Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu 2014

I was watching The Chew yesterday and Carla Hall said something that I agree with 1000%  "Thanksgiving is about food memories!"  and it really is.  I have a ton of food memories from Thanksgiving when I was a child and now, as an adult, my Thanksgiving menu is based on mine.  Recipe Redux this month is about redoing favorite food memories in a healthier way.  And since Thanksgiving is only a few days away I decided I'd share with you all of my Thanksgiving recipes.  

Honestly, what is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?  I'm betting most of you named a side dish and the ones that didn't, you named a dessert.  In my opinion, no one loves Thanksgiving for the turkey.  I haven't had a turkey on my Thanksgiving table in over 2 years.  Last year I made meatloaf and the years before that I made fish.  But really, the stars of my Thanksgiving are the sides.  This year I decided to ditch the main dish all together and JUST make sides.

The  Grain Foods Foundation emailed me this infographic which proves my point.

One of my favorite sides growing up was my mom's stuffing {me and 89% of the people}.  {side note:  My favorite was the stuffing that came out of the bird.  YUM!}  My mom's stuffing wasn't super complex or fancy.  And honestly that was what made it so good.  She used to saute the vegetables in copious amounts of butter, she used chicken stock that was high in sodium, white bread, and whole eggs.  Here is my lightened up, remake.

Mom's Updated Healthy Stuffing

Approx. 18 slices of whole wheat or whole grain bread, cubed
1 cup of onions, diced
2 cups of celery, sliced small
1 T poultry seasoning
1 T ground sage
1/2 cup egg substitute or egg whites
1 cup veggie broth 

  1. Saute onions and celery until soft (if you're using regular non-vegetarian sausage you want to cook it too at this point)
  2. Place all ingredients in a big bowl and mix together (use your hands, it works the best.  Don't be afraid to get messy!)
  3. Place in a baking pan and cover with tin foil. 
  4. Put into a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes
  5. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.
I usually triple this recipe.  Kaylee could eat 1 whole pan by herself.  She LOVES stuffing!  I actually make my own whole wheat fat free bread to use for the stuffing. This year I might add some kale or spinach to one batch of it.  

What else is going to be on my table?

For breakfast I'm going to do a pumpkin bread pudding.  I normally don't make a special breakfast but, I'm feeling nice this year.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
15 oz can pumpkin
.5-1 cup brown sugar
3 cups skim milk (or almond milk)
.75 cup egg substitute
1 t cinnamon
.5 t ground nutmeg (or cloves if you'd prefer
1 t vanilla extract
12 slices of whole wheat, or cinnamon raisin bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (if you're using homemade bread it's about 6 cups)


  1. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together everything except bread.  
  3. Put bread in baking dish and let sit for 30 minutes (you can let it soak overnight if you'd prefer.  It actually tastes better that way)
  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55-65 minutes until a knife come out clean.  
  5. Serve with warm sugar-free maple syrup.

Let's get back to dinner!  I normally have both mashed white and sweet potatoes on the table.  I have found a perfect recipe for gravy.  For veggies we have green beans with mushrooms and onions, broccoli, and rolls.   Normally I buy frozen rolls but, since I have discovered my soy intolerance I am going to have to make rolls.  

Mashed Potatoes (or Mashed Sweet Potatoes)
2 potatoes per person 
Fat Free Cream cheese
Skim Milk

  1. Peel and quarter the potatoes.  Place in a pot and cover with water.
  2. Boil for about 20 minutes or until tender. (Sweet potatoes take a bit longer)
  3. Drain, place back into pot and mash.
  4. Add milk and cream cheese and stir until creamy and smooth.

