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Monday, January 27, 2014

Slow Cooking

The slow cooker, aka the Crock Pot can be such a helpful tool in your kitchen.  Especially if you are very busy and have little time to spend cooking.  But here's the thing, there are so many recipes out there for using the slow cooker that are not clean, healthy eating.  Also, there are many recipes that require some pre-cooking like browning meat on the stove first.  As someone who understands food and the science of cooking, I completely understand why a recipe will yield better results with that method.  As a busy mom, who hates dishes, I feel like it defeats the convenience of the slow cooker.  So this week I wanted to bring you some great recipes that are very easy to assemble and they are healthy. 

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken- This recipe suggests eating the cooked chicken over chunks of raw zucchini.  But there are plenty of options for serving this.  It would also be easy to eat it over brown rice.  Or in butter lettuce cups or with tortillas as filling in a wrap.

Chicken Fajitas- This is a simple recipe for chicken fajitas that you can prep in advance, put in a freezer bag to freeze and then just defrost the night before you want to cook it.

2 peppers, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 pound chicken breast
1/2 cup chicken broth
1  taco seasoning packet (or 1 tablespoon of Homemade Taco Seasoning)
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt

1.    Put all the ingredients in a large freezer bag. (Make sure you label the bag with instructions.)
2.    When it’s time to cook it, dump it all in your slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
3.    When it’s cooked, shred the meat and add it back to the pepper mixture and serve on warm tortillas and your favorite toppings.

Vegan Crock Pot Polenta Lasagna- Instead of layers of noodles, this recipe uses polenta.  Because it is vegan, it includes a recipe for a vegan cheese sauce to layer with the vegetables and polenta.  You can easily just use shredded part skim mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #4: A Complaint Free Week

In week one, we talked about paying attention to the positive things in your life. This week's challenge is a play on the same idea: Whatever you feed grows.

This week, continue to feed the positive by eliminating negative words from your life.

How many times in a day do you engage in negative self talk? "I can't do this!" "My hips are too wide!" "I'm too slow a runner!" And how often do you complain about other things? "My husband never puts his dirty clothes in the hamper!" "My mother in law calls too early in the morning!"

We all do it, and it can a hard habit to break!

Give yourself a little visual (and physical) reminder of this week's challenge. Put a rubber band around your wrist and wear it like a bracelet. When you catch yourself in a complaint, give the band a tug. SNAP SNAP!

When you stop complaining, you have no choice but to focus on the positive. And by feeding only the positive, the good stuff grows and grows.

Have a GREAT (and complaint free) week!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Healthy Party Foods

In the next couple weeks you may be faced with hosting or attending a football party, or an Academy Awards party.  I put together a few suggestions for healthy options for party food.  And actually, you will love these so much you will just want to make them "just because"!

Obvious things like fruit or veggies platters are easy, but people often pass over that for the fatty and sugary foods.  But you can make them more attractive with a delicious and healthy dip.  Hummus, of course is something we often suggest on meal plans and food logs.  Take it up a notch with Avocado Cilantro Hummus.  Another fantastic dip to serve with veggies and baked pita chips is 5 Layer Greek Dip.

Instead of a green salad, try this protein and nutrient packed Black Bean Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing.

My own recipe for Tomato, Avocado and Corn Salsa is awesome for eating with grilled chicken, tortilla chips or adding on top of salad.

Looking for a hot appetizer?  Try these Low Fat Artichoke Spinach Dip Stuffed Mushrooms.  The recipe uses baby portabellas, you could use smaller mushrooms for bite size appetizers. 

Need more recipes or ideas for clean, healthy eating?  Email me at erika@e-mealplanning.com

Friday, January 17, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge: Make an Appointment for Fitness!

If you ask an average woman on the street why she doesn't exercise regularly, odds are the answer will be "I don't have time." And the truth is, there isn't a single one of us who has enough time to do everything that needs doing.

Most of the important "to do's" in our lives are scheduled in advance. Dentist? Doctor? Hair cut? Lunch with a friend? Send a card for Aunt Dianna's birthday? Just about all of these things get planned in advance - written on a calendar, note, list, etc.

Something as important as your own health deserves at least equal attention!!

This week, schedule an appointment for fitness. Sit down with your calendar (or favorite tech gadget) and set the date and time for your workouts. When will you exercise? Where? What specifically are you going to do? Will you have a workout partner? Record it all wherever you keep track of all your other appointments. And then...

KEEP THE APPOINTMENT. You wouldn't stand up your doctor, boss or best friend would you? Give yourself the same courtesy and respect.

By Sunday night at 7pm, have your schedule set. For a little extra accountability, let your coach know what your schedule is, and email her after each of your appointments.

Now go get your calendar and plan for a great week!

Monday, January 13, 2014


If you were lucky enough to get a Vitamix or Ninja as a gift recently then you are probably looking for all kinds if smoothie recipes.
Here is a great little smoothie chart to give you inspiration for your own fruit and veggie combinations.

This smoothie is a little different and if you are someone who doesn't like a thick texture, you may not like this, but any good blender will make it very smooth:  Banana Oatmeal Smoothie 
It's delicious and very filling.  I highly recommend that all the ingredients be cold and/or frozen.  It's a great use for leftover oatmeal or make some oatmeal before bed, stick it in the fridge and then use it with frozen bananas.  It's perfect for after a Bootcamp session!

