Operation Nutrition

nutrition, fitness, motherhood, & everything in between

Vanilla Berry Smoothie

Happy Friday, everyone! I have a new smoothie recipe for you. It was delicious & very filling. But, the best part is that I tried a new-to-me ingredient (if you saw my post on Instagram, then you already know that it is frozen cauliflower). I’ve been seeing people use this in their morning smoothies, but I was really apprehensive to give it a try. It’s funny because this is the same way I felt when I first tried putting spinach in my Green Monster shakes. I was certain that I’d taste the cauliflower and be extremely grossed out, but I couldn’t taste it at all. IMG_6640Here’s the recipe for 1 serving:

  • 10 oz. milk (you can use any kind of milk you like, I used 2% dairy milk)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used “Tone It Up” vanilla)
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower
  • 3/4 cup frozen cherries

Directions: Blend until thoroughly mixed & enjoy!

I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding frozen cauliflower to all of my smoothies now which is a good thing because it has so many health benefits. It provides an excellent source of vitamins & minerals (vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, & potassium). It’s high in fiber & antioxidants.

If you give it a try, let me know what you think. Smile

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Bikini Series 2017

Hi there! I wanted to share my latest journey in fitness and nutrition! I recently signed up to do the Tone It Up 2017 Bikini Series.

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(Full disclosure, I’ve signed up for some of their previous challenges in the past and didn’t complete them).

Looking back, I know that I stopped the challenges in the past because the amount of time required to exercise wasn’t realistic for me.

This year’s challenge has been perfect though. The workouts vary in length, but they average around 35 minutes. This is totally doable with my schedule. Today marks the start of Week 2 and I’m feeling amazing! I’m not following the Tone It Up meal plan though because I find it way too restrictive for the amount of activity I do each day. I’ve been following the Fitness Blender’s meal plan (mostly for dinner ideas), and I really like it. It focuses on whole foods, healthy fats, lean protein, vegetables, and fruit. It’s a very realistic plan to follow and I definitely don’t feel deprived. In fact, I’ve actually increased my calorie-intake. I was so surprised to see that I’ve lost 3 pounds after the first week and I’m always feeling comfortably full.

These are some of the meals I’ve been enjoying this week:

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One of the things that has really helped me with this challenge is planning. On Sunday, I write out my meals & workouts for the week. So far this has helped me stay on track. I am looking forward to completing this challenge. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the journey!  If you’re looking to start a weight-loss program, or just trying to live a healthier lifestyle, you might find this article,  “How To Lose Weight Fast: 5 Evidence Based Steps Anyone Can Follow” to be a great resource. It lists 5 easy-to-follow steps that will help you reach your health goals.

Are you doing the 2017 Bikini Series? I’d love to hear how things are going for you!

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Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Cake

Hi there! I haven’t made many new recipes lately because this household has been battling some nasty colds over the past month. We’ve resorted to lots of chicken noodle soup, miso soup, and pizza (because pizza make everyone feel better, right?). Smile I’ve also been dealing with toddler eating (or lack thereof). I think S’s eating has been all over the place due to cutting her 2-year molars, not feeling well, and overall sporadic eating patterns.  Now that we are all on the mend, I’m trying to get a little more creative in the kitchen.

This morning I searched the internet for  some healthy dessert like breakfast recipes. I found one that looked amazing. When I clicked on it, I was excited to see that it was actually written by one of my favorite bloggers, Amanda, from “Running With Spoons”. I knew it would be delicious! I pretty much followed her recipe, but made just a few modifications. I didn’t realize we were out of vanilla extract, so I omitted it. I also added just a few more chocolate chips and I used old-fashion oats rather than quick oats. You can check out her original recipe (and beautiful pictures) here.

Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Cake

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Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make 2 cakes:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp. mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a blender, blend together the oats, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Blend until oats become a flourlike consistency.
  • Add remaining ingredients (except for the chocolate chips) to the blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into 2 ramekins.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the comes out clean). Let sit for about 5 minutes to cool.
  • Enjoy!

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Look at how delicious & gooey this cake is! Yum! Toddler & mommy approved, too! Smile

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DIY: Sleepy Time Foaming Bath Soap

I wanted to share this super easy recipe with you. If you have little ones that need a some extra help unwinding before bedtime, you’re going to want to make this soap! As a bonus, it has absolutely no harmful chemicals & is safe for the most sensitive skin.

Before I started researching essential oils, I thought people just used them in their homes to make it smell good. When I heard that people added them to their personal care products, I also thought it was just to make them smell good.

Little did I know that essential oils have an incredible therapeutic affect on our health.  Yes, they can make our houses & products smell good, but the number of ways that essential oils can support our health is mind-blowing.

