Healthy Team Snacks

Both of my boys are in soccer. This is the first year that my 4 year old is getting to play and they are both having a blast! I am also helping coach one of the teams. It is an adjustment while we are in after school activities because we have to plan ahead and have snacks before practice and dinner planned for when we get home. Of course there is also the after game snacks. Our family actually looks forward to signing up for snacks because we make them together.

You see I usually get the "look" when I tell parents my children are gluten free and dairy free as if it is taboo. My kids love to eat whole foods and go to the fridge to grab carrots, cucumbers, apples, and banana's without me harping on them. Now don't get me wrong, we do have some go to processed snacks that we keep on hand for the kids that are gluten free and dairy free. We buy Annie's gluten free granola bars, gluten free pretzels, and Smart Pop popcorn. My kids would LOVE to eat all that junk all the time if I let them, but we learned early on that wasn't an option for us.

You see, when my oldest was only 6 months he started getting ear infections and they didn't stop. In fact, we were at the doctor's office every 2 weeks sometimes. I couldn't stand him being on antibiotics all the time and it seemed as soon as he came off a round he got sick again. So at the age of 1 we asked about out options. We ended up getting tubes in his ears. Even after that the infections didn't stop. I started doing research and found that removing dairy could help clear up infections. My doctor wasn't really supportive and said that dairy creating excess mucus was just a myth. My husband and I decided that it was worth a try and wasn't going to harm anything so we went dairy free. We switch my oldest to coconut milk and no longer gave him cheese snacks or yogurt. If I made any recipes that called for cow's milk we just used coconut milk instead. It really wasn't very hard. No matter how much your child likes a certain snack, if it is no longer an option in your home they are going to question you. Just give them another option.

After a couple of months of being dairy free the ear infections slowed and then stopped. He would get an infection any time he was exposed to dairy so that confirmed our decision to remove dairy and stick with it. Logan knew that if he ate something he shouldn't that his ear would hurt really bad. He has had 7 ruptured ear drums and 2 sets of tubes. So we have learned the hard way that our food choices matter. We later decided to remove gluten because my youngest had eczema and that cleared up his skin completely. We don't feel it is fair to allow one family member to eat these foods when the others can't have it so we do it as a family.

The other food choice we decided to make a change on very early on in parenthood was to remove all foods that had artificial dyes. These dyes are derived from coal tar. Synthetic alternatives have proven to have a lot of problems with the behavior of children. I first noticed this after taking my son Logan out for a treat for going an entire week without any accidents when we started potty training. He of course chose the multi colored ice cream. Oh boy, was I in for a treat! He was not only bouncing off the walls, but wouldn't listen to a thing I said to him. It was an absolute nightmare. I started looking at some of the foods we had and noticed that his cereal bar had red dye in it and so did his gummy snacks. If you do some research you will find that dyes are in all kinds of products, toothpaste, vitamins, cough syrup, chap stick, as well as your drinks and food.

So now you can see my decision to make these changes in our diets really benefits us greatly. It has nothing to do with me trying to show up other parents or make you feel bad for bringing chips, gatorade, or candy. I just don't want my kids to end up with another ear infection or their skin to break out with eczema. So they will always bring me the food they were offered and ask if it is something they can eat. I don't try to push my lifestyle choices on others, but I do offer food my family can eat when we sign up for snacks.

The other kids love our snacks! I haven't had one turn them down yet. The best part of we often have parents asking if we have extra for them to have. Our biggest hit that we make are our Little Frankies. We just buy organic grapes and organic marshmallows (these are free of corn syrup). Put the grapes in the cup with 2 large marshmallows with a couple grapes on top and put some seal and press saran wrap on the top of the cup. We then draw some eyes, a mouth and some hair on the cup to make them fun. The kids love it!

What I find important is providing nutrients after an hour long game of running back and forth, sweating like crazy in our hot, humid, Florida weather. Gatorade was created for replacing electrolytes, but it is full of sugar and artificial coloring so we opt for water. There are dye free juice drinks that you can bring if you want to get those as well. My kids love those little bottles of water for some reason so we buy those when it is for the team.

