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!

 

Clean Eating Orange Chicken

I love Chinese food, especially orange chicken.  When I saw this paleo orange chicken recipe, I made it just a few days later!  This is a pretty involved recipe, so it’s definitely not a quick weeknight meal, but I made this one afternoon when I was home alone and then ate on the leftovers for a few days.  This would be a good meal to make on the weekend and then save it for a quick Monday night dinner.

I did switch out some ingredients based on what I had on hand, so the way I made it isn’t Whole30 approved or necessarily paleo.  I switched the tapioca starch for cornstarch and used coconut oil instead of avocado oil because that is what I had on hand.  I served this with brown rice (the instant kind you cook in the microwave for a minute) over a bowl of fresh kale.  This would be great with broccoli tossed in, served with cauliflower rice, or with fresh spinach.  It was a great mixture of sweet and spicy!

Clean Eating Orange Chicken (slightly adapted from Food Faith Fitness)

Serves 4-6

For the sauce:

3/4 cup 100% orange juice (I used fresh Cara Cara oranges to squeeze my own)

Zest of half an orange

1 tbsp coconut aminos

1 tsp rice vinegar

Pinch red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp cornstarch

2 tsp hot sauce

 

For the chicken:

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp cornstarch

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb chicken, cut into cubes (I used boneless skinless thighs, but you can use chicken breast or tenderloins)

 

In a small bowl, whisk together orange juice, zest, coconut aminos, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium skillet, melt the coconut oil (for the sauce) on medium heat.  Sautee the garlic and ginger, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the orange juice mixture and cook on high, stirring constantly.  Meanwhile, put 1 tsp cornstarch in the now-empty medium bowl and set aside.

Once the orange juice mixture is boiling, add 2 tsp hot sauce to the cornstarch and stir together until smooth. Whisk into the boiling sauce and continue to whisk for 2 minutes.  Lower heat to medium and cook until sauce is thick and glossy, stirring constantly.  Pour into a bowl and set aside to thicken while you cook the chicken.

Melt the coconut oil (for the chicken) in the skillet (or in a larger one if you prefer).  Put cornstarch and salt/pepper in a large ziplock bag and shake to mix.  Put chicken cubes in bag and shake to completely cover  chicken with cornstarch mixture.

Put covered chicken in skillet (don’t overcrowd them–you may need to cook the chicken in multiple batches).  Cook chicken until browned on the outside and fully cooked (an instant-read thermometer should read at least 165 F), 2-3 minutes per side, turning once.

Once chicken is cooked, put in a large bowl and pour the thickened orange sauce over it.  Gently stir/toss the chicken with the sauce to completely cover each chicken piece with the sauce.

Serve with rice, broccoli, cauliflower, or greens.  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.

 

 

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!

Reverse Meal Planning

I love to cook.  I love looking up new recipes to try, experimenting with different ingredients, and trying to think like a chef as I throw things together.  But sometimes that causes us to spend more money than we wanted–at the grocery to get the needed ingredients, or eating out because my experiments didn’t go well.  Oops.

This month my husband and I are challenging ourselves to spend less money on food, both eating out and at the grocery.  So, I decided to try something new this week based on a tip I saw on a Facebook moms group I’m in.  Instead of making a meal plan and then going to the grocery, I went to the grocery first.

No list. No meal plan.  It felt SO backwards to me–how will I know how much food I need?  What if I don’t buy enough?  What if I buy a bunch of random things and then won’t know how to put it all together?  It was so foreign to me to go shopping without a list, but it ended up being really fun.

First of all, I needed to have a little more faith in myself–in my knowledge of the staples we use up every week and of my ability to throw foods together to make something yummy.  I’ve been cooking and following food blogs for years now, and I’ve got a good arsenal of information in my brain to help me.

So, I got the pantry staples and produce staples that we use up every week, and then I shopped for produce and meats that were on sale.  I had already looked through my grocery’s app to look at the weekly ad and their digital coupon options and downloaded the ones I thought I might use–which means I skipped the ones for highly processed, unhealthy foods.  I’m trying to save money, but also still eat healthy.  We’re not suddenly eating unhealthy foods because there are more coupons for those kinds of foods.

I ended up with the list you see below.  I was AMAZED at how much less I spent.  We got good, healthy foods (although you can see some of the unhealthy treats my husband picked up) and spent about $30 less than normal.  I saved almost $25 between sales and coupons!  I was shocked at how much I saved this way.

 

So with these ingredients, these are the meals we made this week:

Gluten-free spaghetti with ground turkey (with sauce from my freezer)

Clean-eating sloppy joes

Smoked whole chicken with green beans and roasted red potatoes (this made a ton of food that we ate off of for several meals!)

Clean eating taco bowl with ground beef

 

It was actually a lot easier to come up with these meals than I thought it would be, and we had enough food to last us almost every meal all week.  We did eat out a couple of times, but that was in our budget, too.

I’m excited about trying this reverse meal planning more to see how much I can get and how much I can save!  Do you always shop with a list, or have you tried this way of shopping before?

