Meal Prep Sundays | Easy and Healthy Recipes

Happy Sunday! I wanted to share some recipes that I’ve been loving the past few months that are healthy, easy to make, and a great start to the New Year! Part of changing my diet and eating healthy was starting with Meal Prep Sundays! The idea is that on Sundays, or whatever day works for your schedule, you prep all of your meals for the week. This way you have healthy meals already made so you don’t have to think about what to cook or worry about making a healthy meal. I tend to prep only my lunches, and if I’m being really good I prep some healthy snacks to eat throughout the week, then I like to have an idea of what I’ll make for dinner during the week.

I get most of my recipe ideas and inspirations from Pinterest and tailor them to my diet and liking. I just went through my recipes board and removed all the cookie recipes I had added for the holidays. In the future, I think I’ll create a holiday board so that I can keep the yummy holiday recipes separate from my healthy, everyday recipes. I also keep a separate recipe board with meat recipes in case I want to make something separate for Jake. Generally, I don’t eat meat or fish, but go through these periods of time when I really crave a shrimp taco or broiled salmon, so I have them. For the most part, however, I stick to a vegetarian diet. I also try and stay away from carb loaded meals as much as I can. For me, I’ve found that not eating carbs as much as I can avoid them is the real trick to keeping fit in terms of my diet.

cous cous

Photo Courtesy of PicJumbo.com

Meal Prep Lunches

Quinoa Bowls | Quinoa is a great staple and alternative to other grains and it should be kept in the kitchen pantry at all times. It’s great as the base for cold salads, in casseroles, or used to replace rice and sometimes even pasta depending on the recipe. I love making fried quinoa, in place of rice, and adding in a lot of veggies – try this Very Veggie Fried Rice from Cooking Classy! One of my favorite recipes for quick and healthy meal prepping are quinoa bowls! There are endless possibilities depending on your favorite vegetables and what protein you add in. Cook quinoa to your liking, I use a slow cooker on high for a few hours, and cool in the fridge. Once cool, divide quinoa into microwave safe containers, add in black beans, add vegetables or your choice – I like using fresh carrots and broccoli, and sprinkle seasoning of your choice on top. All you have to do is pop it in the microwave for two minutes, and your lunch is done. It may not sound exciting, but I love this! This recipe was inspired by a vegan lunch ideas post found on Vegan Runner Eats. I also found a recipe on Lemon Tree Dwelling for quinoa taco bowls that I’d love to try! I can see this being a great alternative to traditional taco salad during the spring months. Not only are these great recipes for eating healthy, but they’re cost effective to anyone on budget!

Lunchables for Adults | Making a Lunchable type meal is another easy way to prep meals. You put together your favorite meals that you want at lunch and you can measure them out so you know the nutrition facts if you’re tracking calories. You’ll need a larger container for this one, I have these EasyLunchboxes from Amazon that have three divided areas for different foods. They only come in a 4-pack, so you’ll have to reuse one for later in the work week. Other than that, these are great! I’ve had them for a few years now and I really enjoy them! Perfect for portion control, children, and stacking in the fridge. My two staple meals for these are a brown rice, broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes lunch and a Mediterranean salad, cottage cheese, hard boiled egg combo – try this Mediterranean quinoa salad or use garbanzo beans instead of quinoa! These containers are also great for reheating leftover chicken or fish at work. If you’re not a fan of plastic containers in the microwave, invest in a glass storage set, like this Pyrex 20-Piece Set I just got for Christmas!

mealprep

Soups | If I could make all my meals in a Crock Pot, I would. It’s the best for making nearly any meal and it’s almost impossible to fail at the recipe. So many coworkers have been impressed with my prepped meals, but the secret is throwing all the ingredients into the Crock Pot and letting the magic happen. Soups are perfect for the winter months, and for the most part pretty healthy. Try and avoid cream based soups if you’re looking to cut calories, stick to soups with a lot of vegetable and proteins, and use sodium reduced products if you’re concerned about the salt content.