After researching essential oils that support relaxation & promote sleep, I started experimenting with some of these oils. The first oil I tried was lavender. After about 1 month of diffusing lavender and having no luck getting my daughter to sleep, I knew I needed to try something else. It turns out, lavender can actually have the opposite affect on some people. Instead of providing a calming & relaxing feeling, it can actually make people feel alert & awake. Lavender does this to both me and my daughter (needless to say, we don’t diffuse this at bedtime anymore).

The 2 essential oils that have worked WONDERS for us for promoting sleep are Cedarwood & Vetiver. Here is a little information about each of these essential oils.

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I think it’s important to note that prior to making this recipe, I used each oil individually to see how my daughter would react. At first, I used this recipe with only the Cedarwood oil. It worked! Sleep was happening! After we finished the bottle of soap (which was about a month later), I made the recipe with just the vetiver oil. And again, it worked! So, now that I knew both of these oils were excellent with supporting a good night’s sleep, I decided to make a batch of soap with both oils. I wanted to keep Cedarwood in the recipe because of it’s amazing skin benefits (especially during a cold winter with lots of dry skin).  And that, my friends, is how this recipe came about.

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Directions:

1. In a foaming hand soap dispenser, add the soap, vegetable glycerin, jojoba oil, & essential oils.

2. Give it a little swirl to mix the ingredients.

3. Enjoy!

When using essential oils topically, it is extremely important to dilute them with a carrier oil (especially when used on children). Not sure how many drops to use or what carrier oil is best? Send me an email & I’ll be happy to share that information with you.

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Instant Pot

Hi friends! I hope 2017 is off to a great start for you! So far, I’ve done really well with my nutrition goals (more veggies, more protein, & less processed junk). My fitness routine has been great too! I’ll be sharing more of that with you next week.

In the meantime, I have to share the kitchen appliance that is helping to make dinnertime a breeze (while also helping my family stick to healthy home cooked meals). The Instant Pot has been nothing short of amazing!

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I’ve had my eye on an Instant Pot for the past 4 months. In fact,  it has been in my Amazon shopping cart for awhile. I was waiting for the price to drop before making the purchase. On Thanksgiving, the price dropped from $99 down to $59, so I went ahead and bought it.  I am pretty sure this is my all-time favorite kitchen appliance!

If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s an electric pressure cooker. You can do all sorts of amazing things with it. You can use it like you would a rice cooker, slow cooker, or steamer. You can also sauté and brown things in it. But the most important feature is that it cooks meals faster with less energy while preserving more nutrients.

I cannot tell you how many times we planned to have chicken for dinner, but I forgot to take it out of the freezer. It drives me crazy when this happens. Well, with the Instant Pot, it doesn’t matter. You can cook frozen chicken breasts in it and it only takes 25 minutes!

Here are a few meals I’ve made using my Instant Pot:IMG_5848 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve made turkey meatballs & spaghetti (6 minutes), white chicken chili (25 minutes), and BBQ pulled pork (25 minutes). Our favorite was the BBQ pulled pork. I’ll be sharing the recipe with you guys, but I have to make it again to record all of the ingredients.

Tonight, I’m going to make a red lentil butternut squash soup in it. Hopefully, it’ll turn out as good as everything else has.

Have you tried the Instant Pot? If so, what is your favorite meal to make in it?

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Strategies for Sticking to Your Workout Routine

Happy New Year! Many of us have set healthy goals for ourselves for 2017. You can read about my 2017 fitness goals here. For me, it’s pretty easy setting goals for myself. The hardest part is sticking to them.

Here are some strategies for sticking to your workout routine.

Whether you decide to start working out more often thanks to a New Year’s resolution or another reason or you have been exercising regularly for years, it can sometimes be tough to get your feet out the door and have it be a habit that you keep and that you continue for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, you can take advantage of several methods to get that extra jump back in your step.

Positive Visualization

The experiences that we imagine for ourselves are what invariably end up resulting, and many people who have trouble sticking with a workout routine are those who keep on visualizing themselves not being active for one reason or another. Change that mindset and start visualizing yourself as becoming – or continuing as – an active person, one who sticks to a workout routine and who is better because of it.

Think of The Example You are Setting

If you have people that look to you as a role model, particularly if you have children, remember that everything that you do sets an example for them, and this includes how physically active you are. Thinking of exercise as something that you do for others, not just for yourself, can really help propel you out the door and into a more physically healthy routine.

Set a Goal

If running is part of your workout routine, picking a race is a perfect way to stay motivated. You can choose a local race or even pick one that would require a road trip, maybe even an overnight stay, in a city that is on the other side of the state or perhaps even the other side of the world. Regardless of the goal, having something specific to push towards has been proven to keep people more motivated and result in them being more successful than not.

