Elysium Health Wellness Infographic

Remember the wellness tips I posted about a few weeks ago?  Well, I’ve got a fun little secret to share!

Elsyium Health contacted me and asked me to contribute to an infographic on overall health and wellness, which I was stoked to do.  I’m all about helping people find ways to feel better and increase their overall wellness!  Several different bloggers contributed some wellness tips that were compiled into the infographic below.

Elysium Wellness Infographic

When I agreed to contribute, I was under the impression that this company was more devoted on information and research, not promoting a product.  Admittedly I didn’t do much research before I agreed to help, so lesson learned there. I was not compensated for this partnership and have no knowledge of their products–ya’ll know I love what I use in my own daily routine!

It’s always great to be asked to contribute to something, and I’m excited that my little blog is being read my more than just my family, ha!  So thanks to all of you that are quiet observers enjoying my posts.  Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on future posts!

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Making Breakfast Simple + Healthy

Am I the only one who struggles with breakfast?  It’s either too complicated, not tasty, not healthy, or not filling, right?  It’s taken me a long time to find a breakfast routine that works for me longer than 1 week and doesn’t feel too monotonous.  I still love having my Shakeology in the morning, but doing longer and tougher workouts means that I’m a little hungrier in the mornings than normal, and I need some more protein in my life.

For the past several weeks I’ve been rotating between two different breakfasts, and it has been working SO well for me!  Even though it’s the same two meals, they are recipes that you can easily swap out ingredients to make it taste completely different for some more variety.  Plus, both recipes allow for some really nutrient-dense foods to help me start my day off with good nutrition, which sets me up for success for the rest of the day.

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Try these in different variations–switch out the fruits and veggies to find what you like the best!  Comment with your favorite recipe

Veggies and Scrambled Eggs

2 eggs, scrambled

2 green containers veggies–spinach, chopped onion, chopped red pepper, mushrooms, etc

**I like to sautee the chopped veggies first, then cook the eggs, and serve the cooked eggs/veggies on fresh baby spinach.  It’s so easy!

 

Greek Yogurt Breakfast Parfait

1 red container 2% plain Greek yogurt

1 purple container fresh fruit–strawberries, blueberries, peaches, etc.

2 tbsp sliced almonds

Layer ingredients in a bowl–yogurt first, then the fruit, and then the almonds.  Mix if desired and eat cold.

My Go-To *Healthy* Sweet Snack

I have been obsessed with this recipe since my friend Laci brought these treats with us on our trip to New Orleans this summer–chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut are three of my favorite treat ingredients, so a treat that fits my meal plan, packs some awesome nutrition, and has very few ingredients?  #winning

This recipe comes from the great Danielle Natoni who I had the pleasure of meeting during our New Orleans trip–she is amazing!  So thank you, Danielle, for this awesome recipe.  This has quickly become a staple for me to help me with my sweet cravings, and is so easy to throw in my bag and carry around with me if I find myself hungry and no healthy options to turn to.

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You can use any flavor Shakeology with this recipe, but I highly recommend chocolate because, well, chocolate.  And peanut butter.  Go big or go home, right?  These are so easy to make and they keep really well in the fridge.  Good luck not eating all of them at once, because I could literally do that.


Vegan Chocolate Shakeology Balls (from Danielle Natoni)

1 scoop Vegan Chocolate Shakeology

1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 cup raw, local honey

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a rubber spatula until well mixed.  Put in fridge for 5 min before forming into balls.  Roll into balls about the size of the circle your thumb and forefinger make if they are touching.  Keep in a plastic baggie in the fridge for about 1 week.  **This recipe will make about 7 balls, enough for one for each day of the week as a sweet snack.

My Everyday Wellness Tips

Life is busy.  Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a full-time working parent, or somewhere in-between, life can get crazy, and it’s really easy to let yourself slide down your list of priorities.  A lot of women that I talk to, especially moms, struggle with making time for self-care when life gets busy.  Even though it’s our go-to to care for others before we care for ourselves, I can’t be the best mom, the best wife, the best person in general if I’m not taking care of my health!