Some great recipes to try out are this Fall Vegetable Crock Pot Barley Soup from Better Recipes, which includes sweet potatoes and barley, so be careful on your serving size or lower the amount of those two ingredients. It’s super filling and tasty – I love the seasonings in this soup. There’s also this great cannellini bean soup from Martha Stewart. This recipe doesn’t specifically say it can be cooked in a Crock Pot but I’ve done it in the past and it works out fine. It’s been a while since I did a Crock Pot soup – I’m thinking it’ll be next on my list of meal prepping.

Tacos | Jake and I have not been able to get enough tacos this past fall and winter. Even though you can’t really prep tacos for lunch, they are easy to make and you can pretty much add any toppings that you want. The basics of our taco recipes are a tortilla, cabbage, a protein, shredded cheese, cilantro, pice de gallo, and a bit of sriracha mayo. A few great recipes to try are this chipotle lime shrimp tacos from Closet Cooking that calls for a creama lime sour cream, that can of course be omitted. For an vegetarian alternative, I sometimes use chickpeas and let them marinade the same way the shrimp would. For when I don’t feel like cooking, I’ll use my Crock Pot and make these black bean, sweet potato tacos from Kayln’s Kitchen. All I have to do is add in a can of black beans, two sweet potatoes, cumin and coriander seasonings, and let it cook on low while I’m at work. Super easy, super delicious, and a great fall and winter recipe. Always add extra cilantro on top!

Today I’m prepping the brown rice, broccoli, and mashed sweet potato meal and packing up some leftovers. I hope this helps a few of you trying new recipes for 2016 or getting into meal prepping. If you’re really interested in meal prep Sunday’s be sure to check out the subreddit for it on Reddit. People are always posting their preps, container options, and great recipes to try! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter to see daily updates throughout the week to see what I’m up to!

A Year Ahead | 2016 Goals

I’m a firm believer of living in the moment and try very hard not to dwell on what could happen in the future (or what has already happened), but that doesn’t mean I can’t make a few New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. Last year, my main goal was to become for organized and I think I achieved that. I now use a daily planner that I keep in my purse and have a weekly whiteboard that hangs in the kitchen with the schedule on it. For 2016, I decided to have a few goals to reach for instead of just one big one.

Be more creative.
My main goal for 2016 is to be more creative. I’ve never been someone who is into photography or art – I simply do not think on a creative level. I much prefer tasks to be written down or in a schedule before I do them, rather than performing on the spot. How does one measure creativity though? Not too sure, but I’m going to figure it out. I’ve already invested in a nice camera (well nice for me) – a Canon PowerShot SX530 HS digital camera on Black Friday and I’ve playing around with taking photos of products for my blog and of everyday life. Please if you have any helpful tips with photography, leave them below! Currently, I’m trying to figure out how to add watermarks to my photos without having Photoshop, so we’ll see how that goes. For Christmas Jake got me a tripod so I’ll be able to easily take pictures for my blog and maybe take some short videos for Instagram! I also hope that a camera would be a great investment for traveling throughout the year. Finally, recommitting myself to blogging is another way for me to be more creative. It gets me thinking and brings me back to my love of writing!

I also wouldn’t mind taking on a few more projects around the house and giving DIYs a chance. There’s a lot of opportunities in our house for updating, even if it’s just painting or staining, and that’s something I know I’m fully capable of doing. It’s having the time and patience to get it done is where I need to focus in on. We’ve already made a DY headboard for our bed made from some wood, batting, and fabric, inspired by this post from Kindle Your Creativity I found on Pinterest. I’d also like to do some DIY crafts to add decorations around the house.

Keep traveling.
Over the past year I’ve started traveling and making lists of where I’d like to visit! In 2015 I visited Iceland, San Francisco, Duluth, and the North Shore in Minnesota – while Duluth and the North Shore are only short road trips I still consider them to be a traveling experience since neither are places are travel on a regular basis. Jake and I haven’t made any solid plans yet, but we are really hoping to continue traveling around every six months or so. I’m not sure we’ll be able to keep to that, given my new work schedule and Jake starting up school full time, but hopefully we’ll be able to fit in another international trip in 2016.

