One thing that Ryan and I agree on about our “healthy living” challenge is that it has prompted us to eat a LOT more fruits and veggies. Since we’ve been doing it, we’ve both had a huge smoothie every morning, packed full of fruits AND veggies (as opposed to the smoothies we’d usually make with a fruit or two and maybe some spinach). This morning, I had one with apple, carrot, spinach, blueberries, pineapple, and raspberries—whoa. That’s a lot of produce. But it was delicious!
Lunch and dinner have had a heavy emphasis on produce as well. Here are some of the meals we’ve enjoyed lately:
A grilled veggie flatbread sandwich, with grapes for lunch
Homemade individual vegetable lasagna, plus salad for a Valentine’s Day dinner. Ryan made the lasagnas, and they were SO good—he used a Giada recipe. Yum!
Flatbread, topped with hummus, sauteed shrimp and veggies, and chopped up treats from Fresh Market’s olive bar (olives, cheese, roasted garlic, etc.)
Asparagus, tempeh, and cabbage stir-fry. Served over brown rice.
And, finally, some king cake:
Definitely the most delicious color-filled part of the week.
Have a great weekend!
I’ve written about the Huntsville Botanical Gardens before—we love it there. I’ve written about them here…and here (baby Lila!)…and here (pregnant Anna!). One of our favorite parts about the Botanical Gardens are the “dog days of winter” that they have during January and February—dogs are usually prohibited at the gardens, but during January and February, they’re welcome!
We’re lucky in that we typically have pretty mild winters here in Huntsville…but after our freak snow storm last week, we were all ready to get out and enjoy some nicer weather this week. Yesterday, we were blessed with temps in the sixties—love it! I’m SO ready for spring…and I think this girl is too:
Ella and Baxter, of course, very much enjoyed the dog days as well:
These pictures that Ryan snapped of me and Lila are two of my favorites—need to get them framed!
My little love bug.
One of Lila’s biggest obsessions (seriously) is flowers, so she was VERY happy to find a few early-blooming “fawa’s” on the ground:
‘Twas a great day at the gardens. Spring is on the way, I think!
The healthiest marriages are the ones that turn everything into a competition, right? I think I read that somewhere.
I mean, Ryan and I don’t turn EVERYTHING into a competition. Still, sometimes there’s nothing like a little healthy competition to kickstart motivation in a big way.
It started with the Fit Bit—first I got one, then Ryan got one, and then, obviously, the competition for who could get the most steps began. I mean, Fit Bit practically begs you to compete with other Fit Bitters, posting the daily steps of everyone you know who has a Fit Bit to see who reaches the most each day. As someone who tends to be a *little bit* on the competitive side—I love it.
So it was only natural that we turned our “who takes the most steps” competition into a very involved “Healthy Challenge” competition. Right? Right? It’s promoting a really healthy atmosphere around the house:
So here’s the deal. We came up with a point system—some of which are activity-based, and some of which are food-based:
Healthiest Week Points System
1 trip to the gym: 25 points
1 gym class: 30 points
2500 steps: 5 points
Running outside: 10 points a mile
Yoga/barre class: 25 points
dog walk: 10 points
fitness dvd: 15 points
home fitness (twenty minute minimum): 15 points
plank: 1 point per minute
at least 8 hours of sleep: 5 points
cutting off screen time by 8pm: 10 points
a day without Facebook: 10 points
stretching/foam rolling (10 minutes at least): 5 points
1 serving fruit: 5 points
1 serving veggies: 8 points
12 ounces water: 2 points
day without sweets (including baked goods and bars): 25 points
day without drinking: 10 points
a meal with at least 5 natural colors: 10 points
a meal with at least 5 fruits and/or veggies: 5 points
We’ve been logging our points at the end of each day in a spreadsheet, in which we can both see each other’s points as well:
Yep, it’s a little complicated. But it’s also been really fun. And, dare I say, it’s been getting us out of our “winter blahs” rut in a MAJOR way. We’ve been eating way more fruits and veggies, and making an effort to get more and more steps in every day. Sometimes you need a little shake-up, right?