Some other cute snack ideas are:

- banana dolphins https://craftyrecipes.com/banana-dolphins-snack-kids/

- Tangerine pumpkins https://brendid.com/tangerine-pumpkin-8-healthy-halloween-snack/

- Ningxia turtle apples https://thewhoot.com/whoot-news/recipes/ninja-turtle-party-ideas

 

The kids are sure to love these when you put a little extra touch to them. I hope this sparks some interest to make some healthy options and get your kids involved as well.

Xoxo,

Candace

Meal Prep Week 3

Meal Prep Week 3

So technically this is week 4, but since my husband was out of town for an entire week I ended up with a lot of leftovers and meals that we did not end up making. All I did last week was make up some chicken salad to eat on during the week and make up some breakfast muffins to eat for breakfast. We had enough food for dinner each night so I didn't make up anything extra for dinner.

This week my husband is working evenings and we will not see each other much which means I don't make a ton of food since either of us usually don't eat a lot with our schedules the way they are. Maybe that is kind of strange, but when I am at home by myself with the kids we kind of just graze on food and don't eat a sit down dinner. So this is what my light week looks like for all of us.

eggI boiled eggs so our family of 4 could snack on them and take them in our lunches. The question always arises as to how to get the perfect boiled egg, am I right? Usually it is just how can I get my eggs to peel without butchering my eggs! We boil our eggs with some salt and olive oil in the pot and put a lid on the pot while boiling then turn off the burner and set them aside for a few minutes. Once they have cooled off a little we will tap them with a spoon and crack each one and let them sit about 5 minutes. This is what we believe has helped us peel the egg perfectly and easily. Now you can pour out the water and run some cold water over the eggs so you don't burn your fingers                                                                                      and start peeling. I didn't have any trouble peeling my eggs at all.

I decided to make my husband a pot roast so he could eat on that during the week to either take for lunch or eat before he goes into work. Here is a Whole 30 compliant recipe that I decided to use. You can never go wrong with a pot roast. We put in golden potatoes, carrots, and celery.

Easy Paleo Pot Roast (Whole 30 Compliant)

The other meal I decided to make is a tuna salad. I used to LOVE a tuna pasta salad my mom would make me as a child, but since I haven't eaten pasta for over 8 years I had to look up some new ways of making this delicious recipe. I decided to make ribbon zucchini and add in tuna, paleo mayo, and 2 boiled eggs.

13147409_10206578381163759_5735069280553344890_o  2 medium zucchini's                                                                     2 5 oz cans of Albacore Tuna packed in water                               2 Tbs paleo mayo (may need to adjust to your liking)                   2 boiled eggs chopped up                                                               Salt and Pepper to taste                                                                 Serve Cold

 

 

I also made a chicken salad again this week, but I decided to make my mom's chicken salad recipe this time which I absolutely love!

You will need:

  • 3 cups chicken shredded
  • 2 cups pineapple chopped
  • 1/2 cup cashews chopped
  • 1/3 cup paleo mayo

This can be served over a bed of spinach or eaten in butter lettuce leaves.

I also have put together a chicken stir fry meal that I can easily put in the skillet when I decide to make it this week. I went with cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli for my veggies and I will use coconut aminos as that is soy free and Whole 30 compliant. You can add any veggies you feel like. Here is a page that has several options:

Quick And Easy Paleo Stir-Fries

This is always such a stress release for me to have everything planned out for the week so I am not finding myself with just a few minutes to spare as I am getting ready to walk out the door in the morning only to realize I don't have anything prepared for my lunch. Make sure you have options in the fridge so you can grab them and go!

Please comment below and let me know which recipes you have absolutely loved and ones that maybe you didn't care that much for.

Happy Meal Planning!

Candace 

Meal Prep Part 2

Meal Prep Part 2 is Under Way!