Some of my tops places I’d like to visit include Australia, New Zealand, Greece, and France. We may actually have a chance to visit Australia and New Zealand in the next two years because one of Jake’s friends is moving to Australia to go to medical school! I’m hoping we’ll be able to swing a visit when his friend is nearing the end of his education in Australia. I may be visiting a friend in Los Angeles during the spring that would include a trip to Disney Land! We had also hoped to visit Alaska over the summer, but those plans unfortunately fell through so we may looking into that ourselves. The other option for 2016 that will likely happen is visiting Mexico, Puerto Rico, or a country in Central America – probably someplace that is a little more touristy than we’re used to.

Get that tattoo.
I’ve been talking about getting a certain tattoo for over a year now and I just haven’t take the time to do it. Ironically, the tattoo has to do with living in the moment instead of looking the future. I need to take the time to find the font that I want this phrase tattooed in and bring it into an artist. Currently I have three tattoos, all of which are very simple or are words, so that tattoo I want isn’t that much different than those, but if that’s what I like then it make sense to do it! At some point I’d like to invest and get a larger, custom tattoo in memory of mom or on my shoulder/back area, but I have no idea where I want to start with that right now.

Continue to improve and grow.
I’ve changed and grown so much as a person since I graduated from high school and college, so much more than I ever thought I would. Just when I think I’m done growing and I’ve found who I am, I’m surprised at how I can continue to change. I’ve become very active and physically fit in the past three years, something that I would have never seen in myself as during high school or college. I’ve learned to cook meals and enjoy a wider variety of foods since the simple meals in the college years. Cooking is something I’ve grown to be very good at and love making our meals for the week.

I’m excited to continue on my fitness journey and hope to be in even better shape than I was last year. Some of my goals for my fitness journey in 2016 are to incorporate high interval training into my spring routine. I plan to purchase a jumping rope that I can use during kettle bell workouts in the backyard and also while doing squats and dead lifts at the gym. I’d also love to do 5K this year, hopefully with my dad, something I’ve never done before. During December, I hit a few personal records at the gym and I’m hoping to continue growing those numbers, especially on my chest press since that’s my weakest muscle group at the moment. I’ll go into specifics of my fitness goals in another post.

Be happy.
My ultimate goal in life is to be happy. As long as I’m doing what makes me happy, no matter what anyone else thinks, that’s what matters. This blog is one of those things I’m happy to being doing and spending time on. Going to the gym and being active makes me happy, so I work hard at the lifestyle. Be happy.

Whatever your goals are for 2016, I hope that you can achieve them all! A new year is a great time to make changes or setting new goals! However, don’t feel like that you can’t make changes or update your goals throughout the year. Do what makes you happy and works the best for you. Happy New Year! Ready for new adventures!

Friday Favorites | 12.18.15

I thought I’d start doing Friday Favorites posts when I have products to share with from the previous week. On YouTube, I’m subscribed to LipglossLeslie who does these videos weekly and they’re some of my favorite to watch. These posts also shows what I like do and wear throughout the work week in terms of makeup, clothes, and lifestyle updates.

Makeup

Brownie Points

ELF Smudge Pot – Brownie Points

ELF Smudge Pot Brownie Points

I’ve had the ELF Smudge Pot in Crusin’ Chic for a while and it’s the best cream shadow I own! It’s very similar in color to the Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze, but better. I purchased a new Bad to Bronze this past spring and it’s already too dry for my liking. The ELF Smudge Pots don’t dry out – they’re creamy, pigmented, and are great for one shadow looks and bases for more dramatic looks. brownie points label

I purchased Brownie Points because LipglossLeslie talked so highly about it, and it’s just as good as she said. It’s slightly darker and more bronze than Crusin’ Chic and works great as a base for a smokey eye. All I did was pop a transition shade in the crease, add some smokey liner, and use an inner corner highlight.
Definitely wearing that smokey eye to our upcoming Winter Solstice Party! I’m even thinking about going back to Target to get the Wine Not color, which would be great for a Christmas look!

