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!

 

Healthy in Every Way–My Journey Through Depression and Anxiety

I have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. (I tried to think of a nice introduction to transition into this declaration, but I couldn’t think of how to get there so I decided to just go for it.)  I’ve been fairly open about my struggle with depression on this blog before, and this past year has been a pretty dark place for me.  I’ve been pretty quiet about what’s been going on with me lately, but I want to share more about this aspect of my life because I’ve been realize just how much my mental health is connected to my physical health.  

 

I’ve struggled with depression for several years, but this past year has been the hardest yet.  The transition from working mom to stay-at-home mom is never an easy one, my husband has a new position in his work with some new responsibilities, and there have been lots of other transitions in other areas of my life, too.  I think that for a long time it was really easy for me to blame teaching for my depression, but once I left and the depression stayed, I was forced to really examine what was going on.

 

So, for the first time in my entire life, I started going to a therapist and taking an antidepressant.  This was honestly a really hard decision for me to make because even though I’ve recommended therapy to a lot of people close to me, I was embarrassed to admit that I needed that kind of help.  I’ve always had some kind of twisted pride in the fact that I was “managing” my depression without the help of therapy or medicine.  But honestly, I wasn’t managing anything.  I was barely holding on by a thread and constantly felt like everything was falling apart.  Every single part of my day was a struggle, from waking up to getting out of bed to taking care of my child.  I was miserable, so my pride in taking care of myself was pretty misguided.

 

Before I started therapy and learning different ways of coping with my depression and anxiety, I had pretty much one coping mechanism–food.  I’ve always known that I was an emotional eater, but I didn’t quite realize how deep my relationship with food really went.  I started to figure it out after I read “Made to Crave” and did Whole30, but once I finished Whole30 I basically fell into a giant pile of sugar.  I had certainly learned better food habits, but I hadn’t worked on the deeper issue: I was using food as a coping mechanism instead of actually dealing with my depression and anxiety.

 

As a result from this emotional eating+not working on my mental health combination, I gained some weight and started to feel bad about myself.  I lost energy, I lost motivation, I lost confidence.  I was embarrassed that I was losing control of my health–again–and I felt like a total failure.  Of course, that just made my depression even worse.  And then I continued to eat poorly to cope with all the negative feelings…which made me feel worse.  See the cycle there?  It took me months to figure out that connection.  Actually, it took me months to figure out that I was deeply depressed.  It was a rough year.

 

But, that is in my rearview mirror.  Once I figured out what was really happening, decided to get to a professional, and became open to medicine, things started to change.  Now, I have a mindfulness routine to start out my days.  I’m focused on my personal development to help keep my mindset positive.  I’m focused on being consistent with my fitness because a good workout does WONDERS for my depression and anxiety.  I’m learning different ways to cope with my issues instead of running to the drive thru for a sweet tea and cookie every day.  (True story).

 

I’m going to be posting a little more about some of the specifics of my routine and different coping strategies, but I set an alarm to get up early so I can have some quiet time to do a 10 minute meditation, read my Bible and have some prayer time, read personal development, write out affirmations, and say some affirmations out loud.  I feel like a total hippie when I’m doing it, but it’s seriously amazing to feel the difference in my mindset every single day.  Those are my new coping mechanisms instead of food, and even though it’s still a struggle and I’m still working on it, I finally feel like I’m out of the pit and I’m able to get back to myself again.

 

So, why am I sharing all of this?  Part of it is to help myself get out of feeling embarrassed that I have struggles.  I deal with depression and anxiety–that’s part of my story and I don’t want to be secretive about it anymore.  It’s not anything to be ashamed of; it’s just part of who I am.  But more importantly, I want YOU to know that you’re not alone.  It has been amazing to me to hear some of my friends and family say “me too!”.  Whether it’s a struggle with depression or anxiety, or going through junk that distracts you from your health, or just dealing with gaining some weight after working so hard to lose it, you are not alone.  And you need to focus on your mental health!  It’s not just about your physical health–you have to take care of your mind and your spirit to be truly healthy.  

 

Since this is now a part of my health journey, it’s going to be a part of the blog more and more.  Stay tuned for more posts about this aspect of my story, and feel free to share any wisdom from your own journey, too!

Gluten-Free Orange Cherry Muffins

One of my FAVORITE things about my online streaming workouts is the Fixate cooking show.  The 21 Day Fix creator Autumn Calabrese and her brother Bobby (who is a chef) share healthy, clean eating recipes that are so good!  I love looking every week at what new recipes they’ve come up with–they are always adventurous and something that I wouldn’t think of on my own, which makes it fun for me.  I’m actually working on a “Fixate Week” where I only eat Fixate recipes because I love it so much!

