Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Oatmeal Review Opportunity!

A couple weeks ago I was given the opportunity to review some products from My Oatmeal, a company that specializes in “customized healthy oatmeal.”  I love oatmeal, but so many brands are over-processed and loaded with sugar.  When I looked into My Oatmeal, I was very pleased to learn they pride themselves on being natural and healthy.  Also, as someone who is gluten-sensitive, I was very excited to learn that they carry gluten-free options.

Anthony, the founder, was super friendly to speak with, and gave me a code to order my customized oatmeal which I will be reviewing.  I built three different flavors which I was able to name:

“Banana Bread with Walnuts”
“Strawberry Shortcake”
“Peanut Butter & Chocolate”

It’s very simple to build your blend:

Step 1:  How Much Oatmeal Are We Going to Make For you?
Here you choose your size between 1lb, 2.25lbs, or 4lbs.

Step 2:  Now Choose Your Oats! (They only use non-GMO oats, bonus!)
Here you can choose between quick rolled oats, 5 grain rolled oats & flax, steel cut whole oats, signature smash blend, gluten-free quick oats, or organic gluten-free thick rolled oats.

Step 3:  Time for Some Flavor! (They only use 100% natural flavors!)
There are 43 flavors to choose from including carrot cake, old fashioned glazed donut, banana bread, white cake, cookie dough, and so many more!!!  They also have seasonal flavors available!

Step 4:  Pick Your Fruits
There are 12 fruit options including apples, banana chips, figs, etc., as well as 5 premium fruit options like strawberries, peaches and pears.

Step 5:  Nuts, Seeds, & More (For a little something extra!)
Choose between 12 different options including chia seeds, macademia nuts, sliced almonds, and more.

Step 6:  Let’s Sweeten the Deal!  (They recommend if you added a flavor)
Here you can choose between 5 different sweetener options including brown sugar cane (plant), brown sugar cane granules (plant), white cane sugar (plant), Monk fruit (plant, calorie free), and Sucralose (Splenda).

Step 7:  How Often Should We Ship It?
You have the option to order it once, or set a recurring order!

Step 8:  And the final step…Name Your Blend!

It’s as easy as that!  I’ve ordered my three blends, and I am really excited to review them for you here!  I strongly encourage you to check out their website linked above, or at www.myoatmeal.com.  Stay tuned for my reviews!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mid-January Goals Check-In

At the beginning of the year I set my goals for myself, and one of them was to decrease my body fat percent.  Here was what I wrote in my goal post pertaining to the body fat goal:

A few days ago I had a mid-month check in, and I am very happy to report that not only has my body fat decreased, but I’ve already reached my January AND February goals!!!  On January 20th, my body fat was down from 32% to 27.4%!!!  Even my trainer said he could notice a difference before he measured me.  I’m so excited and encouraged to see the results of hard work paying off.  Before I had to take time off from working out, my body fat was 24%...I'm on my way back to that!  I think I better adjust my goals now...stay tuned!!! :)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weekly Meal Prep

I’ve received a lot of questions lately about my Sunday meal prep, so I thought I would write a post about it.  It’s really quite simple, but it is time consuming.  This past Sunday I spent several hours in the kitchen washing and chopping veggies, roasting chicken, steaming shrimp, and dividing it all into containers.  But it’s so worth it because each morning I just grab my lunch from the fridge and can head to work!

So what exactly do I do?

First thing’s first…I go grocery shopping!  My shopping list is pretty simple consisting of proteins, veggies, and fruit (always try to buy organic when available).  My list varies each week, depending on what is seasonable/fresh/available, but usually consists of the following:

Shopping List
Chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
Ground turkey (extra lean)
Fish if it’s fresh (salmon, halibut, cod, or shrimp)

Bell peppers
Green beans
Sweet potatoes

Berries (if available)

Coconut water
Chia seeds
Almond butter/peanut butter
Egg whites

Once I have all my groceries, the prep work begins!

I like to keep breakfast simple but hearty.  I usually alternate between egg whites with spinach, a ¼ cup oats with cinnamon (sometimes I’ll add slivered almonds for texture), or chia seed pudding.  The egg whites and oat options don’t need much prep, but the chia seed pudding is great to prep and very easy to do.

Vanilla chia seed pudding
2 tbs chia seeds
½ cup coconut water (or coconut milk)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Mix these ingredients together and let sit in fridge at least one hour.  When you’re ready to eat it, feel free to add honey, almond or peanut butter, berries, or almonds.

Chocolate chia seed pudding
Same as above, just add 1tbs of cocoa powder.

This week I chose to make salads for lunch, and by salads I don’t mean romaine lettuce and dressing…I mean colorful and nutrient-rich kale and spinach salads with tons of veggies and even a little fruit!  Included in my salads are the following:  spinach, kale, cucumber, orange bell pepper, avocado, apple, green beans, and carrots.  Here are my salads with all the chopped veggies and apple (I hadn't yet added the spinach and kale):

I wanted to include some protein in my salads, so I baked two boneless skinless chicken breasts and steamed some small shrimp.  Once cooked, I tore up about ½ breast each for two salads, and used about 5 shrimp each for my remaining two salads (I have a work lunch this week which is why I only prepared 4 meals).

How I prepared my chicken:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Season chicken breasts with Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning (so delicious!!!)
-Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes until juices run clear
-Let cool, then tear into pieces and place in salad

How I prepared my shrimp:
-Place steam basket over pot with water (don’t let the water touch the steam basket; you only need about 2 inches)
-Season shrimp with garlic and lemon (you may even squeeze juice of a lemon into the water below the basket)
-Place shrimp in steam basket in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes (shrimp is very quick to cook)
-Let cool, then place in salad

Once my salads are put together, I stack them in the fridge.  I don’t put dressing on them until I’m about to eat them, because I don’t want them to get soggy.  For dressing, I usually use balsamic & olive oil, or Walden Farms Ranch (calorie free, fat free, carb free, sugar free), and put it in a small container and store in the fridge with my salads.  When I’m ready to head out in the morning, I grab a salad and a dressing container I’m ready to go!

