Sunday Dinner

I’m always looking for new things to cook. My husband tells me just to cook the same thing every week but honestly I think then we would eat out a LOT! I get sick of the same stuff over and over so I’m always trying something new. I try to look for healthy recipes and here are some of my criteria:

  1. Protein– I always strive to have a dish with a lean protein. I vary between chicken, turkey, pork and beef and in that order. We eat a LOT of chicken and turkey. Fish is also great! I love salmon but I haven’t made a lot of fish lately.
  2. Vegetable- Each recipe has to include a vegetable preferably green or I make one to accompany it.
  3. Little to no carbs-  Not to say carbs are bad but I get enough carbs throughout the day without trying so we try not to have pasta, bread, potatoes, etc.
  4. No casseroles or heavy creams- I also try to look for things that typically aren’t casseroles. Even though things can be made from scratch that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Cookies, cakes, casseroles, etc I can make at home but they aren’t good for me. Typically casseroles have carbs and lots of processed sauces which are high in sodium

BOTTOM LINE: I try to eat protein and veggies (heavy on the veggies) and very little else especially for dinner.

That being said I have been using the site Skinnytaste to look for new recipes. We tried Zucchini Tots and Naked Greek Feta-Zucchini Burgers. Zucchini is one of those foods that is hard for me. You can find bread and goodies to make out of it but I have tried different ways to prepare it and don’t love it! If you have ideas please send them. My elderly neighbors in Michigan gave me a zucchini boat recipe and I always forget about it.

My pictures aren’t great and for the zucchini tots I didn’t have cheddar cheese so I used Italian blend. Oh I also try to avoid dairy in my food. Not that it’s all bad or anything I just find I feel better when I don’t include it!

So, What are some of your healthy zucchini recipes that you can share? How do you make your choices for what to cook for dinner? I’m excited to hear about you and learn more!

Jessica

7 Baby Steps to a Healthier You!

So I love helping others and one of the ways I do that is by helping people optimize their health, time, and finances to help them live more intentionally in the moments of life and I do that through a company called Shaklee. Through Shaklee, I coach people on various aspects of their lives. One of the biggest things I come across is people wanting to get healthy but becoming overwhelmed by all the information out there. So either they start and give up or they don’t even bother because they don’t know where to start.

I totally understand where people are coming from. I felt the same way too but I found I can do the best I can and forget the rest. So what are some things people can do to get on the right track? First of all, you have to know why you want to make changes you do. That way when the going gets tough you are reminded of your why and don’t get discouraged or give up. I also advocate to make sustainable changes. If you do something for 30 days or even 5 day and then you go back to what you were doing, you are always going to get the results you always got. Make a change for life! Most of my advice here is going to focus on lifestyle changes related to “diet.” Why? Because that is the most popular issue I find with people. I use the term “diet” loosely because we all have a “diet” good or bad!

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  1. Drink half your weight in ounces daily and eliminate all other drinks.

We consume so many of our calories in our drinks and they are EMPTY calories. They have little if any nutritional benefit. They just taste good. Also many of us our chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it. We don’t drink nearly enough water. There are apps to track your water intake or I like to calculate how much I need and then figure out how many of a certain bottle I need to drink. So pre pregnancy I weight 120 pounds. That means I need a minimum of 60 ounces of water. I have a 20oz water bottle so I drink one between breakfast and lunch, one between lunch and dinner, and one before bedtime. This make it much more manageable! Pregnant or say I’ve been very active I would need to drink more and make adjustments.

 

egg-1510449_1920.jpg2. Eat protein for breakfast.

I used to eat eggs for breakfast. I would have 1 whole egg and two whites with some cheese and veggies (usually left over steamed ones from the previous night) but I found that it didn’t keep me full and that’s when I went with a shake. Protein in the morning is really key. Some people have oatmeal or bagels or another carb but I have found benefit in having protein for breakfast. It keeps you fuller longer then other options.

vegetables-2135733_19203. Add more veggies and if you think you eat enough… ADD MORE

I thought I ate a lot of veggies until I read the book “The Wahls Protocol.” She developed a diet for people with autoimmune diseases and advocates for 9 cups of veggies a day! That is a TON of veggies but yet so important. I started searching for the various “diets” people use with great success and wanted to see what they all had in common. As you know some say high fat, others low fat, or no carb, or no meat, etc. Then I found this comparison chart. I noticed that all the diets had veggies in them and many emphasized them. I think sometimes veggies are under rated. As Michael Pollen says in “In Defense of Food.” Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

smoothie-drink-1966284_1920.jpg4. Eat Veggies for breakfast!