Last week I tried the Fixate Vegan Orange Cherry Muffins–I had some Cara Cara oranges I needed to use, and my son LOVES cherries, so I thought this would be a perfect experiment!  I ended up adjusting the recipe a little bit because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand, and I didn’t want to buy special ingredients I don’t normally use just to keep the muffins vegan (especially when I don’t really care that much about eating vegan).

Instead of using fresh cherries, I bought dried cherries (which are a little more tart than fresh, so if you go that route you might want to add a little more syrup for more sweetness).  I also swapped the flaxseed for a whole egg because I didn’t have flaxseed on hand and don’t normally use it (flaxseed is used as a binding ingredient to substitute eggs and is a great source of omega-3s).

These were really good! Next time I’ll use 100% orange juice because the fresh juice I had wasn’t quite enough.  I would love to try these with fresh cherries, so I’m keeping an eye out for cherries at my grocery as we get closer to summer!

For my Fix followers, each serving (1 muffin) is 1 yellow, 1/2 purple, 1/2 blue, and 1 1/2 tsp.

Fixate Orange Cherry Muffins (adapted from Fixate on Beachbody On Demand)

Makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups gluten free all purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tbsp orange zest

3/4 cup orange juice

1 egg

1 large banana, thickly cut (about 1 cup of banana)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped cherries (fresh, frozen, or dried)

 

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with baking spray.

Combine flours, baking powder, salt, and walnuts in a large bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Put oil, peanut butter, maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, egg, banana, and vanilla in a blender.  Mix for 30 seconds.

Add peanut butter mixture to flour mixture.  Mix just until moistened–do not overmix.

Fold in cherries to batter mixture until just mixed.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon batter into lined muffin tin (1/4 cup for each muffin).

Bake muffins for 18 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and toothpick comes out clean from the center of muffin.

Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes in pan.  Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

These kept well in an airtight container on the counter.  They only lasted a few days before we ate them all, but would probably be fine for about 5-7 days. You could also put baked muffins in the freezer and reheat them in the microwave.

Enjoy!

 

 

Gluten-Free Pancakes

I’ve found a great gluten-free waffle recipe, so I wanted to find a great gluten-free pancake recipe, too!  We love eating breakfast together in my house, and it’s so special to have my little man help me make waffles, pancakes, or french toast and then enjoy the fruits of our labor together.

This was the first gluten-free pancake recipe I tried, and it was great!  The original recipe called for buttermilk, which I didn’t have on hand, so I subbed in equal parts plain greek yogurt and milk.  The original recipe calls for blueberries, but you could use any kind of fruit or choose to leave fruit out of the batter and just top the pancakes with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.

I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop out the batter, and it made 4 medium-large pancakes.

Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Pancakes (slightly adapted from Bakepedia)

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt+1/2 cup milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (for the pan)

Combine all ingredients except the oil.  Mix until completely combined, but not completely smooth.

Heat a skillet on medium-low heat.  Melt oil on skillet.  Use a 1/4- or 1/3-cup measuring cup to spoon batter onto skillet.  Cook for 3-4 on one side until bubbly.  Flip and cook 1-2 more minutes until golden brown.  Top with fresh berries and pure maple syrup.

 

 

More Than Fruits and Veggies–What I’ve Learned (And Am Still Learning) About Healthy Living

Until about two years ago, what I knew about being “healthy” was basically just eat less. move more, count calories, eat more fruits and veggies, and go running.  There was a lot of fuzzy facts in my head–if you eat at a deficit (intake less than you’re expending) you’ll lose weight.  Running is great cardio and will help you drop weight.  It was all about counting calories, paying attention to macros, and following a running plan.

Now for a disclaimer–there is nothing inherently wrong with anything in the above paragraph.  I love running.  You do need to pay attention to how much you eat.  You do need to be active.  Some people find a lot of success with counting/tracking calories and macros.  But for me personally, most of this didn’t work.  It was too vague, too fuzzy and broad.  I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted with this kind of plan and mindset.

I’ve learned that it’s not just about being active.  It’s about being active with a plan, and a plan made by someone who knows what they’re doing so I work different muscle groups in a strategic way to get the best results possible.  It’s about pushing myself–which for me means I need to have someone else telling me how long to go and when to stop.  If it’s up to me, I’ll quit after 10 seconds!

