this is a “bench” HIIT because for the HIIT part of the workout, you’ll be using a bench. I used a regular old bench found at a gym, but you could use a box or I guess anything you can safely jump over and jump on top of.

I wanted to take some pictures to show you guys each move, but honestly just didn’t get around to it so I’ll post pics found around the web (sourced, of course). Let me break it down for you:

This workout is composed of 3 supersets. Perform the first exercise immediately followed by the second, then perform the HIIT portion for 30 seconds (or a minute if you’re feeling extra badass). Complete 3 rounds of each superset, then move onto the next.

 

Incline Bicep Curls

Grab a pair of heavish weights. For example, I used 15lb. For me that’s heavy. Grab whatever is heavy for you! Set your bench at an incline, like 5 for example. Then just perform bicep curls! I did about 8 reps..or basically as many as I could with 15lb. weights.

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Skull Crushers

Triceps! Flatten out your bench and lay down on it. You will probably need to choose lighter weights for these, by the way.

Hold both weights straight out in front of your chest. From there, bend your elbows so your hands end up by your ears, then press back to straight.

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Bench Hop-Overs

These are rough! You’ll love ’em :).

Straighten out the bench. Stand next to the bench, then place both hands on it. Next, hop over the bench, then back again.

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Next Superset:

Front Raises Overhead

You might be familiar with front raises. These are basically those except…keep going!!

Grab some dumbbells and raise them in front of you to shoulder height. Keep on raising them until they’re overhead, then back down again.

This pic is shown with a weight plate, which you can definitely use. Or grab some dumbbells.

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Chest Press

A classic!

Lay down flat on the bench  and grab some heavy weights (but be careful). Bring them up straight in front of your chest and from there, drop them down at your sides bending elbows to about 90 degrees. Then press back to starting position.

 

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(source)

Toe Taps on Bench

Remember ball taps back in your soccer days? This is the same idea.

Stand next to the bench and jump off one foot, tapping the other foot on the bench, then switch back and forth

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(course)

Final Superset:

Bent Over Rows

Grab some dumbbells (or a barbell) and stand up. From there, hinge forward at the waist and pull your arms back keeping your elbows at 90 degrees. Think about pinching your shoulder blades together, that will help.

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(source)

Dumbbell Pullover

Grab a heavy dumbbell. Instead of laying down the bench like you normally would, lay across it resting your head and neck on the bench and using your glutes to keep your hips up.

Raise the dumbbell up in front of your face. From there, lower it behind your head or to where it’s comfortable, then raise back over head.

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(source)

Bench Jumps

This is exactly how it sounds! Stand next to the bench then jump up onto it, landing softly, then hop off.

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(source

 

And there you have it, folks.

Like I said, I tried it this past week and was huffing and puffing throughout and THAT is the idea! HIIT workouts are all about keeping your heart rate up and burning major cals. It’s a nice departure from boring treadmill jogs. 🙂

Let me know if you try it and what you think!

 

 

 

Green Tea, Matcha, and Buddha Teas *Review*

I am a tea novice. To the core. I’ve always wanted to be a “tea drinker” and maybe someday, I will be. I set the bar high when it comes to life goals.

Anyway, my experience with tea is basically the fruity iced one at Starbucks and a random Sleepytime tea at someone else’s house. I used to drink green tea every now and then…but then somehow fell out of the habit. Full transparency: coffee has my heart. Lately my coffee habit has sort of taken over my day. I’m finding myself drinking two cups in the morning…then suddenly one midmorning…afternoon…etc. I’m not sure it’s technically too much, but I sort of want to get control over it. Given all the great health benefits green tea has, I think it would make a great replacement!

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Green Tea Benefits

Green tea’s biggest claim to fame is its’ catechins content. Catechins are antioxidants that fight and may prevent cell damage. According to WebMD:

“green tea has been shown to improve bloodflow and lower cholesterol. A 2013 review of many studies found green tea helped prevent a range of heart-related issues, from high blood pressure to congestive heart failure.”

It doesn’t end in the heart either! There’s good news for the brain too:

“In one Swiss study, MRIs revealed that people who drank green tea had greater activity in the working-memory area of their brains. Green tea has also been shown to help block the formation of plaques that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease.”

Yes, there’s more:

“Green tea seems to help keep blood sugarstable in people with diabetes. Because catechins lower cholesterol and blood pressure, they can help protect against the damage a high-fat diet can cause, Ochner says.”