This goes along with the last one but many of us don’t eat veggies at lunch or dinner let along breakfast. To try to get in more veggie, I recommend a steamed veggie at dinner and have a few servings at least. You can always eat as many veggies as you want in a day. I don’t put limits on this but stress variety. I usually eat a large salad for lunch or have cut up raw veggies. There are so many great salads out there and you can make your own dressing which tastes so much better! Now how do you add veggies to breakfast? You can blend them into your morning shake/smoothie. You can also add the previous nights veggies to eggs as a scramble.

 

berries-1546125_1920.jpg5. Eat fruit for dessert!

I don’t know if you are like me but I like to have something sweet. So instead of convincing myself to not eat something sweet I have a bowl of berries or eat an apple. Sometimes I even do yogurt but am conscious of the brand because many are loaded with sugar. I have also made Chia Seed Pudding which is a nice treat. Not to say you can’t indulge but “real” treats should be at MAX once a week and preferably once a month. Trust me, I understand the struggle and I continue to work on this!

milk-1887234_19206. Cut Dairy

Many people might say  “but dairy is good for you and provides calcium”, but that all comes at a price and there are studies out there that don’t link dairy and bone health. Dairy often contains a decent amount of sugar and salt. Yogurt is a HUGE sugar culprit! It’s also the way that dairy is processed that makes it an issue. Dairy can cause a variety of issues for people from gas/bloating to joint issues and inflammation. I have chosen to drink almond milk instead and there are a lot of alternatives if you have to have ice cream or yogurt. Remember though when you make a change you shouldn’t be looking to replace it with “healthy” treats instead. Ice cream is ice cream and not particularly healthy whether its made with almond milk, coconut milk, or cow’s milk!

health-1810879_1920.jpg7. Limit or eliminate breads, grains, etc.

Some people choose to eliminate all grains, beans, bread, gluten etc. For me I try and limit it to one serving a day. I try to shy away from bread and go with brown/wild rice, beans, or potatoes. I have found that this just helps me feel good. We all can tend to overeat carbs and so when I reduce or eliminate them I feel so much better. I wish I could give you a solid answer on why but I can only guess it may have something to do with how it’s processed or what is sprayed on the grains before they are harvested.

Now you may disagree with my suggestions. Some of this I have learned from trial and error and some of it is from lots of reading/research I’ve done on various diets. Not everything is going to work for everyone. But one thing I can guarantee is that if you stick with a change you will see some sort of result! You can choose to go gluten free and another person dairy free. You have to find what works best for you and these are just guidelines. First, think of what your health goals are because that can dictate your diet as well! If you need help, I would LOVE to help you find a solution that works best for you and your lifestyle. So feel free to contact me!

Also check out: Facebook.com/stortzwellness this coming week I’m going to be posting a lot about “diets” and myths regarding health.

Jessica

 

Live Life Intentionally

I’m sure this seems like a dah statement but how many times do we just go through the motions of life? There have been several times where I have said “We need to go on vacation more.” or “We should…..” Why do we do this to ourselves and why do we make empty promises to ourselves. We say things like when we have more time, money, energy, or when the kids are older but still we don’t always do it!

Adam and I recently went on a trip to San Francisco. We had tried to go in the past and it didn’t work out. Childcare can be difficult. There have been trips we made plans for and then couldn’t go because childcare fell through. One thing we realized while on the trip was how much we enjoy spending time with one another and how little we get to do it! In the past 2-3 years we have taken 3 trips and really it’s only been partly because something pushed us to. We went to Disney a couple years ago because we got offered a deal we couldn’t refuse and then just made it work. We went to Florida and Sea World last year in order to attend a conference for a company I work for but it made it easier that we could deduct most of the trip on our taxes because it was for business! The trip to San Francisco was something I earned though work and we were able to add on a couple extra days for fun! BUT why didn’t we do it before. It was because it wasn’t a priority and we didn’t make a plan to make it happen.

As we reflected on our trip and life we started to realize that wonderful things don’t just “happen” to fall in people’s laps. People work hard and make their life what they want it to be. We all have different priorities and really travel had never been one of ours but things change.

So what can you do?

  1. Sit down with your spouse and make a list, DREAM, of all the things you want to do or places you want to go. You bet there is an app for that. https://www.bucketlist.org
  2. Pick 1-3 you want to do THIS YEAR
  3. Make a plan and make it happen!

Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t get it done. It’s ok. Life happens but start to think about living life and not just letting it happen to you!

Jessica

 

Mediterranean Chicken Bowls

So recently my husband and I had the privilege of going on an all expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay area for Shaklee. They served the most WONDERFUL food and we didn’t feel full and yucky because of what we ate! It was all HEALTHY and they served mostly fruit for dessert. Below is a picture of one of our lunches. As we assembled it, I thought, I can make this at home and so I did!