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In order to make that happen, I have simple and effective habits that I can do every day to set myself up for success mentally and physically.  Not all of these happen every day, but when I’m consistent (not perfect!), I feel such a huge difference in my attitude, my energy, and my progress toward my health goals.

  • Meditation–I used to be a skeptic with meditation, but once I gave it a try, it has helped immensely with my anxiety disorder.  I start my day with 10 minutes of guided meditation through the Headspace app; this lowers my stress first thing and helps me be ready for a positive day.

 

  • Water–I drink water like I’ve been wandering in the desert for 40 years.  It’s almost embarrassing when I go out to eat how many times my water glass gets refilled!  Staying hydrated is vital to your overall wellness since EVERY single system in your body needs water to function properly!  I start every day with a big glass of water to kickstart my system (before coffee!), and I drink about 100 oz throughout the day.  (To figure out the minimum amount of water you need each day, take your weight and divide it in half–that is the number of oz you should drink each day minimum!)

 

  • Exercise–this should be a no-brainer for wellness, ya’ll.  Being active is good for your heart, for your mind, and for your body.  For me, the best way to make sure I’m consistent with this is to choose a program to follow, and to make sure that my fitness is accessible; I use a streaming workout system that I can do at home, and I do it in the early morning to make sure I get it done before anything can interrupt my day.

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  • Shakeology–I drink my super shake every single day for optimum nutrition, and my recipe tastes awesome, gives me energy, and sneaks some greens in, too.  Chocolate shake, 1/2 cup almond milk, a handful of ice, 2 tsp almond butter, a banana, 1 cup spinach, 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes, and 1 tbsp local raw honey.  I get superfoods, healthy fats, and greens all in one meal, and I feel amazing!

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And that’s it!  It’s not groundbreaking, but it makes a huge difference in my health and in my life.  Making these habits a part of your wellness routine will help you, too!

Can’t-Tell-The-Difference Gluten Free Banana Bread

Summer is coming to a close, fall is speedily approaching, and I am READY.  Cooler temperatures, comfy clothes, and all of my favorite yearly traditions, including some good homemade baked goods.

One of my favorite things to bake in the fall is banana bread.  It’s easy to make, it smells awesome, and it tastes amazing.  I had some very ripe bananas that I needed to use up, but I wanted to find a good gluten free banana bread–I have a lot of all-purpose GF flour and I feel better when I don’t eat wheat, so after about 3 minutes of research, I settled on this recipe.  It’s pretty similar to the recipe I normally use, it didn’t have any weird ingredients, and it includes chocolate chips!

I made this with my 3 year old who really enjoyed pouring and stirring the ingredients together, especially the chocolate chips.  He and I ate some of this almost straight out of the oven and we both loved it!  It tastes the same to me as my regular banana bread, and Little Man seemed to agree.  My husband had some the next morning and loved it, too!  I didn’t tell him it was GF, and he didn’t notice any difference at all.  Since he is notoriously picky, this is a huge win for me!  Since I prefer to eat GF, I’ll be using this recipe as my go-to banana bread!

Full disclosure–I am by no means claiming that this is “healthy” banana bread.  It’s just GF, but it still has sugar and chocolate–please don’t eat this thinking that you can eat the whole loaf with no consequences to your waistline.  You’re totally going to want to eat the whole loaf, by the way.  It’s that good.

Can’t-Tell-The-Difference GF Banana Bread (from Primavera Kitchen)

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cup all purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli Dark)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a large loaf pan to prevent sticking and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together banana, yogurt, egg, vanilla, oil, and brown sugar until completely blended and smooth.  In a separate medium bowl, mix the baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and flour until completely blended.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until completely incorporated.  Using a spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips until mixed through.  Put the batter in the greased loaf pan and bake for 50-60 min, until a knife/toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the bread is completely baked through.

Enjoy!

