#whatiatemonday | Banana Nut Oatmeal

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Every Monday I have been sharing my meals on Instagram. One of my followers suggested that I share recipes on the blog, thus begins my #whatiatemonday posts. Today I am sharing my breakfast from last week, Banana Nut Oatmeal (a personal favorite).

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This recipe stems from my love of all things banana nut bread, muffin, ice cream, etc. Unfortunately banana nut bread, in its most delicious form, is decidedly unsuitable for daily consumption. At the same time, I do not want to make my favorite treat “healthy” just to eat it on a daily basis.

 

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Instead I followed my own advice. I took something I enjoy eating, and found a healthier way to enjoy the same flavors. I do not particularly enjoy oatmeal enough to eat it daily, but this recipe is the exception. Truly, I could eat this every single day and be happy. 

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Best of all, its nutricious, filing, and tasty. I used a combination of almond milk and water to cook the oatmeal. Instead of butter and sugar, I added honey to sweeten and vanilla extract for that baked treat flavor. Lastly frozen banana creates the perfect texture, but especially that baked banana flavor.

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I enjoy the oatmeal with cooked nuts as well as topped with fresh nuts (usually walnuts or almonds). Post workout I combine the Banana Nut Oatmeal with a green smoothie with added protein. Please let me know if you try this delightfully healthy breakfast and share with me your favorite breakfast treat!

Banana Nut Oatmeal

Dietbet | Before

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The Dietbet Summer Slim Down Challenge that I am participating in officially began yesterday. I am of course shooting for a more lean physique. That means that I am eating clean with no cheat days. Plus I am  completing the Bender Fitness 30 Day Lean Muscle Building program in the mornings and running 6 days a week (usually in the evenings).  I had to take starting photos for submission, so this is what my body looks like after 30 days of Bender Fitness:IMG_0906 IMG_0909 IMG_0913

I see a little mid section definition and my legs are more toned/shapely. I am really excited to complete this next 30 days because the change in my physique is pretty great in just 30 days! After photos will post in 30 days time. Also, I will post meal prep videos and a menu weekly.

New Home Gym Equipment

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I am slowly building a simple home gym based on equipment that Melissa Bender has listed on her website. Last month I added a ball, a kettle bell and a heavier set of free weights. This month I decided to purchase the Ultimate Body Press Dip Stand.

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I hate having to use a chair to perform dips. I’m always a little hesitant to put my weight on the front end of a chair when it has very little weight on the back. Plus this Dip Stand can be used for pull ups, rows, and more. I ordered from the website, but Amazon.com is about the same price. I picked up the box from the post office, and as soon as I arrived home I opened the package to peek at the contents.

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The first thing I noticed was that most of the work was already done for me. I spied only one page of directions, and upon reading I was beginning to think that I was headed for an IKEA disaster. The directions say to use color coding to put the equipment together, however the directions are in black and white!!!IMG_0834

However, upon closer inspection, I was able to see that the color coding was on the equipment itself and was very simple to assemble. Regardless, the little drawing on the instructions was definitely unhelpful as the parts themselves have no numbers. IMG_0838IMG_0836

I was able to assemble the Dip Stand in less than five minutes, and once complete, I couldn’t resist trying a dip or two (peek the lack of workout clothing). Can we say challenging!!! This equipment is going to be a great muscle builder for me!

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What do you have in your “home gym”?

2015 | Health and Fitness Goals

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It is 2015 and I decided to set specific health & fitness goals for the first time ever. I do not do New Years resolutions, I prefer goals, which I consistently evaluate throughout the year. This years biggest goal is to lean out, however the journey there is what the goals detailed in this video are all about:

As promised, I will blog and/or vlog weekly. I will try new recipes and share on my social media pages, youtube or the blog. All in all, I plan to really kick 2015’s ass and I hope you will join me in the journey.

What are your plans for 2015?

2015 | The Plan

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The new year is days away and I am looking forward to all it has to offer. I had a good 2014, but I will do a separate post concerning that. 2015 will be about leaning out, reaching new running goals and conquering snacking.

FITNESS

I am currently on the Hanson Half Marathon plan in preparation for a Half Marathon I am doing in March, however I have a 5k planned in January and a half in February as well.

I am doing a 12 week beginner weight lifting series I found on Pinterest as a simple and easy lifting option while training. Post training, in the off season, I plan to go hard on the weights and really build some total body strength. I will spend the last part of the year training for another Marathon, of which I have yet to decide upon.

Altogether, I plan to have a dynamite year of fitness in 2015.

FOOD

My annual soup season has already begun with a delicious chicken and vegetable soup (my recipe). Next up will be a Samosa soup, with what I hope will be a delicious take on one of my favorite dishes. I am now storing my soups differently and nixing the constant variety. Instead I make one pot of soup, eat it until it runs out and make another. I will do a video on how I store and re-heat my soup. I will continue with soup through the winter, and then move back to Mason Jar salads over the summer, not sure about Spring right now.

I have been slacking on my green smoothies, but I plan to start ingesting a green smoothie with whey as my post exercise meal on workout days. They make such great recovery meals, and will not cut into daily calories that way.