Green Beans with Mushrooms and Onions
16 oz frozen green beans
16-24 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 bag pearl onions


  1. Saute mushrooms until soft, set aside
  2. Cook green beans according to package directions.  Boil pearl onions with the green beans.
  3. Toss everything together.
There are 2 ways to do your gravy.  They are both super simple and easy.  The mushrooms and onions are optional but, I like it.  I feel like they replace the giblets that my mom used to put in her gravy.
For both recipes
16 oz mushrooms, sliced
1-2 onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic, either minced, or sliced


  1. Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic until the vegetables are soft, and the onion is translucent

Vegetable broth


  1. Bring desired amount of broth to a boil
  2. In a separate bowl mix together 1 T cornstarch and 1 T water per cup of broth
  3. Whisk cornstarch slurry into broth, bring back to a boil and simmer until thickened.  If it isn't as thick as you'd like it then mix together another tablespoon cornstarch with a tablespoon water and whisk in.  
  4. Mix in mushroom, onion mixture
Lipton Mushroom Onion Soup Mix

  1. Follow directions on box.
  2. Add in mushrooms and onions

Herb Dinner Rolls
2.5 - 3 cups flour (I combine whole wheat and white)
.75 cup water
.25 cup skim milk
1 T sugar
1 package (2.25 t) yeast
1-2 T herbs of your choice (I normally use garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, thyme, and sometimes dill) 

  1. Heat milk and water between 105 and 110 degrees 
  2. Add sugar and yeast.  Let sit for 5 minutes
  3. In a separate bowl add 2.5 cups flour and herbs
  4. Add water mixture to the flour mixture and stir together.
  5. Place in a cool dark place to rise for 45-60 minutes
  6. Put dough on a floured cutting board, or a stand mixer after it's risen.
  7. If dough is still sticky add more flour until it's no longer sticky and knead for about 5-7 minutes until dough forms a smooth ball.
  8. Divide dough into 4 sections, then divide into 4 more sections.  
  9. For regular rolls, evenly spread dough balls on a greased cookie sheet.  For cloverleaf rolls divide each of the 16 balls into 3 again.  Place 3 pieces into 16 greased muffin tin.
  10. Let them rise again for another 20 minutes  
  11. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-20 minutes until the outside is brown and the inside is flaky.   
And lastly, dessert!  I found this recipe when I was doing a photo series for Food Holidays.  October 21st is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day.  I made this and it was a major hit in our house so, it became the Thanksgiving dessert.  After I became sick I stopped using a crust and switched everything to fat free.  It's adapted from Paula Deen's Pumpkin Cheesecake.

Fat Free Pumpkin Cheesecake
3 (8 oz) packages fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15 oz) can pureed pumpkin
egg substitute (or egg whites) equivalent to 3 eggs
.25 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1.5 cups sugar (you can do half white and half brown for a more pie-like taste)
.5 t cinnamon
.125 t cloves
2 T flour
1 t vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add all the other ingredients, stir until combined
  3. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan, and bake for 1 hour.  
  4. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes.  
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours until cold.
You can also prepare your cheesecake in a bain marie (water bath.) 
  1. Line springform pan with tin foil.  
  2. Pour in cheesecake batter.
  3. Place springform pan in a roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan so it comes about halfway up the springform.
  4. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 70-75 minutes.
  5. Remove from water bath, and cool on rack until barely warm
  6. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

That's it!  That's my menu!  What's on yours?  Anything exciting?  What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

There's an App for That!

I'm not going to lie, I'm an app junkie.  I download a ton of apps and if they are good I keep them, if they suck they're deleted in about 24 hours.  My favorite apps are fitness ones.  So when I got the chance to a new fitness app called The Fitness Games (or TGF for short) I was super excited.  And I'm also excited to tell you that after 3 weeks, it's still on my phone.  

The app was created by 2 nationally certified trainers.  They created the app so that there would be a fitness tool that is both fun and motivating.  

This app blends 3 things that I love, fitness, gaming (also addicted to Farm Heroes), and Social Media.  You can challenge anyone, anywhere to any type of workout.  You can also post videos and pictures,  Every usr can create their own workout or choose from the 50+ already made workouts.  You can challeneg yourself, a friend, or someone random.  There are 4 different types of workouts; cardio, strength, full body, and cross training.  You can level up and unlock more workouts.  All the workouts you perform are tracked and saved so you can see your progress over time.  

I know alot of people love to take their "selfies" at the gym.  There's a Gym Selfie button!  