It’s pretty remarkable actually. The more I read about green tea, the more I wonder WHY am I not drinking this round the clock!? I will now.

Green Tea versus Matcha 

Now that we all know how badass green tea is, let’s talk about green tea’s even more superior cousin…or sister…or whatever: matcha.

Matcha, much like regular green tea, has a ton of antioxidants. According to Men’s Health:

…”this Japanese tea has three times the amount of epigallocatechin gallate, a potent antioxidant, as regular green tea. Plus, matcha contains theanine, an amino acid linked to improved cognitive performance.”

Typically, matcha tea leaves are ground into a fine powder and that powder is stirred directly into your water. No tea bags here. So you’re really ingesting those antioxidants.

Personally, I haven’t tried the powdered Matcha, only Matcha in a tea bag. I assume maybe it’s slightly less powerful this way, but don’t really know for sure. The bottom line is: powdered, tea bag, green tea, Matcha-all incredibly healthy choices. 

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Buddha Teas Matcha Green Tea 

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The nice folks at Buddha Teas sent me some of their Matcha Green Tea to try and try it I did.

I’ve had some green teas in the past that have tasted a little bitter. Anyone else experience this? This tea was not bitter at all, which I loved. I really didn’t feel the need to add honey or any other sweetener to it.

The Buddha Teas website is pretty cool. If you like tea, or are a beginner like me, it’s a pretty great way to learn about different teas. You can search for whatever you’re looking for (of course), but you can also navigate by benefit (for example, inflammation, memory, antioxidants, etc.).

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They offer a TON of teas from herbal, loose leaf (they DO sell powdered Matcha), specialty teas (for example, Acai Berry and Green Tea), Chakra Teas (for example, the 5th Chakra tea, which focuses on creativity, communication, and self expression), black teas, green teas, and premium blends. Lots of good stuff!!

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loose-leaf-matcha-bag

I’m excited to try new teas! I think for my next order, I’ll pick something based on benefit like Teas for Women, Brain Function, or Digestive Function. So many fun things :).

Check out Buddha Teas website here and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Are you a tea drinker? What’s your favorite kind?

Whole Foods, Body Image, and Social Media

Body Image

I assume I’m not alone when I say that sometimes, I can get caught up in “body image.” When I say body image, I’m literally talking about what my body looks like (usually) compared to others. I feel like I should know better than to compare myself to anyone else, but sometimes it’s damn near impossible not to. Those of you on social media, Instagram in particular, probably know what I’m talking about.

If you’re not on Instagram or not familiar, it’s great! By “great” I mean it’s a terrific time waster. It’s only photographs. Sounds basically like Facebook and in a way, it is, but it’s only pictures. It’s actually much more entertaining than it sounds.

Instagram is great for a lot of things but there is absolutely a large group of “fitness experts” who essentially only post pictures of themselves in their underwear with an inspiring quote underneath. It’s kind of ridiculous because it is so blatantly narcissistic. That being said, it’s hard not to compare what you see in the mirror, to people like that.

Focusing on Food

I’ve tried to start thinking about diet and body image differently. Instead of looking in the mirror and being discouraged with what I see, I’m going to try to steer away from that entirely by focusing on food.

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Food, of course, can become an obsession too. I’m not counting calories or restricting myself to tiny portions, I’m simply going to focus on consuming whole foods. In my opinion, if I were only eating whole foods- fruits, vegetables, eggs, some dairy, lean meats, and fish- the body will take care of itself.

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Plantains are my new obsession, by the way!

This also means no processed foods. That’s tough! It can be done, but it’s a hard one. I especially find it challenging when we are in the car (our drive is 50 minutes). Non-processed snack foods can be slightly complicated since one of my kiddos is pretty young (no choking hazards). I think in this case, food prep is key. I could make to-go snacks like chopped veggies and fruit, paleo pancakes, apple sauce, etc. So, it is possible, just more time consuming.

pom

 

Kiddos

This kind of stems off the processed food bit. Even organic processed food is processed food. My kids both have trouble with constipation and I really want to fix that for them. It is quite possibly the most heart-wrenching site to watch my 16 month old cry because she’s trying to poop but can’t (sorry if that’s too much information, but she’s a baby. She’s cute even when she poops).

I feel like I’m doing my kids a disservice by feeding them foods with basically no nutritional value and that’s pretty apparent to me given their bowel issues.