We’re going to add up our points at the end of each week, and the winner gets *something*—we haven’t quite decided what yet, but it will probably involve sleeping in on the weekends while the other person gets up with the kiddo.
Do you have any health challenges in mind to get ready for spring and summer? Care to join us?!? I can always add another person on the ol’ spreadsheet…
Well, we’re on snow day number THREE over here!!! What in the world?!
Go out into the snowpacalypse without our Hello Kitty gear? Please.
Ryan and I were both saying this morning that the amount of snow we’ve gotten in the past few days has been perfect—enough to play in for a few days (and take a break from school because of, haha), but then…gone. We’re expecting temps in the 50’s this weekend, and I can’t say I’m not excited. I will be sad to see the snow go, though—we had fun in it today, especially. We headed over to some of the hillier parts of our neighborhood and borrowed a neighbor’s sled for a fun morning of sledding:
Lila loved it. As soon as we’d get down to the bottom of the hill, she’d demand, “Again!”
Last night, we almost headed to our local Mexican restaurant to meet up with friends for dinner…but the snow started coming fast and furious, and we decided to just hunker down at home instead. And you know, I’m kind of glad we did—we made a big pot of chili, which is, hands down, the BEST snowy night dinner. This chili is vegetarian and full of veggies too…so you can really pack on the toppings.
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large can diced tomatoes
6 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can chili beans (not drained)
1 cup water
1 package frozen meatless crumbles (I usually use Morningstar or Boca)
chili seasoning to taste (I use about half of a store-bought packet, but you could obviously make your own according to your own taste and liking)
In a heavy-bottom pot, heat some olive oil. Add onion and green pepper. Season lightly with garlic salt, and cook for about 10 minutes, until starting to soften. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for another 10 minutes. Add beans, water, seasoning, and crumbles. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour, stirring the bottom occasionally to prevent sticking.
Garnishes: limes, greek yogurt, sharp cheddar, avocado, tortilla chips, cilantro…yum!
This was a hit with Lila—she even asked for a full second serving, which hardly ever happens. Check out that empty bowl! Plus, she ate the chili before she even touched the chips, which REALLY never happens!
The sun is out, the snow is melting…I think we’re going to finally venture out to run some errands. Happy Thursday!
We got our snow day, alright!
Yesterday was really perfect. We actually had enough snow to play in, but the weather warmed up considerably, so being outside was comfortable and fun. We took advantage of the white stuff, since we get it so rarely down here.
Lila didn’t want anything to do with it at first:
…but she warmed up pretty quickly.
We started off playing in the backyard, and then strapped Lila into the Ergo and went out for a walk in the neighborhood:
Snow days usually seem to equal lazy days for me, but I actually got in two good walks AND a run yesterday, for a total of over 16,000 steps! Whoa! Maybe it should snow more often!
We actually got another snow day today, as well…but all we’ve had so far is rain. We got our craft on this morning, making some homemade valentines to send out to friends and family:
More on this in another post—I think I hear someone stirring from her nap! Hope you’ve had a great Wednesday!
Hey y’all! This southern girl is very excited, because we have an official SNOW DAY!!! I woke up this morning to this:
…and now I’m drinking my coffee and taking it in, waiting for Ryan and Lila to wake up so that she can play in her first proper snow!
When we lived in Indiana and Pennsylvania, any snow after the first one became a pain in the ass—a hassle, something to be dreaded. “More snow?!?” I’d think, trudging through it, day after day. Now that we’re back in the south, the magic of snow has returned—when it only snows once a year (if that!), snow becomes something to love. Yes, southerners go crazy when it snows. Yes, we clear out the grocery store if it looks like we’re going to get even less than an inch. But snow in the south is something that, in my experience, has the ability to turn everyone into giddy little children. I literally squealed when I woke up and looked out the window this morning.
Yay for snow days.