Another week down prepping for my week alongside a friend. Which, let's face it, anything that you do with a friend is just going to be more fun and you get things done a lot faster! It took us about 2 hours to prep for the week and that was with 4 boys 6 years and under running around playing superheros and 1 casualty that took place. My youngest gashed his forehead somehow while playing and we doctored him up and sat with him for a bit before continuing on.

Never a dull moment!

This week I decided that I wanted to make a chicken salad to eat so I went with the below recipe. I did tweak it a bit by adding chopped up cashews and grapes. It is to die for! Just eat on top of sliced zucchini or cucumbers.

Ranch Chicken Salad Recipe {Paleo- Whole30 Compliant}

My friend Kristen suggested we look for a shepherd's pie and make a cauliflower mash as the topping. I was excited to give it a try because I haven't ever had shepherd's pie before. So I used this recipe and just replaced the sweet potatoes for a head of cauliflower. I boiled the cauliflower in water and then put in my Ninja blender along with coconut oil and I was done with my topping. We put the meal together and placed in the freezer without cooking so all we will have to do when we get home is cook it for 15-20 minutes.

Paleo Shepherd’s Pie

The next meal was decided on because we wanted to do something with zucchini noodles. We decided on a crock pot spaghetti. I placed all of the ingredients in a freezer bag except for the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. Those are things I will add to the crockpot the morning I decide to cook the meal. I went ahead and add the zoodles to the freezer bag as well to cook in the crockpot so you there will not be a need to make anything once you get home with this meal.

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce with meat

I have been a little obsessed with broccoli slaw lately. I know - weird! IT... IS... SO... GOOD! Super easy to make as well. I like to eat this on nights that it is really hot and I don't feel like I can eat a heavy meal. I also like to have this for lunch. We made a pack of Whole30 approved bacon and crumbled it in our slaw, used cranberries, and chopped pecans. You can even add kale to your slaw to add another great super food!

Best of Whole30 Recipes: Pot-Luck Perfection

And the last meal is a go to for my family... Chicken Fajitas in the crockpot. I have listed a recipe that shows you baking them, however, you can throw all of the ingredients into a freezer bag with the chicken raw. The day you decide to serve this meal pull it out of the freezer and place in the fridge to thaw. You will just put it in the crockpot the morning of and when you get home it will be ready to serve. You just purchase some butter lettuce to serve the mixture on and there is your meal! You can also just put over a bed of spinach and eat as a salad which is just as good.

One-Dish Chicken Fajita Bake

I hope that you enjoy the meals I have been putting together each week. I know that my family has enjoyed them and I can definitely see a difference in how I feel because I am not stopping to get any food elsewhere during the day.

xoxo,

Candace

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Essentially Fit

My Weekly Meal Prep – Essentially Fit

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The point of meal prepping is to to help you save time during the week and also save you some money! I am ALL about saving TIME. We are super busy with the kids starting soccer practice, archery and our regular church activities that we have during the week. In order to keep from spending a lot of money on eating out I spend an hour or so prepping all of my dinners for the week on the weekend.

Now this doesn't mean that you have to cook everything ahead of time. I have an even better way to save you time. Slow cooker freezer meals! All except for 1 ingredient will go in the bag uncooked. So I took 5 different meals and chopped my veggies, added the meat, and put the spices in the bag together and then freeze them. If the recipe called for broth or cream of coconut then I left that out and will add to the crockpot the day of cooking. The night before all you do is put the meal you want to have in the fridge to thaw so before you leave in the morning you will pour the ingredients into your slow cooker and follow the directions that you wrote on the outside of the bag. Super easy! Dinner will be ready when you get home. 🙂

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Here are the recipes that I decided to create this week. I basically took the ingredients for each recipe and placed in a gallon size freezer bag with a couple of exceptions. You don't want to add the chicken stock, beef stock, cream of coconut, or kale to the bags. Oh and the guacamole you will make ahead and just place in the fridge. I decided this was going to be my first meal of the week. 😉

You will want to write yourself instructions on your freezer bag what you will need the day of, so on the Zuppa Toscana recipe I wrote: Add 4 cups chicken stock to slow cooker - Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Once cooked add coconut cream (fat at the top of coconut milk) to slow cooker and simmer about 5 minutes. Serve with crumbled bacon on top.