Of course, this strategy can still be used even if you are not interested in running a race. Plenty of competitions revolving around swimming or bicycling also take place all around the world while you could also do something like have a healthy weight-loss target or make your ways towards a goal of walking a certain amount for a number of times a week, lifting a specific weight, something like that.

Make sure that the goal is a mix of being a challenge while being realistic as well. If you realize that your goal is not at all realistic, feel free to adjust it. You want to be challenged; you don’t want to be demoralized.

Insert Workouts Into Your Schedule

Start treating workouts as an integral part of your day, of your week. You have to be at work at 8 a.m.? Children need to be picked up in the afternoon? Your run or workout session should be treated similarly. It’s even better if you can do it at the same time every day although it is understandable if your life is not as structured as would be necessary to allow that. But whenever you do schedule it in, stick to that time.

If you can do it then, morning or mid-day workouts have specific benefits in that they tend to energize you for the rest of the day. However, evening sessions are great too if that’s the time that you have free or are most motivated.

But Don’t Be Too Structured!

Of course, when you work out can remain structured, but the types of workouts that you do should vary at least a little, or you may end up bored or, worse, burned out. Make sure to incorporate fun, relaxing workouts as well as intense ones and more run-of-the-mill workouts. And change up what you do. For example, if you are training for a 5K or longer race, incorporate things like bicycling, dancing, basketball or volleyball, things to break up the monotony.

More Visualization

As you are going to sleep, visualize as specifically as possible your workout for the following day. If you’re going to work out first thing in the morning, you can even leave out some Fabletics clothes so that you can sleepily roll out of bed, put them on and step out the door before you fully wake up.

Check out this adorable outfit!

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Whenever you are going to exercise, visualize every step of the process as vividly as you can, from dressing to warming up to the workout itself and then the cool down. This works in all aspects of your life, and that includes the workouts that you have scheduled into your days.

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

If possible, surround yourself with supportive people. Of course, don’t let unsupportive family members stop you from stepping out the door, but it does help if they back you. Also consider working out with like-minded people who want to get into and continue exercising on a regular basis as well. Knowing that a friend is waiting to go on that run with you is a very strong motivating tool.

This post is sponsored by Fabletics

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Fitness Now & 2017 Goals

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice holiday. Our Christmas was wonderful. I’ve always loved Christmas, but I love it even more since having my daughter. Seeing Christmas through a toddler’s eyes is truly magical.  As 2016 winds down, I wanted to share my personal fitness goals for the upcoming year.

In 2016, I was fairly consistent with my workouts. A typical week consisted of 3 full body strength training days, and 2 or 3 days of cardio. My cardio workouts were a combination of Zumba, running (not as much as I would’ve liked to do), LISS, and HIIT. Some weeks I got 5-6 workouts in and other weeks I would only manage 3 days. Even though, I stayed pretty consistent, I haven’t reached my personal fat loss goal. I don’t really focus on the scale that much, but I do weigh myself every few weeks. I mostly take my measurements and gauge how my clothes fit to determine how my body is changing.

This past year, my body has been fluctuating due to hormonal imbalances. When I was nursing my daughter, my body fat was lower and I was losing inches. As soon as I stopped nursing, my body stored every ounce of fat (as if a switch went off). Despite my healthy eating and exercising, my body continued to hold on to the unwanted body fat. This upcoming year, I am determined to lose it. So, I thought I’d share my goals on here as a way to hold myself accountable.

Here are my 2017 fitness goals:

  • Run at least once a week (preferably outside)
  • Exercise 5-6 days a week
  • Strength train 3 times a week
  • Zumba once a week
  • Lose body fat

I have some really fun (and new) things that I’ll be doing in 2017 to help me reach my goals.

First, I’m taking part in Young Living’s 60-day Slique Challenge.

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Young Living has an incredible product line called, “Slique”. The Slique Essence  (which is the supplement that I’ll be taking) combines the following essential oils: grapefruit, tangerine, lemon, spearmint, and ocotea.

Some of these oils help to:

  • support healthy digestion
  • control craving
  • provide powerful antioxidants

For 60 days, you pair your Slique supplement with a nutritious diet & regular exercise. Young Living will be giving away fun prizes to everyone that participates. In addition, they are offering some amazing prizes to people that have the biggest transformations. You can read more about the challenge here.

The other fun thing I’m going to be doing is the 2017 Tone It Up Challenge.

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The Challenge starts on January 1st and it will run for 6 weeks. Karena & Katrina from “Tone It Up” will be providing a meal plan & workout plan. I’m really looking forward to trying something new (as I am getting bored with my own workout routine).

What are some of your 2017 Fitness Goals? I’d love to hear them!