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First off, I have to say that this HUGE bowl is so important. I thought we had big bowls at home but this one is so much larger. I love it for salads and such and wish I could say where you could get one but Shaklee gifted these to us!

We started with the base. There were three options I made. Some of you may be thinking this is so much food and so overwhelming. We had friends coming over and really it was like making all the fixings for tacos. You could just make one of these as a base instead of all three.

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From Left to right: Red Quinoa, Cauliflower Rice, Cilantro Lime Brown Rice.

RED QUINOA- I had eaten quinoa before but never Red Quinoa. I cooked it according to the directions. Usually I soak it in water first and rinse it really well. You could cook it in vegetable broth or chicken broth as well to give it more flavor. Then I added dried cherries that I had chopped to it once it cooled. At the event, they added dried cranberries but I happened to be out so used dried cherries.

CAULIFLOWER RICE- I took a whole head of cauliflower and roughly chopped it and put it in the food processor and pulsed until it resembled rice. I then melted some infused olive oil with a little butter in a pan and sautéed it. I also add some minced garlic. Once it was cool I added chopped parsley.

CILANTRO LIME BROWN RICE- I cooked the brown rice per the directions and then added the juice of a couple small limes and chopped cilantro! This is one of my favorite flavor combinations!

Once you have your grain in the bottom of the bowl I then add some spring mix. I get a HUGE thing of organic spring mix at Aldi for about $3.50. That way if I don’t have time to chop lettuce and such that week I still can grab a healthy meal.

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You could put your protein either on top of the lettuce or at the very end. I chose to put my protein under my toppings. I marinated chicken in some Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette and then grilled it. At the Shaklee event they had Salmon as an option too. I suppose you could do what you would like there. We chopped our chicken into small pieces to make it easier for us and the kids to eat.

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Once we have the chicken in place then we can go nuts with toppings! Be sure to let me know what other toppings you would include. All of these are fairly self explanatory except the red pepper puree. I got that part from another recipe I tried before this bowl. I would also add to the list of toppings avocado, but I was out. Now looking at my first picture they also had hard boiled eggs too!

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Row 1 left to right: Black Beans, grape tomatoes halved, cucumber Row 2 left to right: red onion, chickpeas, feta Row 3 left to right: hummus, roasted red pepper puree, kalamata olives.

We absolutely LOVE infused vinegar and oils. They taste amazing and are so healthy for you. We first learned about them in Traverse City, Michigan at a place called Fustini’s which will ship to you if you don’t have a local place. Here in the Quad Cities we are fortunate that we have a place that sells them. It is the same distributor of these oils just a different label. Green Thumbers which is a local green house carries the oils and vinegar and it looks like you can buy it online as well. What I like about Green Thumbers is you can get a small sample bottle like I did of any flavor. If you go to either of these shops you can also taste them!

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Options include: traditional balsamic, raspberry balsamic, garlic infused olive oil, tuscan herb olive oil, Sicilian lemon white balsamic and fresh lemons and limes.

I did not take a picture of my completed bowl but it was a HUGE hit! We love these and I even thought if I made a huge batch with all the toppings we could then assemble them throughout the week for a healthy lunch each day.

I hope you enjoy them!

Jessica

The importance of photos

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Growing up my dad was always the one taking the photos. We ALWAYS moaned and groaned because we had to take another picture! Most of us take a TON of pictures of our kids but are we ever in any of the pictures? A couple of years ago we went to Disney and I forked over the dough for the PhotoPass. That way we could have our family pictures taken as much as we wanted and then download them at the end of our trip. This way I could be in the photos without having to always hand our phone over to a stranger. Why don’t I take more photos of myself? I don’t care about the way I look or I’m not the one doing something cute and funny! BUT after talking with another mom months ago who hated being in photos more then I, I had a realization.

See my dad died when I was pregnant with my first child. My mom died just about 1.5 years ago. When those things happen you tend to look through old photos to put on display and I realized there were photos of my parents but not a ton of them. There were more of my dad then my mom. Now these were the only link between me and them. My kids aren’t going to remember a lot of what we did growing up but they will be able to look at pictures. Although I was present at EVERY event, preparing, cheering, etc. will they remember? Probably not, so I feel it’s important to have pictures. Also they like to see us change and progress just as much as we want to see them change and progress throughout life. What better memories can we pass down to our kids?

So the next time you pull out your phone have someone else take the picture. Or do a crazy family selfie. Pass the camera around and even let the kids take pictures. Get everyone involved and take lots of pictures. You just never know when they will be all you have left of someone.

Jessica

My attitude SUCKS!

Warning: Raw feelings and thoughts ahead.