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Cannes

NYX matte lip cream

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Cannes

I picked this up at Ulta while I taking advantage of my 20% off coupon that’s offered during the holidays. I had always heard great things about these lip products, and I’m so happy I finally picked one up. I definitely want to go back and get a whole bunch more! The formula isn’t drying, even after the product sets down to a nearly matte finish. I own the liquid to matte lipsticks from Milani and ColourPop, and I’m not crazy about either especially the ColourPop formula – they’re just too dry. The NYX isn’t. And the color is a great everyday, terra cotta shade that I can easily wear to work or on an evening out.

 

Simple Eye Looks
Since I get up pretty early to be into work around 8 a.m., I usually keep the makeup pretty fast and simple. I don’t usually like doing simple eye looks as much, but this week I’ve really been into it. I’ve been using bronze and taupe shades to make everything easy, but still put-together for work. I dug out MAC’s Satin Taupe which was one of the first MAC shadows I ever purchased, and I still love it!

 

Outfit of the Week

HM sweater

Sweater – H&M, Necklace – Call It Spring

I think it would be fun to share my favorite outfit of the week if I’m able to get a good photo of it! I recently started a new job and had to switch to a business casual dress code, so I’m still learning on what clothes work for my style and that I can wear to work. This week my favorite outfit were simple black pants, a green sweater, low wedges, and a statement necklace. The pants are from OldNavy.com, petite section and sweater is this from H&M in an amazing jade green color that I always get compliments on it. The low wedges are Nine West Irina Wedge Pump add a bit of
sophistication to the outfit and I got the necklacerose gold necklace from Call It Spring two summers ago.

 

 

Cookies!
There’s not many times of the year when I rave about how much I’m enjoying cookies, but Christmas and holidays are an exception to the rule! It’s a tradition for many families to make cookies in celebration of their holiday this season. This past week I made two cookie recipes that I want to share in case anyone is looking for a new recipe to try this weekend! First, Jake and I made eggnog cookies last weekend; eggnog being one of Jake’s favorites this time of year. They’re soft and chewy, a little sweet so be careful with how many you have in one sitting. Then there was a cookie exchange at work and I brought cranberry and white chocolate chip cookies. These were amazing and highly recommend them! I found the recipe on Pinterest, and she suggests adding white chocolate chips to the tops of the cookies as soon as they’re out of the oven to make them look even tastier!

Mexican Inspired Summer Meals

The past few weeks I’ve been super into Mexican inspired dishes for healthy summer dinners. I’ve never been one for Mexican food, but something about avocados and cilantro lately has tasted amazing. My go-to site for recipes, suprise, surprise is Pinterest. I’ve found quite a few good recipes that I’ve made for both Jake and I that have gone over very well.

The Cilantro Lime Shrimp Tacos has a lot of steps and because of the seafood, tends to cost the most, but it’s very delicious. This recipe would be great for a grill out as the recipe suggests, but we made ours in a saute pan and it turned out very tasty.  I would definitely suggest letting the shrimp marinate for a couple of hours and using large to jumbo shrimp since they shrink while cooking.

Quinoa is awesome for recipes as the main part of the dish or as a replacement for rice or other grains. I use it all the time for salads or to replace rice in fried rice or stir fry. I don’t usually like quinoa so much in warmer dishes, but this Quinoa Enchilada Casserole is amazing, even Jake was surprised and loved it. We omitted the corn from our version and didn’t as a lot of jalapeno. This would even be great as a taco filling or in eggs for a breakfast dish. A similar recipe to this was One Pan Mexican Quinoa. This version is instead made on the stove top as opposed to the oven, which is a little bit more forgiving during the warmer summer months. If you live in an apartment or house without central air, like me, then you’ll probably prefer the stove top version.