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When it comes to snacks and on-the-go meals, I’ll just need to plan and prep more in advance. When it comes to meals at home though, they are going to eat what the adults eat! I’ve fallen into a bad habit of making different meals for my kids because, mostly my three year old, is picky. I’ve decided though that she is old enough to eat what I eat. If she chooses not to eat it, then she can starve. So, obviously not really, I’m not going to starve my kids. But, she does need to learn that she can eat what her mom or dad made her for dinner. I think it’s important for her to be grateful for the meal that was made for her and not complain about it.

The Holiday’s

Holiday’s are challenging. I’m not going to worry too much about it though. Most days up until Christmas, we are at home so I really don’t have an excuse.

I think a key part to staying sane during the holiday’s is exercise. It can be super tough the closer you get to Christmas especially if you’re out of town visiting family. You need to keep a priority though! Whether that means working out early in the morning, going for a family run or hike (if you live in Arizona or California ha!), or simply setting aside 30 minutes of your day to dedicate to your workout. 30 minutes is not long, your family will understand!

Next Steps

The next step for me is to a.) unfollow some people on social media who only post half naked pics (I’m not being a hater, I just don’t get any value from them except their hot. Yep, you’re hot)., and b.) get educated.

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I think I have a basic understanding of proper nutrition, but there is nothing wrong with seeking out more knowledge. I checked out a couple books at the library and am hoping I can get through each book. (I usually prefer audio books because I’m so tired at night I hardly read). Anyway, I’m excited to check these out! I will keep you posted on thoughts.

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Oh, and c.) food prep!

I’m really just trying to keep it simple: eat whole foods. Use food to nourish and energize the body.

This post was sort of rantish. Sorry about that! If you read it all, thanks! If not, I forgive you. 🙂

What’s your take on whole foods? What about body image and social media?

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Have you heard about this book? Nope, the title of this post is not original content. This is actually the title of a bestselling book by Marie Kondo about, you guessed it, tidying up.

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All you mom’s out there probably know “tidying up” all too well because that’s mostly what we do, right? Tell me I’m not the only one who cleans a room (and am so proud!), only to walk into the next room and see every book off the shelf or poop on the floor (this literally happened on Saturday).

Tidying up is endless. Endless I say! Well, according to the author of this book, it doesn’t have to be so.

The basic idea behind her tidying philosophy is: look at your stuff, if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it. I’m only about halfway through the book, but stopped after the first category to tidy. The first category was clothes (she groups accessories in here too like shoes and bags).

So, Saturday afternoon I roamed the house and literally threw all my clothes on the floor.

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I have to admit, I sort of regretted doing it immediately because then I had to deal with them. I mean, they were all over the damn floor. So, I got started.

I sorted (or tried) my clothes into piles: pants, shorts, tank tops, sweaters, etc. Then I started my pile of giveaway clothes.

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I feel like I need this chick here in my house so she can really hammer on me… “DOES THIS SPARK JOY!?” Most likely, to most clothes, I would say, “no……..but……” But nothing. Just no.

Since it was just me, I’m thinking some clothes may have fallen through the cracks, but I’m proud of my giveaway pile! Or giveaway piles…5 LARGE garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and bags.

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Maybe I should “tidy up” my Halloween decorations, no? I’m getting there I swear.

I’m not quite done tidying the clothes. I do have some in a storage unit (ugh..I know, it’s endless!). Not many, but they’re still there. I’m thinking that I may just give them all away (I’ll double check first). They’ve been in a storage unit for almost a year and I haven’t missed them. Most of them are dresses that are all about 7-10 years old (college clothes) and let’s be honest, I don’t hit the clubs often anymore.

The author, Marie Kondo, had a good point about clothes that I tried to keep in mind. Take a look at a piece of clothing and think about when you wore it/bought it. What was your life like then? Well, in my case for my dressier clothes, they were all bought while I was in college (or immediately after). I was living in cities, going to bars, and partying a lot more than I am now. Those clothes served their purpose. But my life is different now, so I no longer need them.

Obviously I am keeping a few dresses. Dresses that I love, that, like she says, “spark joy.” But I think I did a pretty good job de-cluttering…at least my clothes. Next up: BOOKS.

I honestly didn’t plan on posting about this so I don’t have a “before” closet picture, but here’s my after!

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Yes, our baby sleeps in our closet.

Since I haven’t finished the book, I can’t say yet if I recommend it. I certainly recommend the idea though. I think we all could use a little de-cluttering. Like I said, books are next, then baby clothes, baby toys, MAKEUP (a big one for me) and who knows what else I’ll get my hands on.

 

Do you de-clutter? Have you tried this method?