There I said it! Although I am realizing that I’m not the only one that struggles. I want, I want, I want. I want some peace and quiet. I want to go on vacation. I want to get some projects done. You get the idea. It struck me while I was in church last week that my attitude really sucks on many things but in particular on money. Adam and I honestly have never struggled with money but both of my parents filed for bankruptcy and it never seemed like we had enough money growing up. When I got my first “real” job in teaching I banked a ton of money and lived off a little. My parents and I each paid a third for college and I went to a state school. Adam had his college paid for and so we graduated with no debt and always contributed to 401Ks, 403Bs, Roth IRAs, etc. So why is money such an issue for me? Well it all boils down to FEAR! Fear of failure. Fear I won’t have enough. Fear I will make a mistake.

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This should come as no surprise because I suffer from anxiety. I learned something new about the word fear though. It stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. I have a tendency to over think EVERY thing. Really does worrying help anything? I either need to let it go or act because the way I manage my money is something I DO have control over to some degree. Its all about perspective. How do I view my own financial situation among other things?

I wrote this post about 6 month ago and never finished this and have more thoughts about my attitude and perspective. In regards to finances, I am a firm believer that we have money for what is important to us. We all want to have more then we have no matter the amount we make. We all make choices on what we can and cannot buy. It’s interesting when I say “I can’t afford X” but then I purchase Y. What I really mean is that wasn’t a priority and that is ok! I also personally need to come from a position of trust. We lay out a budget and need to stick with it. Of course things come up and we can deal with them. When we were first married it was a lot simpler but now there are so many moving parts it can be hard to keep track of. We really have no issues here it all just comes from my anxiety and background. I’m trying to learn to let loose and have fun sometimes and not obsess about how much everything costs! It sucks the fun right out of it!

As far as attitude in other parts of my life…. I’ve been squeezed a lot lately and I haven’t liked what has come out. We were at Target the other day and Adam and two of the girls were ahead of us and I was with Kayla. Kayla needed to stop because her foot hurt so I responded to a text. It became clear that her shoes were hurting her and she needed carried. She is heavy and Adam was ahead so I carried her as far as I could and then put her down. When we got to the car I opened the door and got in and closed mine and a few second later Kayla began screaming. She has put in hand on the door jam and I had closed my door on her fingers! I felt awful but was instantly angry and mostly at myself but when Maya tried to help I snapped at her and then left to get some ice. I mad that Adam didn’t stay back so he could cary Kayla and then mad at myself for not noticing her hand and then for snapping at Maya! I could go into more detail about events before this as well but don’t want to bore you but they all are very self centered and have to do with me and my worry and anxiety… BOTTOM LINE!

Tonight as we were going over finances I got upset again. We had fraudulent charges and had to cancel our credit card and get new ones. It was several phone calls and now we won’t have our credit card for our trip in a couple of days! We will also have to change all the places that automatically charge our credit card, which is a big headache. The list of little things goes on and so do my outbursts.

So what is the point of all this? There needs to be some change. I find I get like this when I have too many things happening or going on and the stress comes at me in little bits and pieces until they end up in a large heap. I also need to remove myself from the situation and look at it as if a stranger would and assess is this really that big of a deal? I’m a perfectionist and expect myself to be perfect but I can’t possibly be nor can anyone else. I need to give myself a little grace. Also I need to not assume the worst of people. In the case of Target Adam didn’t know I needed help. Maya was actually going to suggest we had an instant ice pack in the van but I didn’t listen. I admitted I messed up and apologized to everyone before we even left Target but still it could have been avoided.

Where do you see yourself being squeezed and what are your tips for dealing with it?

Thanks for listening to my raw, jumbled thoughts tonight.

Jessica

Grilled Greek Chicken Pitas

I LOVE to cook! BUT I also don’t like to eat the same thing all the time so if I make a recipe more than once I know I really LOVE it. That is the case with Grilled Greek Chicken Pitas.

I love that they are so light and great for either lunch or dinner! I usually cut up some fruit or maybe some salad or many times we just eat these pitas!

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So the chicken I marinade overnight or all day in either a Balsamic Vinaigrette or I had a Garlic Vinaigrette! Adam then grills it for me and we cut it into strips. We do eat them with the chicken hot. You can see I have crumbled feta, red onion, cucumber, grape tomatoes halved, pitas and then the sauce. The sauce is plain yogurt with diced red onion, cucumber, lime juice, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. I personally open the pita and add the sauce first, followed by the chicken and then top with everything else so it looks like below. We use whole wheat pitas but you can also use white if you choose.

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Even my kids love these. Many times Hannah and Maya have seconds and Kayla eats a whole one by herself. I hope you enjoy this wonderful spring/summer meal. If you have some go to meals your family loves let me know about them. I love to try new stuff.

Jessica