This week, I have a few leftover black beans and corn from a failed quinoa taco recipe, and  I’m thinking I’ll just fry them up in a saucepan with taco seasoning, cook up some minute rice, and make my own version of vegetarian tacos. I have a busy week coming up and I’ll be moving soon, so I’m trying to avoid buying a whole ton of groceries so using up these bits of leftovers is perfect. I’m definitely on the search for the perfect vegetarian taco recipes, preferably one I could make in my Crock Pot, so I’ll continue looking and trying out new recipes for summer!

Major Budgeting

Well unfortunately, I was in a car accident this past week.  I am a-OK, minor sores from the seat belt and jolt, but I am alive and well.  The car on the other hand, is not doing too great.  The car went into the ditch and is well totaled, but what can you do.  I saw the accident happening before I could do anything so I relaxed, grabbed the wheel, and closed my eyes.  I was the most worried about what my mom would think as it was her car.  Sadly, she passed away about a year and half ago and I know she would be happy I’m in one piece, but I did feel bad for a minute.  These things happen and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  I’m thankful to be alive, unharmed, and have the means to purchase a new car so I can continue to work and make up for what has been lost.

So now that I’ve purchased a new car and I’m back to a major budget, what do I do with my healthy eating habits?  I’m currently on Pinterest looking for some healthy, vegetarian friendly meals.  I purchased a new programmable Crock Pot a few weekends ago and I’d love to use it more for weekly evening meals since it turns over to warm after a set time.  And with slower cooker meals, there’s always left overs for lunch.  Lunch meals are always my main point of concern because I’m the most hungry then.  My dinners tend to be lighter and packed with smaller portions of healthy options, such as cottage cheese, frozen veggies on the side, pretzels, and small leftover.  Often, I run after work and I’m not home until about 6:30 p.m., eating around 7:00 p.m.  I know that doesn’t sound very late, but I’m usually settled around 9:00 p.m. and in bed by 10:25 p.m., right after the weather reports.  Now I want to budget all my meals and say goodbye to any social life for a few weeks.

I have shopped at Aldi’s many times in the past two years, and I honestly enjoy it quite a bit.  I’ve read reviews online that talk pretty poorly of the store, but if you go in with a level head and keep your eye on the good stuff, you can come out with a lower grocery bill.  I will admit, that if you purchase the more processed, sugar, or carb foods your bill will be lower than what I generally pay, but don’t get pulled in by it.  You can get healthy food options at a fair price at Aldi’s.  For me it’s worth it to go and get the basics: eggs, almond milk (unsweetened even!), cottage cheese, quick oats, salad, brown rice, frozen veggies, and fresh fruits and veggies when they’re in season.  You’ll have to “splurge” a bit on frozen salmon, shrimp, or chicken breast (for Jake), but it’s a few dollars cheaper than the big box grocery stores; still worth it!  I can’t speak for the fresh meats as I don’t buy them, but do check it out and see if the price is worth buying.  It can be difficult to purchase the more specifics foods, like certain vegetables, quinoa, healthy dips, vegetable broth at time, and canned soups.  A lot of stock at Aldi is dependent on their weekly shipments and often, popular food sell fast.  The best time to go is right away when the store opens, even if it’s a weekend.  Because the store is smaller than most, you’ll be through within a half an hour for week of groceries.

Learning the skill of basic cooking will go far when you’re on a budget.  I couldn’t do more than scrambled eggs when I moved out, but my ability to look at a recipe and feel confident in making the recipe and have it turn out tasty has gone through the roof.  Even Jake has taken a notice to my cooking skills, and he worked in a restaurant kitchen year ago.  I’d like give my cooking skills a go with hosting a small gathering in the coming year, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

For now, I’m budgeting, meal planning, and keeping my neck and hip relaxed with a heating pad.  Please don’t be fooled by all of this talk of healthy eating and gym time, I do indulge in chocolate or sweets if I crave them, but I do try very hard to eat as healthy as possible.  I’ll be sure to update in a few weeks on my budget and meals.  Remember cutting season is nearly upon us!  And with it, spring which brings safer driving conditions.  Everyone be safe!