This next recipe is the perfect snowy-weather meal. It’s also the perfect meal to make if you’ve noticed that lately your pants have been a little tight. Ahem.
Ryan and I are trying to eat healthier…but that doesn’t mean that I want to give up comfort foods during these cold winter days. This dish was a nice compromise:
Healthy Shepherd’s Pie
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 package lean ground turkey (1.25 pounds)
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, minced
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can chicken broth
1 tbsp. worstershire sauce
1 tsp. tamari
1 large russet potato, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
garlic salt to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a large pot of water on to boil. When boiling, add potato and cauliflower and boil for 10-15 minutes, until easy to pierce with a fork.
While the potato and cauliflower are cooking, in a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion, cook for ten minutes. Add turkey and thyme and cook for another 10 minutes, until turkey is almost cooked through. Add frozen vegetables and flour. Stir for a few minutes to incorporate the flour, then add the next four ingredients. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring consistently. Reduce heat to a simmer, then cook for another 10-15 minutes, until sauce has thickened and reduced considerably.
When potato and cauliflower are done cooking, drain and transfer back to pot. At this point, you can mash them by hand for a chunky texture, or mash them in a food processor or blender for a smoother texture. I seasoned mine with garlic salt, and added about a 1/2 cup of milk to allow it to blend.
In a large casserole dish, transfer vegetables and turkey. Top with cauliflower/potato mixture, and dot with butter if desired (we skipped this step, trying to keep it extra-light).
Bake for 15 minutes in oven, until top is beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes.
We skipped this last step because *someone* was VERY hungry and demanding food:
…so you can see that ours was a little runny. But still delicious. The part that was allowed to sit was much more solid:
Again, this was a great winter meal—very comforting. And very kid-friendly too—Lila really liked this one.
We’re off to enjoy the snow! Have a great day!
More and more, we’ve been trying to make dinner an “everybody” event—that is, we cook together (or at least hang out in the kitchen while one of us is cooking), and we eat together. For a long time, Lila was eating earlier than us by herself—we’d sit at the table with her to eat, but she’d eat her dinner, have a bath, and then go to bed, at which point Ryan and I would
sit down for dinner eat dinner in front of the tv. I know, I know—it’s bad, but by the end of the day, it was SO nice to just veg out and eat dinner with a Breaking Bad episode.
But, around the new year, we decided to make more of an effort to eat dinner all together—the three of us, sitting at the table. It takes a little more effort, because that means dinner needs to be ready at 6 or 6:30, rather than the usual 7:15 or so. But, it’s worth it. Lila has gotten really great about sitting at the table, contributing to the discussion (though most of her points revolve around “Wa Wa”—Christopher Robin), and trying most of the foods on her plate.
I mean, she’s a toddler—she doesn’t eat everything (as demonstrated by the quinoa pictures below). But there’s an incredible “monkey see, monkey do” quality that we try to take advantage of at dinner time—if she sees Mama and Dada eating quinoa, she’s usually pretty likely to at least try it—even if she ends up spitting it back out.
Lately, I’ve been using our learning tower to involve Lila in the cooking process even more. She stands in her tower while I cook, and she watches me chop, pour, stir, etc. While I’m cooking, we talk about the colors of the foods, what they taste like, etc.:
I really do think involving her in the meal has made more more likely to try the foods once we’re at the table. She wasn’t crazy about the quinoa for last night’s meal, but she was happily munching on tempeh and roasted veggies:
For this dinner, we roasted a BIG pan of veggies and skillet-grilled some tempeh. We used those to build some tasty grain bowls: quinoa, veggies, tempeh, parmesan cheese, hemp seeds, and a drizzle of lemon vinaigrette.
Like I said, the roasted veggies were a hit. The quinoa didn’t go down so easily:
The cookie we picked up at Earth Fare for dessert, however, was a popular item:
Any child who gets THAT excited about a chocolate chip cookie has to be mine.
Hope you have a great Wednesday!