With the holidays (and winter in general) coming up, this app is great.  You can workout no matter where you are.  Stuck inside during a snowstorm?  Open TGF and pick a challenge!  Too busy Christmas shopping to goto the gym?  After you get home, open TGF and pick a challenge!  Thanksgiving morning?  Pick a challenge!    

Here are some screen shots.

What are your favorite types of apps?  Does this seem like something you'd be interested in?

 I received the opportunity to review The Fitness Games App through my ambassadorship with Fit Approach. I received the Platinum version of the app to review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Appreciate Yourself

Recently I've been having some issues appreciating myself.  Life can be cruel.  I've reached a point in my life where I have hopes, dreams, and goals.  I want to be more than just a mom.  And, {not to toot my own horn but,} I'm good at what I'm trained to do.  I'm a damn good health & wellness consultant and a personal trainer.  But nobody wants to see how good I am.  When you live in a small town, it's hard to start things, hard to make yourself noticed.  And finding a job is a double edged sword.  They want someone with experience but, you can't get experience without a job.  You have to find that one person who'swilling to give you a shot.  

After filling out 240,368,652 and going to a bunch job interviews and not getting hired you start feeling unappreciated, and honestly it makes you question yourself.  When this happens you need to take some time, and remind yourself about things about yourself you should appreciate.  I'm re-learning to appreciate myself.  

I found a list on of 30 things to appreciate about yourself.

The Good Things You Do for You

1. You let yourself learn new things, which helps you grow and contribute to the world.
2. You do good things for your body, like exercising and eating healthy foods (even if not always).
3. You honor your life by making healthcare a priority.
4. You take time away from work to simply be, which allows you to feel balanced.
5. You bounce back from bad days and disappointments.
6. You do what’s right for you, even if it’s not easy to say no to other people (and even if you occasionally people please).
7. You choose to be around people who make you feel good about yourself.
8. You work toward goals that make you feel passionate and purposeful.
9. You smile, which benefits both you and the people around you.
10. You give yourself the sleep you need to feel energized and balanced each day (even you sometimes need to get better sleep).

The Good Things You Do for Other People

1. You have good intentions.
2. You accept people for who they are and try to keep an open mind.
3. You make people laugh, whether you have a dry humor, an acerbic wit, or a caricature-like personality.
4. You listen to the people when they need an ear.
5. You’re compassionate toward other people.
6. You make selfless decisions to look out for the people you love, even if not always.
7. You forgive people when they make mistakes, even if sometimes it’s hard.
8. You vocalize it when you notice something you value, admire, or appreciate in someone else.
9. You help other people reach their potential.
10. You’re honest with people, even if sometimes vulnerability feels scary.

The Good Things You Do for the World

1. You care about your work, or something you do outside it, and you do it passionately.
2. You want to make a difference.
3. You vote to create positive change.
4. You recycle to preserve our natural resources.
5. You choose not to litter.
6. If you’re a parent, you’re shaping the next generation.
7. You give back, whether that means volunteering, donating old clothes, or simply helping a stranger in need.
8. You call for help when you see something potentially hazardous.
9. You teach something valuable to someone every day, whether you realize it or not.
10. You make positive changes in yourself—and being the change you want to see is the best way to change the world.
And one last one: You’re great, you’re wonderful, and everybody likes you. (Okay, so that one was Rodney Dangerfield, but it felt apropos!)

What do you do to show yourself some appreciation?  Let me know.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Veggie Nachos. Sneaky Sneaky

Inevitably the kids gets hungry 10-15 minutes before dinner.  Don't you love when that happens??  It's always nice to have a recipe that is super quick and will subdue the hungry troops when dinner is taking longer than expected.  

Even with appetizers I like them to be nutritionally well rounded.  Canned vegetables are great to keep on hand to add to your dishes.  The one thing that bugs me about canned vegetables is the amount of space they take up.  My pantry is pretty small and with a family of 5 it's normally pretty packed.  