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Homemade Holiday Hand Soap

Happy Friday & happy December! I hope you had a nice holiday. Both of our Thanksgivings were really nice. The best dish was definitely my mom’s stuffing. I made it for the first time, but it was the only dish without an actual “recipe” (it was one of those, “add a bit of this, add a lot of this, etc.” kind of things. I made notes with exact measurements, so I hope to share it with you all soon.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that over the holiday, I made another new recipe (not one you can eat though) Smile.

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I have been making homemade foaming soap for awhile now, but since the colder weather is approaching and my hands get SO dry (I’m an obsessive hand washer), I needed to make a thicker/more moisturizing hand soap. I searched the Internet for some recipes and found one at Body unburdened. I pretty much followed this recipe, but made some adjustments to measurements since I was making a larger batch.

The result? It leaves my hands feeling clean and very moisturized. I love that my hands aren’t splitting from dry skin (like they normally start  to do around this time of year). It’s very inexpensive to make & it has all-natural/safe ingredients.

Here are the ingredient’s you’ll need to fill 2 medium-sized hand soap dispensers (pictured above):

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented)
  • 3 tbsp. of a carrier oil (I used a mixture of jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and vitamin E oil)
  • 2 leveled tsp. guar gum (I bought mine on Amazon); be sure not to use more than this or your soap will be too thick.
  • 30 drops of essential oils (I used peppermint, thieves,  & orange to create a nice holiday smell, but to also help with killing germs)

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk carrier oil with the guar gum until completely smooth.

2. In a large bowl, stir together water, castile soap, and essential oils.

3. Add the guar gum mixture to the water mixture. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Pour into hand soap dispensers.

*Tip* – Be sure to use a high-quality brand of essential oils, as some brands out there contain harmful ingredients (even though they claim to be “pure” and “organic”). The only brand I trust completely is Young Living. If you’d like more information about essential oils, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.

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Thanksgiving 2016

Happy Wednesday, friends! Chances are, you’ll be spending time today prepping some delicious food for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving feast! I figured I’d share some of the recipes we’ll be making. We’re making most of the food, but we did order 2 sides from Wegman’s.

B is smoking a turkey like he did last year. Here is the recipe we’re using again this year Smoked Turkey. Currently, the turkey is in the refrigerator brining. Check out this interesting set up going on. Smile  The brining bag kept falling over, so we used an old Pampers box to keep the sides from falling (so far so good).

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I’m also making my favorite macaroni and cheese recipe from this cookbook:

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I’ll be making my mother’s Sage Cranberry Stuffing. I’ve never made it before and there isn’t exactly a specific “recipe” (so I’m hoping it will turn out as delicious as hers does). If it turns out, I’ll post how to make it.

For dessert, I’ll be making pumpkin pie, apple pie, and streusel pumpkin cheesecake bars. I’m using the recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin can for the pumpkin pie. For the apple pie, I’m using the recipe from The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

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The Streusel Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars is a favorite recipe of mine.

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The other sides are coming from Wegman’s. We ordered their Cranberry-Orange Sauce (I tried to make my own and it wasn’t good at all).

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The other side we’re getting from Wegman’s is their Roasted Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach & Cranberries. It’s absolutely delicious!

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Some of our family is brining other dishes, so we should have a lot of delicious food!

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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Roasted Carrots

Hi friends, happy Tuesday! I hope you had a nice weekend. We spent time with family & we put up our Christmas tree! I know, I know….it’s not even Thanksgiving. Celebrating holidays has been so much more fun now that we have “S”.  It feels like we’re experiencing it for the first time along with her. Seeing her eyes light up when she saw the tree & other decorations was truly priceless. Hopefully, by putting it up so early, we’ll be able to enjoy it longer (and not feel like the holidays passed by so quickly).

We also picked up our CSA for the week. A few years ago, we were getting a weekly CSA, but then strayed away from it because we weren’t able to eat it all. I felt like we were wasting more than we ate. “B” and I figured we’d give it another try and really make an effort to eat every last fruit & vegetable. Not only does it help support local farmers, but it also is way less expensive than buying organic produce at the grocery store. Here is everything we got in our organic half share. All of this was $30.

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In order to make sure nothing went to waste, I planned all of our meals around the fruits & vegetables included in this week’s CSA. I’m excited because it is forcing me to make new recipes. It is also a way to ensure we’re eating enough veggies!

On Sunday night, I made a new-to-me recipe for roasted carrots. It was originally posted on the Food Network’s website. I pretty much followed the exact recipe & just made a few adjustments (since I was cooking a smaller portion). You can check out the original recipe here. It was super easy to make and was so delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 10 medium to small carrots (we has a mixture of white, orange, & purple)
  • 1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Slice the carrots diagonally in 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. (The carrots will shrink a lot, so be sure to make the slices big).

3. Place carrots into a Ziploc bag (or bowl), toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.

4. Transfer carrots to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone cooking mat.

5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until carrots are tender.

6. Enjoy!

I hope you have a great week!

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