Cafe Latte and Chocolate Shakeology Treats

I LOVE my daily superfood shake.  I literally never miss a single day of drinking it, so I never have leftover Shakeology sitting around my house.  It just never happens!  Every so often, though, I have some clients that ask me for ideas on how to use their extra Shakeology that aren’t just more shakes.  Luckily for them, there are a ton of awesome treat recipes out there when you need to get to the bottom of your bag a little faster.

My favorite flavors are Cafe Latte and Chocolate (vegan or regular), so these treats are for those two flavors, specifically.  You are still getting your superfood nutrition with these treats, just mixing it up from a regular shake!

All of these recipes are from The Beachbody Blog–they have so many fantastic articles and are a great resource for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle!

Chocolate Shakeology Pudding

2 scoops Chocolate (or Chocolate Vegan) Shakeology

1 ripe medium avocado

2 large bananas, cut into chunks

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

  1. Place Shakeology, avocado, bananas, and almond milk in blender; cover. Blend until smooth. (If too thick add additional almond milk.)
  2. Pour into four dessert cups; refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until set.

 

Double Chocolate No-Bake Vegan Brownies

½ cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)

½ cup all-natural smooth peanut butter

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 scoops Vegan Chocolate Shakeology

Instructions
  1. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with plastic wrap (or aluminum foil). Set aside.
  2. Combine banana, peanut butter, cocoa powder, and Shakeology in a medium bowl; mix well with clean hands or a rubber spatula.
  3. Press chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and press down to flatten into pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour so that brownies set.
  4. Cut into sixteen brownies.

 

No-Churn Chocolate Peanut Butter Shakeology Ice Cream

1 medium banana, cut into chunks

½ cup unsweetened almond milk

2 scoops Chocolate Shakeology

2 Tbsp. all-natural smooth peanut butter

Instructions
  1. Place banana in plastic bag; freeze for 4 hours, or until completely frozen.
  2. Place almond milk, bananas, Shakeology, and peanut butter in blender (or food processor); cover. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

Homemade Energy Bars

1 cup whole pitted dates (or prunes)

1 cup dried fruit (like apricots, prunes, figs, raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries)

1 cup chopped nuts (or seeds) (like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, or sunflower seeds)

2 scoops Shakeology, any flavor

Instructions
  1. Place dates, fruit, and nuts in a food processor. Pulse for 1 to 2 minutes; scrape sides of bowl.
  2. Add Shakeology; process for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture becomes tiny crumbs that can come together to form a loose ball.
  3. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with cellophane. Press mixture into pan until flat. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Cut into 12 bars. Store in refrigerator.
  5. Tip: For additional flair add one or more of the following: ½ tsp. rum extract, ½ tsp. cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. raw honey, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, 1–2 oz dark chocolate chips, or 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger.

 

Tiramisu No-Bake Cookies

1 cup oat flour, gluten-free
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, divided use
¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
1 scoop Café Latte Shakeology
¼ cup all-natural smooth almond butter
2 Tbsp. raw honey (or pure maple syrup)
3 to 4 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk (or low-fat milk)

Preparation:
1. Combine oat flour, 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, salt, and Shakeology; mix well.
2. Add almond butter and honey; mix well. (Mixture will be dry and crumbly.)
3. Add almond milk 1 Tbsp. at a time until a thick dough forms; mix well with clean hands or a rubber spatula.
4. Roll mixture into twelve balls, each about 1-inch in size. Roll balls into remaining 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder.
5. Flatten each slightly so that it is shaped like a traditional cookie.
6. Refrigerate for a firmer cookie, or eat immediately for a softer cookie.

Super Simple Baked Potato Fries

One of the parts of Whole30 I was looking forward to the least was the fact that the only carb I was going to be able to eat were potatoes.  Sweet potatoes, white potatoes.  That’s it.  I was a full-blown carb addict, so this wasn’t something I looked forward to.  But honestly, I loved it.  I had yummy potatoes every single day, and I never missed the other carbs!  Seriously.  I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t live it myself.

Potatoes are actually a great carb option because they don’t mess with your blood sugar in the same way breads and other carbs do, and it’s PACKED with some awesome nutrients.  It’s a carb that actually does your body good, and I’m planning on continuing to use potatoes (especially sweet potatoes) as my main carb of choice.

This recipe is how I fixed my potatoes most of the time, and how I continue to fix them!  This was great with sweet potatoes and white potatoes alike.  Plus, you can switch out the dressing for regular olive oil, melted coconut oil, or melted ghee and it’s just as delicious!

Super Simple Baked Potato Fries

1 medium potato, peeled and sliced into fries

1 tbsp Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic Dressing (or oil of choice)

1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Toss all ingredients together until all fries are completely coated.  Spread fries in one layer (preferably not touching each other) on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper).  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until browned and crispy (or your desired doneness).  Enjoy!

***I don’t personally love leftover potatoes, but you can make a huge batch and keep them in the fridge for a few days if you want.