Trying to keep lots of cans in my pantry is like trying to keep a toddler still.  It's difficult.  That's the nice thing about Libby's new line of Vegetable Pouches.  They are a time saving solution for healthier meals.  Libby's is introducing 5 vegetables, sliced carrots, sweet peas, cut green eans, mixed vegetables and sweet corn.  They are all shelf-stable and microwaveable.  They don't take up as mich space as cans.  1 can takes up as much room as 2 or 3 pouches.  This new line is great for some other reasons too.

  1. The packaging is microwavable and cooks in less than 1 minute {Gotta love quick foods!} 
  2. It's flexible and has no sharp edges  {Great when you have a young child who wants to help}
  3. They won't dent {Which means you'll never have an issue opening them}
  4. They stand up {No rolling away}
  5. Environmentally friendly:  Uses 75% less energy to produce ouch packaging.  Waste is easily compressed, which reduced home disposal and landfills {Love saving Mother Earth}
  6. Easy-to-open, easy-to-carry {great when you're juggling a baby and dinner}
  7. Packaging made with BPA non-intent materials
They will be rolling out in select Walmarts this fall and will be available nationwide in January.  

Libby's challenged me to create a dish that takes less than 10 minutes using their new Vegetable Pouches.  I received free samples of Libby's new Vegetable Pouches and by posting this recipe I am eligible to win prizes associated with this contest.  I was not compensated for my time.   

So back to my hungry kids.  One of their favorite appetizers is nachos.  These nachos are packed with vitamins and minerals.

Veggie Packed Nachos
1 cup of cheese sauce/1 cup of shredded reduced fat cheese
1 cup of salsa
1 package of Libby's Vegetable Pouch Sweet Corn
1 package of Libby's Vegetable Pouch Cut Green Beans
1 package of Libby's Vegetable Pouch Sweet Peas
Tortilla chips (store bought or homemade)
Fat Free Sour Cream (optional)
Sliced Jalapenos (optional)

  1. In a microwavable bowl put the cheese sauce or cheese and the salsa.  Microwave on high 2-4 minutes, stirring every 20-60 seconds until the cheese melts.
  2. Heat the Libby's Vegetable Pouches Sweet Corn, Cut Green Beans and Sweet Peas according to the package directions, drain and add to the cheese, salsa mixture.
  3. Stir to coat the vegetables with the cheese sauce.
  4. Place a layer of tortilla chips on a plate, pour half the cheese sauce over chips, place another layer of chips, then the rest of the cheese sauce.  Top with sour cream and jalapenos if you want.
In under 10 minutes you have a healthy appetizer that will make the whole family happy.

Do you have any 10 minute recipes that your family loves?

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm BACK!!!

My last post was October 14th!  Has it really been almost a month since I last talked to you guys?  Well, I'm back, and ready to go.  This past month I've been dealing with an infected wisdom tooth.  Trust me when I say the pain is no joke!  If you've never dealt with one then let me tell you, it's worse than being in labor.  I've had 3 kids with no epidural and I'd happily have another one rather than deal with my teeth again. 

Whenever I go on hiatus I always have a difficult time figuring out how to approach coming back.  Do I ignore my absence and act like it never happened?  Or do I explain it?  Obviously I chose to explain it.  In addition to not writing on here, I also haven't been to the gym in 2 weeks.  

At the gym today it was really sad to see how much strength I've lost in the past 2 weeks.  I was lifting 20+ pounds LESS than I normally do.  But, in the next 3 weeks I plan on reversing that and {hopefully} increase my strength and beat all my personal bests.  I'm challenging myself to make this happen before Thanksgiving.  So, for the next 24 days I will be pushing myself.  I'm going to earn my Thanksgiving dinner!

So here's my weekly split:

Monday -- Cardio
Tuesday -- Quads/Glutes/Abs
Wednesday -- Back/Biceps
Thursday -- Hamstrings/Abs
Friday -- Cardio
Saturday -- Chest/Abs/Tri
Sunday -- Cardio/Rest

On Saturday and Sunday I'm starting to train Kaylee, my oldest.  So she will be coming to the gym with me.  So every week I'm going to give y'all a few workouts that you can do at home or at the gym and I'm going to include cross-training tips for swimmers.  

Do you have any goals for the month?  What are they?  Let me know!