My dinners are simple…usually left over chicken from when I prepped (remember I cooked two chicken breasts but only used one for my salads), or fish that is easy to prepare.  For example, when I went shopping I bought two fresh cod fillets, so last night I made baked cod with lemon, chili, and cumin, and it was absolutely delectable.

I always include one or two veggies like sautéed or steamed spinach, roasted asparagus, sautéed green beans, roasted beets, or roasted tomatoes with garlic.  Here are baby heirloom tomatoes and brussel sprouts that we roasted the other night:
Hubby and I always have date nights.  Sometimes we go out to dinner and other times we cook together at home (I made a delicious date night at home dinner last week which I will share on my blog soon!).

This may seem like a lot, but it’s actually quite simple.  The largest component of meal prepping is time.  Keep in mind that you are preparing your meals with love, so turn on some music and have fun with it!  Get your spouse and/or kids involved and make it a family affair.  Just have fun :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Grammie's 3 Year Angel Day

I can't believe it's been three years since Grammie passed away.  She was the only grandparent I ever knew, as my three other grandparents passed away long before I was born.  I was also named after my Grammie (Margaret), which made our bond even tighter.  She was an incredible woman.  She went to Johns Hopkins University for Nursing School, then later met her husband (my grandfather) at The University of Chicago.  She was a nurse, a teacher, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a friend, a volunteer, and so much more.  Grammie was always very warm and giving.  Growing up, she would pick my younger brother and I up from school every day all through elementary and middle school.  She lived a long and happy life of 92 years.  I know she is having fun now with Mom, my uncle, and my great aunts and uncles (her brothers and sisters).
I love you always Grammie :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Quest Bar Review

There are so many protein bars on the market and so many of them are loaded with carbs that can cost you up to 300 calories per bar with only 10g of protein.  That’s a lot of extra calories!  Additionally, many of these bars have high soy content, vegetable glycerin, unnecessary oils, sugars, and artificial flavor enhancers like calcium caseinate, which is known to cause migraines and cognitive issues.  I don’t want any of that in my body, so I have been on the hunt for a delicious and HEALTHY protein bar that has the greatest amount of protein, least amount of calories, and no additives like I mentioned above.  Thanks to the help of my awesome trainer, I finally found it!

Quest Bars are absolutely wonderful!  They are all natural, gluten-free, and contain 20g of protein and a range of 160-210 calories depending on the the flavor.  I bought a mixed flavor box and have tried the Cookie Dough, Lemon Pie, Vanilla Almond Crunch, and Chocolate Brownie, and they are delicious!!!  They are a great grab-and-go meal, and even a delicious snack or dessert.

The other night I was craving something sweet after dinner, so I Googled Quest Bar recipes to see what I could do with one of those for a healthy dessert.  It turns out there are a bunch of recipes with Quest Bars!  I chose a very simple one:  bake a Chocolate Brownie Quest Bar in the oven at 400 degree for 2-3 minutes, then top with organic peanut butter.  It was delicious and tasted like a homemade brownie!  I only ate half, which satisfied my sweet craving perfectly.  There are so many other recipes such cookies (cut bar in pieces and bake on parchment lined baking sheet at 350 for 7 minutes); ice cream sandwiches and tons of others (check our this blog for a ton of other recipes)!  And of course, you can always eat it as-is for a scrumptious and healthy treat!

I HIGHLY recommend trying these bars!  Enjoy!

*Disclaimer:  This is a personal blog and I do not receive any compensation for this review.  This review represents my own opinion based on personal experience with Quest Bars.

Goals for 2014

Happy New Year!!!!!

I don't like to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I believe if you want to make a change, why wait for a new year to do so?  Go ahead and make that change now.  Instead of resolutions, I like to set goals, and here are some of the goals I'm setting for myself:

1.       Decrease body fat %.
After not being able to workout for two months (and honestly, eating poorly and drinking far too much with Christmas and all the parties that go along with it), my body fat percent increased to 32%, which is HIGH.  My trainer said it's healthy to lose about 2% a month, so here are my body fat goals for the end of each month:
-Jan:  30%
-Feb:  28%
-Mar:  25%
-Apr:  23%
*Note:  I'm not setting goals on losing weight, because as I develop more muscle (see goal #3) I will gain weight since muscle weighs more than fat, but I will be losing fat.  Hence body fat % goals.

2.       Cut out alcohol until Super Bowl.
As mentioned above, with all the holiday parties, I've been drinking more than usual.  Cutting out alcohol from New Years to Super Bowl will be a nice gut and liver cleanse, and will help me reach my first goal above.  By the way, I'm not drinking on New Year’s Eve either.  I've found some delicious “mock-tail” recipes that I will be making instead.

3.       Build muscle.
Lifting weights again several times a week, focusing on different muscle groups each day during the week.  I love lifting, and seeing my muscles tone up and become defined.  Also lifting increases your metabolism and keeps it up throughout the day.

4.       Eat clean.
When I was eating clean, I felt so nourished and full of energy.  The last couple months I haven't been eating as well, and I definitely feel the lethargy and bloat more than usual.

5.       Maintain a positive attitude!!
Always always always be positive!  This is something that comes naturally to me, but sometimes it's good to remind myself of it.  Positive minds live positive lives :)  Plant the seeds of positive thinking, and positive things will happen.

Cheers to a happy and healthy 2014!!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!!!!