 

Busy Mom Chicken-Stuffed Peppers

I love my Fixate cookbook–I have a handful of recipes from it that I make all the time (Grandma’s Tomato Sauce and the Clean Eating Sloppy Joes are a couple of examples), and now there is a Fixate cooking show on Beachbody On-Demand that I watch every week to get new recipe ideas!  I was watching it last week and got reminded of this stuffed pepper recipe that is so good, but also a little involved and complicated.

On the show, Bobby Calabrese (the chef) mentioned that instead of buying chicken breasts and cutting them up into bite-sized pieces to cook, you could just get ground chicken to save some time and energy.  GENIUS!  I’m not sure I would ever have come up with that on my own, but it’s such a simple tip!

The original recipe calls for quinoa and corn, but I opted to leave those out because 1) I don’t really like corn, 2) I didn’t want that many carbs in this meal, and 3) I was being lazy and didn’t want to add quinoa.  If you love corn and don’t care too much about the extra carbs, feel free to add 1 cup cooked corn and 2 cups cooked quinoa to the filling when you add the black beans.

If you want to make this recipe even easier and quicker, you can skip the whole baking step and slice your peppers into large strips and use them as a chip alternative.  You could also skip the peppers altogether and just eat the filling alone, or in taco shells or with tortilla chips.  Check your grocery for pre-chopped onion and minced garlic in the jar.  That saves a few steps, as well!  Last, instead of chopping the cilantro I usually just tear it by hand as I add it to the dish and that is a lot faster, as well.

Enjoy!

Busy Mom’s Chicken-Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Fixate)–serves 4

4 bell peppers (any color), cut in half and seeds/ribs removed

2 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb ground chicken (can up this to 2 lbs to bulk up the filling if you prefer)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

Salt, to taste (at least 1/4 tsp)

1 cup tomato sauce (I used plain canned tomato sauce, no salt or sugar added)

5 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp lime juice

Optional: 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese

Optional: Hot sauce, to taste, for serving

Preheat oven to 375F. Place peppers skin side down on a baking dish (spray with cooking spray).  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.  Add onion and cook for 5-8 minutes, until soft and translucent, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add ground chicken, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked all the way through and no longer pink.

Add tomato sauce, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice and reduce heat to medium low.  Stir together until all ingredients are fully mixed and heated through.  Remove from heat and turn heat off.

Scoop a heaping 1/2 cup of filling into each pepper half.  Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes, until peppers are soft.  If desired, top each pepper with cheese and bake for 3-5 more minutes uncovered until cheese is melted.

Let cool about 5 minutes before serving. Top with hot sauce if desired.  Each serving is 2 pepper halves!

 

My Mindfulness Checklist

In an effort to manage my depression and anxiety, I’ve developed a morning routine that is focused solely on helping me clear my head and start my day with positive momentum.  Getting up early isn’t really my favorite thing to do, but the benefits I get from waking up earlier than the rest of the house, having some time to myself, and working through these steps makes it completely worth it!

Before I started implementing these steps, I was very skeptical about it.  I didn’t think that meditation or affirmations would make any difference, and honestly I felt really foolish doing it.  It took me a long time to even give it a try, but when I kept reading over and over about these successful people I look up to, time and time again they talked about doing affirmations and meditation (or least some version of it).  If all of these people that I respect were doing it, why not give it a try?  Once I did this for about a week, I noticed a big difference and I became a believer in the process.

Here is how I work through my checklist; hopefully this gives you some ideas on how you can incorporate these steps into your day.