It’s not just about the calories for me–it’s way more about where those calories come from.  I can eat 1200 calories a day and not see results because they are calories from sugar, carbs, and unhealthy fats in processed foods.  Eating more calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods gives me better results.  In the past I would “make room” in my calories one day because I wanted ice cream or a candy bar, and then be frustrated that I wasn’t seeing results because I was following the “rules”.  Now I know how those different foods affect my body and my results, and I can plan to indulge without unrealistic expectations for my progress.

I’ve also learned that different things work for different people.  Some people thrive off of a small indulgence every day (like a small piece of dark chocolate); some people do really well with one off-plan meal a week; some people do best with strict plan that doesn’t allow for many off-plan indulgences.  I am one of those people who needs a lot of structure, so a stricter plan works well for me.  If I allow too many off-plan meals or foods, it tends to open the floodgates, so to speak and it’s hard for me to get back on track.

I’ve learned that I need accountability, so I have learned to be honest and vulnerable on my social media as accountability, and to open up to the ladies in my accountability groups and use those groups the way they are designed–to help me through my celebrations and struggles.

I’ve learned that working out at home with a streaming workout system is best for me; being able to walk downstairs to my basement, have over 7,000 workouts to choose from (different equipment requirements, different world-class trainers, different time commitments), and be able to get my workouts done with little fuss is the best equation for me to be consistent and successful.

I’ve learned that having a nutrient-dense shake that I can make in 5 minutes for a fast and portable breakfast is the best way for me to start my day.  It sets me up for success and helps my mornings go more smoothly.  I used to go through a drive-thru or get donuts at a gas station in the mornings, which started my days off poorly and didn’t give me the momentum I needed to make good choices.  Now, I have a healthy choice in just a few minutes that propels my day toward healthy choices instead of making me feel lethargic and bloated.

I’ve learned that I have a very deep, very strong emotional connection to food.  That makes it tougher for me to be consistent at times (and is also why I do better with stricter plans).  This is something that I deal with every day, and am still learning how to deal with to keep my body fueled properly and have a healthy mental/emotional relationship with food.  I can’t recommend the book Made to Crave enough to help with this issue!

The biggest lesson I’ve learned with being healthy is that healthy living is a journey, not a destination.  It’s not a place you arrive to one day and then you suddenly don’t have to worry about making good choices anymore.  It’s not a set test you either pass or fail.  It’s not a checklist that you can easily click off each day.  It’s individual for all of us, and it requires patience, grace toward yourself, experimenting with what works for you, and a willingness to be flexible as you learn about yourself.

Sometimes you need help with this process and guidance to learn some of these things about yourself.  I am so thankful for the fit family I have found in my accountability groups, and I know that you’d find the same support!  If you need some extra help with this part of your life, let’s chat.  I’d love to take you under my wing!  wweaver0@gmail.com.

Meeting A Coach Hero (Louisville Super Sunday Recap)

I love going to live events for my coaching business.  Whether it’s the annual Coach Summit in the summer or the quarterly local events, I love getting together with fellow coaches to learn more about this business and be inspired to do more with my team!

Yesterday was one of those quarterly local events, and I was SO excited.  We had a special guest speaker coming that has a lot of personal significance for me.  Erin Young is a top coach that isn’t on my team at all, but as a fellow mom and high school English teacher, I relate a lot to her story.

Right after I finished crying. Lol.


When I was a brand new coach trying to decide what I really wanted out of my coaching hobby, I was also a working mom struggling with wanting to stay home with my son.  I had dropped him off at daycare and had seen a sign promoting their upcoming “Muffins with Mom” event, but I couldn’t go.  It was happening on the last day of school for me, and I would already be well into teaching by the time the event started.  I couldn’t take time off for it–it just wasn’t even an option for me.  I was so upset by that–I just wanted to eat a muffin with my kid.  He was asleep when I left for work every day, I didn’t get to drop him off most of the time because I’d have to take him in so early, and I didn’t get to see him until almost dinner every day.  I just wanted to be home with him, but was struggling with feeling like I was stuck in teaching.  That’s what I went to school for, that’s what we cash flowed my Master’s degree for–I couldn’t give up on that, could I?

My Dream Achiever Laci!


Right around this time, I saw a short video of this random coach, Erin Young.  She was talking about how she loved her teaching job, but wanted to be able to put her kids on the school bus and make them breakfast–with her teaching schedule, that wouldn’t be possible.  She talked about struggling with realizing that she wanted to do something different than teach and about how she had to give herself permission to dream a new dream with her coaching business.  This resonated so much with me and helped me in my decision with what I wanted to do–and ultimately I decided to make this business happen for me and stay home with my son!