I need to get a better handle on dinner, so for the next year I plan to meal plan around this bit of advice:

I want to take the serious thought process out and just eat based on my current goal. My immediate post holiday goal will be fat loss, so dinner will consist of mostly Protein and veggies. I am still snacking during work and eating soup immediately post. I have been bored with breakfast, but I need to eat what is in my house, so the immediate mission will be to “shop my house” until I run out of breakfast options.

I received a wonderful new camera as a Christmas gift, so I will also post a lot more in the new year.

*Cheers* to a New Year and an even better you!

Lunch | Mason Jar Salads

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Its warmer outside, and for the moment, I have had enough of soup and am happy with salads. I saw the Mason Jar salad idea on Pinterest last year and thought that would be the easiest take to work route. I have plenty of pint size Mason Jars, so I cleaned them, dried them with Microfiber towels and filled them to the brim.

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I live in Florida, so I knew that I was going to head to the Farmers Market to pick all of my veggies up at the lowest price.   I purchased Romaine lettuce, baby tomatoes, cucumber, and red bell pepper; I went to Sam’s Club and picked up a pound of Organic Baby Spring Mix; then I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up a whole chicken, gorgonzola crumbles, pecan pieces and almond slivers. With all of this stocked in my fridge and internet research, I put together 5 salads for the week.

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Week 1

I put the salad dressing in a separate little container because I just wanted to be sure my salad didn’t go bad before I was ready to eat it. To cook the chicken, I woke up Saturday, put the whole chicken in my crock pot along with some onion and spices and set it to high. I went for a run, cleaned my house and once finished my chicken was done! I then shredded all of the chicken off the bone, put the bone back in the crockpot, added water and things and made broth for freezing. The next day I took the chicken out, plus the various veggies, cheeses and Voila! I must say that this is working beautifully!

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Week 2

This is my second week of Mason Jar Salads, and boy oh boy is this a winner. I simply take a plastic fork with me to work, paper plates can be found at my job, so this is easier than the soup because I do not have to microwave anything. The possibilities with salads are endless, not to mention salad dressing. I am loving these salad’s and will continue with this route until I want something else. I will share my favorite salad combos and dressing as I go.

Freezer Staples | Making Healthy Eating Easy and Cheaper

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I have come to realize that the most practical way to purchase healthy food on a budget is by purchasing items that will be held in my freezer. This also makes cooking for one easy as well.

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In my last post I spoke about my soup files, which have really made lunch easy. With the remainder of my freezer staples I kept that same meal portions concept in mind.

First up, Chicken Breast. I eat chicken every week in soups, curries, wraps, etc, so I wanted to find a good economical frozen bag of breast fillets. However, I still wanted hormone free, organic chicken packaged with as few preservatives as possible. I went to my three favorite stores for purchasing meat, perused their selection, and chose the best option.
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Of the options, Trader Joe’s won, hands down. This 2lb bag of frozen breast meat is hormone free , there are no preservatives, and is individually frozen (meaning I don’t have to pry stuck pieces of chicken apart. Each breast is 4oz., which for me is a perfect portion. Continuing with meat, seafood and beef.

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I live in Florida with easily accessible, cheap seafood, so it’s a must in my life. I go to the market, buy a few large fillets, cut them into the portions I need and freeze them in water (keeps frost bite away). For example, I bought one sizeable Salmon fillet and cut it into 4 portions ($6.99/lb), a good size Mahi Mahi fillet (9.99/lb, cost $7 that day) and cut it into two portions, and a pound of Bay Scallops (5.99/pound) portioned into 4 clumps. I froze each portion separately and ended up with about a months worth of seafood. I also purchased a pound of lean ground beef from Trader Joe’s (5.99/lb), seasoned and froze it in two separate portions (spaghetti and stuffed peppers).

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Last of the seafood is frozen shrimp. I almost bought shrimp from the same seafood market, but my sister pointed out that the bag from the Publix Frozen food section is peeled and deveined, which will make those tired nights easier, so I splurged and purchased the one pound bag for $18.99. Seems expensive, but when you do the portion math, it’s not so bad, none the less it’s a splurge. Next up was Smoothie fruit:

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My sister kindly pointed out to me that I could purchase a 5 lb bag of mixed fruit from Sam’s Club for $10.98, and that was that. I make a green smoothie daily and this bag of frozen fruit is by far more economical than anything else I was purchasing. I still add a piece of fresh fruit to my smoothie (banana, mango, avocado or pear), and save lots of money. Last but not least is veggies:

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I was hesitant to purchase frozen veggies because they do not have as much flavor as the fresh variety, but the nutritional value is higher, so I decided to give it a try. Economically, Walmart wins with these three pound bags of Bird’s Eye veggies are $2.99 a piece. As you can see I am almost done with one of the bags. These are so easy to steam, throw in a stir fry, noodles or curry dish. They have cut down on cooking and prep time tremendously.

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I have to admit that while economical, they do not have as much flavor as their never frozen counterparts. Plus, pesticides and preservatives, well you decide. None the less, these freezer staples have made life sooooooo much easier. My weekly grocery spending is sooooo much cheaper and meal planning now starts with the freezer!