Operation Nutrition

nutrition, fitness, motherhood, & everything in between

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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How My Essential Oils Journey Began

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you’re having a nice weekend. I thought I’d share with you how I got started with essential oils. I’ve been part of an online moms group since my daughter was born. We all have kids that were born the same month and year. It is made up of women all over the world (it’s really an incredible & helpful group). Anyway, someone mentioned that they noticed their baby was sleeping better when they diffused lavender in her room. I was intrigued because my little one has never been a great sleeper (better sleep? sign me up!).  However, I’m extremely particular when it comes to using nontoxic & natural products.

At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about essential oils. So, I basically started researching, and researching, and researching. Not only did I research essential oils, but companies that are involved with making them. Like I said, I’m very particular (some may even call it obsessive…I’m okay with that). During my research, I discovered that there are many companies/brands out there that claim their oils are “pure” and “safe”, when in fact, they are mostly made up of synthetic ingredients (the exact same thing I’m trying to avoid).

After 8 months of researching every possible aspect of essential oils, I chose to purchase my essential oils from Young Living. I was so impressed with their extremely stringent “Seed to Seal” process. From planting the seeds, to cultivating, to distilling, to testing, and finally to sealing the finalized product, Young Living produces the highest quality oils.

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Did you know that you can even visit their farms to see firsthand how the oils are produced?!?!?! Here is a picture of Young Living’s Whispering Springs Farm in Utah.

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When I decided to purchase my oils, I had a few oils in mind (4 oils to be exact). The cost for the 4 that I selected was over $100. Since I never used essential oils before, I also needed to buy a diffuser. This would’ve brought my total to $200+. I still wanted the oils, but I couldn’t see spending that much on just 4 bottles and a diffuser. It was then that I discovered the Premium Starter Kit. Not only did it come with these (most used) oils:

    • Lavender
    • Peppermint Vitality™
    • Lemon Vitality™
    • Copaiba Vitality™
    • Frankincense
    • Thieves® Vitality™
    • Purification®
    • R.C.™
    • DiGize™ Vitality™
    • PanAway®

but it also came with a FREE bottle of Stress Away™ and a diffuser!!!!! The kit also came with samples, a roller fitment (so you can roll some of the oils directly from the bottle onto your skin), 2 of their drink samples, a product guide, an essential oils magazine, and more! All of this was just $160. Aside from the essential oils purity (since you already know I love that), I also like how the company offers discounts and rewards points (these allow you to get FREE products).  I definitely couldn’t pass this up, so I went ahead and purchased the kit.

When I bought the kit, I was adamant about not wanting to make any kind of commitment to future purchases (after all, this was my first time using essential oils and I didn’t even know if they’d be a good fit for me). During checkout, I was confused because it gives you the option to “become a member”.  I had to contact someone to verify that becoming a member didn’t hold any future obligations (turns out, all that it means is that you’ll pay wholesale prices if you sign up to be a member, nothing more, nothing less). Aside from the essential oils purity (since you already know I love that), I also like how the company offers discounts and rewards points (these allow you to get FREE products).

I received my kit and fell in love. I love sharing my recipes for natural and safe products that I make using my essential oils. I also love sharing how essential oils have improved my overall health.

Now, I’m continuing my research and finding even more ways to use essential oils. I’ve made some incredible products using my oils and other natural ingredients.

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It feels reassuring knowing that the products my family uses are nontoxic and safe. Since I love sharing this information, this is the page where I’ll be sharing recipes for all kinds of products.

If you have any questions about essential oils, please feel free to contact me (you can email me or leave a comment here in this post). Also, if you’d like to begin your essential oils journey, I’d love to help you get started. Email me at info@operationnutrition.com

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Blog Make-Over

Hi friends! My last post was in April! Holy smokes! I’m not even sure how many people are still reading here. I obviously took a break from writing. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to write, but rather, I didn’t make the time to write. But the truth is, I missed it. A lot. So, I’m back and will be posting more frequently. But, this time my posts will probably be a little different.

As you can see, Operation Nutrition has undergone a make-over.

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Not only did I want to make-over the appearance here, but I also want to change up the content a bit. I feel like I’m at a different place in my life than I was when I first started blogging in 2010.

I still have the same passions I had when this blog started. I’m most definitely still into nutrition, fitness, and all around healthy living (probably more now than ever since having a baby). But, as we all do in life, we evolve. My plans for the blog are to include all of the same topics that I’ve always written about, but sometimes I will also include my love for essential oils and random posts about motherhood. Another aspect that will be a little more different here will be that I will write more “openly”. Over the past 6 years, I’ve also grown in the sense that I no longer worry about what others think of me. Let me explain, I felt like when I first began blogging, I censored my own posts (for fear of unwanted criticism). For instance, if I posted a recipe that wasn’t 100% nutritious or “clean”, I worried that I wasn’t being “healthy enough”. If I posted that I was using a product that wasn’t completely toxic-free, I worried that people would say I’m a hypocrite since I write about my journey using nontoxic products. And so on. When I started to censor my own writing, blogging wasn’t enjoyable anymore. It was almost a chore.

I was always honest in my blog posts, but I always “had a wall up” (which was exhausting).  Now that I’m older, I realize that I no longer need to censor my work. I am who I am and I love who I am. I’m not perfect and I will never claim to be. I will feature recipes that I love (even if they are not the healthiest options). Operation Nutrition is a place for me to share the things that I love and my personal journey finding that healthy balance in all aspects of my life.

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I’m so excited for the new & improved Operation Nutrition. Smile  Whether you’re a brand new reader, or a long time reader, I hope you enjoy reading here.

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Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Hi friends! I hope you’re having a nice week. We’ve had such a fun and busy week. I finally tried out a new recipe! We’ve been in such a food rut lately (this explains the lack of blog posts), so I wanted to try something new. I’m so happy I gave this one from Cooking Light a try. It was SO easy to make and absolutely delicious. This will be in our regular dinner rotation for sure. From start to finish, it took about 20 minutes.  IMG_3380

 Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos

Servings: 4 (1 serving is 2 tacos)
Calories: 302
Fat: 9.5 g
Carbs: 30 g
Protein: 22 g

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

  • 2 (6 oz.) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. wing sauce (I used Frank’s )
  • 1 tsp. melted butter
  • 2 tbsp. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Directions:

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat (or heat outside grill). Cut chicken in half horizontally (to create 4 cutlets). Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper to taste. Grill chicken for about 3 minutes on each side (or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees).

Time saver tip: While chicken is cooking, prep your sauces.

Combine hot sauce and melted butter in a bowl; whisk until blended. Set aside.

Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, and cheese in a bowl, mashing with a fork. Set aside.

Remove chicken from grill and cut into thin slices. Add chicken to bowl of hot sauce.

Add lettuce to bowl of cheese mixture.

Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas; top with lettuce mixture. Enjoy!

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Nature’s Promise: Organic

A couple of weeks ago, I received a nice surprise in the mail from Giant Foods. They were kind enough to send me some products from their very own organic line.

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My family eats organic foods about 90% of the time.  I feel like more and more consumers are aware of the health benefits of eating organically. It’s so great to see major grocery store chains carrying more organic products. Giant Foods line is called, “Nature’s Promise”. Here’s some more information about what makes something organic (source: Giant Foods).

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I loved everything they sent me (especially the peanut butter). You can tell that they use high quality ingredients. I especially love that their organic line is very affordable. If you live near a Giant Food Store, I highly recommend that you check out their extensive Nature’s Promise product line.

Full disclosure: Giant Foods sent me the products to sample. However, this review and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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