Getting to hear her speak in person, learning some business strategies from her directly, and working out with her was so much fun!  I got a chance to talk with her for just a minute and ask for a picture, which was embarrassing because I totally lost it.  I was trying to explain how much her story impacted me and thank her for sharing her story and making a difference in my life, and I just cried.  So embarrassing!  But I also kind of don’t really care because this business means SO much to me and my family, and I love being able to share with the people who have impacted my life how much of a difference they are making.  She was really sweet about it and so inspiring for me.

Erin young during her presentation


My biggest takeaway from the event was that I am capable of accomplishing ANYTHING I want to accomplish in this business.  The only thing standing in my way is me and my own excuses!  It’s just like with my fitness journey–at first I thought that it was impossible to lose weight and reach my goal, but once I stopped making excuses and followed a solid plan, I not only got to my goal size, but actually got down one size smaller!  And this isn’t just true for me and my specific goals–it’s true for EVERYONE with ANY goal!  There is nothing standing in your way except for YOU.

I am so motivated by this event and it made me even more excited for my trip to New Orleans this summer for the annual Coach Summit.  Anything is possible!

Insanity Max:30 Results!

This week, I finished Day 60 of my 60 day program!  I have NEVER finished a program this long before, so I am so excited and proud of myself for finishing this program.  When I decided to do it, I was really nervous about it because I have only ever completed the 21 day programs–the 30 day programs I’ve *almost* finished them, but have never gotten all the way done.  I was afraid that I would be setting myself up for failure with an 8-week program, but I realized that the only thing stopping me from finishing a program is ME!  There is no reason I can’t finish a 60-day program other than my own excuses, so I decided that I would be successful, I committed to the program, and I followed through!


I didn’t do the program perfectly–not every workout was done on the exact day it was supposed to be done, but every workout WAS completed!  I finished all of the workouts in the 60 days without going over on days, which is what I had committed myself to.  I am really proud of that!

As far as nutrition, I’ve talked pretty openly about how that has been a struggle for me.  I was very focused on proper nutrition while I was doing the Whole30, but it was very hit and miss the rest of the time I did Insanity Max:30.  I still got great results that I’m really excited about!


Here are my general thoughts about the program:

  • I love that they are 30  minute workouts.  It makes it so much easier to fit these in my schedule!
  • I love that there are 2 rest days each week!  If I was able to get my workouts in Mon-Fri, it made my weekends more relaxing to not have to worry about fitting workouts in or getting up extra early.  On the weeks where I didn’t get all 5 workouts in during the week, I loved having 2 rest days making the schedule more flexible if I needed to move things around.
  • I love that I was able to stream the workouts online!  Not messing with DVDs, being able to just go down to my basement, and not worrying about travel time or getting ready to leave to go somewhere else to workout made it so much simpler for me to be consistent with this program.  I was able to use my computer or my phone to work out, depending on where I was and what my schedule looked like.
  • I love that there was no equipment!  I just needed my workout clothes and my shoes (and some people work out barefoot!).  So easy!

The workouts are HARD.  I modified most of the moves most of the time, and I still got a great workout every single time.  I was really sore, so I drank some Beachbody Performance Recover to help me not be so sore–it makes a huge difference, doesn’t count as any of my portion containers on the eating plan, and tastes really good!  I was able to push harder in each workout because I wasn’t struggling through feeling sore from the workout before.

I love how I felt doing IM:30!  I see a big difference in my body, but I feel better, too.

  • I am stronger–I was able to do more moves full-out instead of modifying everything.
  • I was getting less winded earlier on in each workout, which helped me be able to push harder and get even fitter each week.
  • I was able to do higher tuck jumps by the end of the 8 weeks
  • I was able to do longer plank holds by the end of the 8 weeks
  • I was able to take less breaks throughout the workouts
  • I was able to do more push-ups each round

And there is a difference in my body, too!  The scale says there are only 2.6 lbs difference in these two photos, which in the past would have devastated me, but today, I really couldn’t care less.  My clothes fit better, my body looks different, and these workouts make me feel like a badass.  The scale can suck it.

I’m still deciding on what I’m going to do next, but I’m pretty sure I’ve decided on doing yoga for the weekend and then going into 21 Day Fix Extreme starting Monday, April 10. I’m also going to be submitting my before and after pictures to the Beachbody Challenge to get a free shirt for Insanity Max:30!  I have made some awesome progress with this program, and I’m excited to keep going!