Give yourself the directions of what you need to add the day of in case you misplace your recipe or don't use the meal until later on down the road included quantities of each item needing to be added. Write the date you made the meal and how long it will take to cook in the slow cooker.

Paleo Zuppa Toscana

Serve this Beef Stroganoff over cauliflower rice and I am adding broccoli and you have a wonderful meal! On freezer bag write: Cook on low 6 hours, Add 1 1/4 cup beef broth, After cooked add coconut cream and mix 3 T arrowroot starch with 2 T water together then add to slow cooker and simmer for 30 minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff (Paleo, Dairy-Free, Whole 30)

I think you get the point on how I wrote instructions on the freezer bags. You don't need to cook any food ahead of time. This will save you a ton of time and you won't have to worry about what you are going to have for dinner at all! Most of these meals will serve 4-6 and you can have leftovers for lunch as well.

Seasoned Chicken, Potatoes and Green beans

The other two recipes I made are linked below.

http://www.realfoodwholelife.com/blog/slow-cooker-chicken-kale-sweet-potato-stew

http://livingmy20sdaybyday.blogspot.com/2014/02/whole30-fajitas-guacamole.html

I hope you enjoy the meals and experience how much easier it is to prep your meals before your week starts. All the headaches and time you saved by doing so and you will be rewarded for it.

Enjoy the meals and let me know if you have any questions!

Candace

Should you measure out your food?

When it comes to losing weight it can be very overwhelming. What do I eat, how much do I eat, when do I eat? All of these questions and not sure where to even start!

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There are a couple of ways to look at how to start thinking about making changes. You can decide which one will be best for you. Back in 2004 when I finally started to drop weight and it came off fairly quickly (20 pounds in 3 months) I learned how to eat based on writing down my foods and having a check list. I marked off the foods I ate from each meal as the day went by. So if I ate a large meal at breakfast that meant I didn't have a lot for lunch or dinner.

My day would look like this:

  • 2 servings of Fruit
  • 3 servings of Veggies (greens were unlimited)
  • 4 servings of Protein
  • 2 servings of Starches/Carbs
  • 1 serving of Fat
  • 2 servings of Seeds, Oils, Dressing

This is based on a 1200-1500 calorie diet. If you are feeling hungry then add more greens to your meals to start out with to see if that helps you stay full. You may need to play around with the combination of foods. Fats/Carbs/Protein mixed at each meal. You may need more veggies (good carbs) at each meal versus your protein portion or the opposite.

Now becoming familiar with what a serving is was the other challenge. Let's keep it simple!

  • 1 cup is a serving for Fruits and Veggies
  • 3/4 cup for Protein
  • 1/2 cup for Starches/Carbs
  • 1/3 cup Healthy Fats (cheese, nuts, coconut, avocado)
  • 1 Tablespoon dressing or seeds

foodmeasurements

The above chart is handy to have when you are out and about. Trying to determine how much you should eat should become fairly easy when you can use your hand as a guide for measuring. When you are at home and making a plate or packing your lunch and snacks it is good to measure things out. I am sure you are not actually aware of how much you are eating of each food.

 

This is when your eyes become open and you see how much you are actually taking in each day. What makes it even easier is when you buy containers that are already 1/2 cup or 1 cup serving sizes. That way you can pack each item in the container and not have to measure it out. You will know that you are eating the correct portions. When I am making things like a chicken salad I will put my veggies in a container, my protein in a container, mayo in my tablespoon container and mix it all together later. That way the food isn't soggy! 🙂

If you are eating almonds and a fruit as a snack it is helpful to put the almonds in a 1 ounce container (1/2 a handful) so you don't overeat your nuts. 😉 It is actually very easy to eat too much when you eat directly from the container. So pour out your food into a container to eat from instead of eating from a bag or container.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Candace