My personal go to smoothie that I like is very simple.  Pineapple, mango, banana, Greek yogurt (I usually have vanilla on hand) and then either vanilla almond milk or orange juice.  When I'm making it just for myself it's just two or three chunks of each fruit, two heaping tablespoons of yogurt and then I start with a 1/4 cup of liquid and pour in more as I blend until it is the consistency I like (I prefer thicker).  If I have little cutie mandarins, I'll throw one of those in too.  I don't use crushed ice because I use frozen fruit and don't want to water it down.

What about green smoothies?  Wondering how they taste or what is the best way to make one?  Here is a great one for you to start with.  Beginner's Green Smoothie.

I personally don't consider a smoothie a replacement for a meal, especially since my usual smoothie is mostly fruit with juice and a little yogurt, but it can be a great start for breakfast first thing in the morning followed with whole wheat toast and peanut butter. There is a whole world of protein powders to choose from as well as vitamin supplements that can be added to make a smoothie a vehicle for more nutrition and fuel for starting your day. 

Leave a comment and share your favorite smoothie!

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #2 - Drink your Water!

Drinking lots of a water is one of the easiest way to improve your health and change your body. We recommend that you drink 80 to 100 ounces every single day.

Other than the fact that water tastes refreshing and clean, there are so many other benefits of drinking 80 ounces or more of water every day. Here are just a few…

** Being hydrated reduces/eliminates headaches

** Being hydrated fights fatigue/give you energy

**Drinking water is an appetite suppressant (most of the time that you think you are hungry, you are actually thirsty)

** Water helps kidney functioning properly

** Water helps Liver metabolize and flush out fat and toxins

** You can burn 30% more calories when hydrated

** Being hydrated will give you beautiful skin and hair

** Your body is over 80% water (need I say more)

But wait, there’s more! Drinking water at the correct time maximizes its effectiveness on the Human body as well:

2 glasses of water after waking up; helps activate internal organs
1 glass of water 30 minutes before a meal; helps digestion
1 glass of water before taking a bath; helps lower blood pressure
1 glass of water before going to bed; avoids stroke or heart attack

Find your Mojo with 80-100 ounces every day. Your body will love you for it!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Sweet Snacks

Something that I have noticed in reviewing the food logs of many Mamas is that in an attempt to keep the calorie intake low, but still treat themselves to something sweet they will eat 1 or 2 cookies or a mini candy or something like that.  And sure, maybe it keeps you within your calorie intake range, but it's empty calories that most likely doesn't fuel your body.  Not to mention if you are hungry, it doesn't usually satisfy hunger and it also requires plenty of willpower to limit yourself to just one or two.  It's a very slippery slope when it comes to empty calorie, processed foods.  Yes, you should do your food logs and count the calorie intake to keep yourself accountable and stay within the suggested calorie intake.  So maybe those 2 cookies are just 80 calories, or a bag of those processed 100 calorie snacks makes you feel like you had a treat but didn't eat many calories.  But instead, feed your body a snack or a "treat" that sometimes could be a littler higher in calories, but they are high quality calories.  So this week I want to share with you a couple of options for something that you could have as a sweet treat, but would also provide more nutrition than a cookie or tiny piece of candy.

1.  Fruit, fruit, fruit.  The better snacking option is natural, clean eating and wholesome fruit.  It's winter and we live in an area abundant with yummy and sweet mandarin oranges (40 calories in 1).  Or lovely crisp apples (95 cal in a medium size).   If you want, make this great dip for apples and bananas.  Mix a small container of vanilla non-fat Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  It holds up well in the refrigerator for several days; make some and pack it in small containers with your grab-and-go bags of fruit, for a snack that is sweet, healthy and a great combo of fiber and protein.  Fills you up and fuels your body!

2.  Make your own healthier cookie.  There are some good recipes out there.  I have one of my own, it's actually a no-bake cookie dough ball.  It's a good for the late afternoon if you feel a dip in your energy level, or also if you need a little sweet treat after dinner.  Check out my No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls.  Taste tested and approved by our Mama Bootcamp Coaches.  Another snack that I love is from fellow Mama, Allison and it's over on her blog, Get NaturedLemon Coconut Energy Balls.  Not only can they be a healthy snack, but a great recovery food.  Pack one or two in a container and eat them on your way home after bootcamp.

For more recipes or suggestions you can email me at erika@e-mealplanning.com.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Weekly Challenge #1: An Attitude of Gratitude

Happy New Year!

The year is spread out in front of you like a book of empty pages, ready to be filled.  We at Mama Bootcamp want to help you make this your very best year ever by helping you find your MOJO in every way you can. We hope you will join us by participating in our weekly challenges, getting to Bootcamp and working toward all your goals. 

Challenge #1: An Attitude of Gratitude
Start off the year by actively being thankful for all the good things in your life. Remembering to be thankful for the good stuff - big and small - can help you get your "attitude on right." Whatever you focus on gets bigger and more important. So instead of focusing on the less positive (something you are angry about, negative feelings about a job, etc.) and making those things more important, take a minute to feel thankful for the positives in your life.

Start keeping a Gratitude Journal. Every day, write down three things you are thankful for. Every entry must be different every day.  Nothing is too big and nothing is too small - just focus on the lovely in your life.

What a great way to start 2014!

I (Coach Lara) will get you started with my top three gratitudes:

1) I am grateful for my husband and daughter, who love me for me unconditionally
2) I am thankful for the technology that makes far away friends accessible and lets me stay in touch.
3) I am grateful my foam roller!

We'd love to know what you are grateful for - will you share?