  1. A peaceful space: Find a spot in your house that will allow you to spend a few minutes alone, a space where you can keep your materials for your morning routine, and a space that makes you feel calm and peaceful. For me, I use a spot in my basement; it’s away from the rest of the house, it is comfortable and relaxing, and there’s a table next to my couch where I keep my Bible and journal so it’s easy to access.  It really doesn’t matter where you decide to make your morning mindfulness space, as long as you feel relaxed and can be uninterrupted for at least a few minutes–your kitchen table, your living room couch, your bedroom, your porch or deck, etc.
  2. 10 minutes of quiet solitude: This has been huge for me!  I wake up with a lot of tension–lots of thoughts swirling through my head, physical tension in my back, and stress thinking about my to-do list for the day ahead.  Taking 10 minutes of quiet solitude to start my day has allowed me to get rid of that stress and start my day with a lot more peace.  I use the Headspace app for their free 10-min guided meditation sessions–it doesn’t have corny background music, it doesn’t ask you to focus on anything except your breathing, and it doesn’t feel too hippy-granola to me.  If meditation isn’t your thing and you want to spend the time praying alone, awesome.  If you want to spend 5 minutes focusing on your breathing, fantastic.  If you want to just sit at your kitchen table and sip your coffee for 10 minutes, great!  The key here is to try and CLEAR your mind, not just sit quietly for 10 minutes stressing about your day or what happened yesterday.  It might be helpful to try a guided meditation once or twice to give you the tools, and then you could do it on your own.  I also have a list of positive affirmations about myself that I say out loud–things that help me change the negative dialogue in my own head.  One of my affirmations is “I am disciplined” to help me focus on who I want to be, instead of spending my day talking down to myself.  The affirmations help me change my perception of myself–when you talk negatively to yourself, you are a negative person.  When you talk positively, you become more positive.  It’s pretty simple, but it makes a huge impact.
  3. Intentional focus on spiritual development: I love doing this section right after my meditation because I’ve cleared my head, gotten rid of some tension, and I feel much more equipped to focus on my reading and prayer instead of feeling distracted by my thoughts.  My spiritual development is really all about focusing on my personal relationship with God and growing in that; I read my Bible (following a specific plan), do some journaling about what I read, and spend some time praying.  If you aren’t sure where to start with this, I love the She Reads Truth app–it’s free, includes a Bible in the app, and has a lot of great studies to choose from (free up to $3).  There is also a He Reads Truth app for the guys, too.  Focusing on this helps me keep my priorities in check, helps me have a good mindset for my day, and helps me focus on what is really important in my day instead of focusing on insignificant stressors.
  4. Physical activity: This one might be my favorite.  I like to do a full workout in the morning with Beachbody On Demand–I usually forget that I even worked out by lunchtime and then it feels like a rest day!  But even just a short and sweet workout, like some pushups and crunches, or jumping jacks and planks, even for just 5 minutes, is shown to benefit your mindset in the morning.  All exercise releases endorphins and helps you get your day started with positivity.  When I start my day with a workout, it helps me stay motivated to make healthy choices throughout my day, too.  Whether you choose to do a full workout, a few jumping jacks, or a 5 minute yoga flow, doing some kind of physical activity will help you lower your stress levels and get in a good mood for your day.
  5. Personal Development: One of my favorite things about my coaching business is the focus on personal development.  Being intentional about reading positive books that help me become a better person, better wife, better mom, better coach has truly made all the difference in my life.  Personal development is what helped give me the confidence to leave teaching and be a stay-at-home mom, and helped me be able to identify my depression and anxiety enough to know I needed to get help.  In choosing a personal development book, I think about one of my goals and what I feel like is holding me back from accomplishing that goal.  For example, as I’ve been trying to lose weight, I’ve realized that I struggle with emotional eating, and I looked up some books dealing with that topic before choosing Made to Crave, which has been an amazing resource for me.  Some of my business goals weren’t becoming reality and I realized I needed some help being disciplined, so I read a book called Take the Stairs that was a huge help.  You can also choose a podcast to listen to–I love the God Centered Mom podcast for personal development, too.  We all have aspects of our lives that we want to improve–I use personal development as a tool to become the person I want to be.  Starting my day with this helps me stay focused on making better choices throughout the day instead of going on autopilot with bad habits.

I’ve included a printable version of this checklist for you to use as you create your own routine for mindfulness.  There is a lot of evidence for everything included here and the benefits of putting them into practice, but the only evidence you really need is trying it out for yourself.  Give it one week and see what kind of a difference it makes, and then come back and let me know how it went!

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Mindfulness Checklist