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Need some meal ideas? Whole30: Week 2

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Need some meal ideas? Whole30: Week 2

I cannot believe I’m starting my third week without sugar, caffeine, dairy, beans or legumes. It’s been great! My energy level is now constant until 10:30pm. At that point it becomes “find your bed ASAP”. Then after about seven hours of sleep I’m waking up before my alarm and am ready to start the day. I’ve never been a morning person yet chose a career that starts at 6:45am. Oh well. I’ve found that I am functioning better with less sleep, especially on post-call days. That’s a plus! And WHOLE30 required a drastic increase in protein from my previous eating habits that now I’m only hungry for snacks after exercising or on long work days. This week’s blog will just feature my favorites meals because I learned to appreciate leftovers. Here we go…

MEAL 1 FAVORITES

Bacon wrapped Egg McNuthin

Bacon wrapped Egg McNuthin

Berries with Egg McNuthins

Berries with Egg McNuthins (overcooked, oops)

Spinach omelet with bacon and berries

Spinach omelet with bacon and berries

Scrambled eggs with bacon and melon

Scrambled eggs with bacon and melon

  • Egg McNuthin’s were yummy and great for work days. Warning! They will ruin even your nonstick muffin tins (yep, learned this the hard way) so be sure to line them with silicone cups or coconut oil. I also made some with turkey. Here’s what I found at my local Publix. If you’ve got to by lunch meat be sure to watch out for nitrates.
Nitrate free turkey

Nitrate free turkey

 

MEAL 2 & 3 FAVORITES

Meatballs and zoodles

Meatballs and zoodles

Meatballs and green beans

Meatballs and green beans

Pan-roasted lemon chicken over spinach with apple + almond butter

Pan-roasted lemon chicken over spinach with apple + almond butter

Jalapeno chicken burgers on sweet potato buns with spinach salad

Jalapeño chicken burgers on sweet potato buns with spinach salad

Mexican lettuce wraps with oven-braised beef

Mexican lettuce wraps with oven-braised beef

  • Italian sausage meatballs with zoddles or green beans. This one was new for me. I’ve never made meatballs before. One thing is for sure, they’re hearty. I learned that I much prefer green beans as a base compared to zoodles. I haven’t mastered pulling the water out so the zoodles aren’t soggy but I may try again.
  • Pan-roasted lemon chicken (repeat)
  • Jalapeño chicken burgers with guac and sweet potato buns. Delicious! I grilled the burgers probably a little too long because they were rocks when I reheated them for leftovers the next day. Consider freezing extra patties and grilling or pan cooking them for each meal if possible.
  • And now for my favorite! Mexican lettuce wraps with guac, cilantro and lime juice. Here’s where my flop of the week comes in. I read through 2/3 of the blog with the recipe and started cooking this after dinner one night for work the next day. When I got to the photo step where there’s a line about putting it in the oven I paused. Bake for THREE HOURS. Seriously?! I did not have time for that before bed time so into the fridge it went. And “marinated” for 36 hours until I got home from work. On the bright side, I popped it in the oven Sunday morning and boom. Lunch, dinner and leftovers for work were done. I didn’t have fish sauce so I found the meat to be adaptable to different styles of meals – Mexican, Southern, or Oriental.

On day 14 I added in some exercise to this WHOLE30 routine. I gave myself enough time to get acclimated to the meal planning and cooking and felt ready to add in some movement.

There you have it. Another week is in the books. And I know you’re not supposed to weigh yourself but I did. Drum roll please…. I’m down 10.2 lbs in 14 days. Feeling good. Hope you all have a great week!

– C

Whole30: Week 1 & The Flood

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Happy 2015It’s been a while long while since I’ve written but I’m back! How’s 2015 going for you? Mine has started off with a bang. I’m starting my second week of Whole30. A friend of mine committed to share her meal plans, grocery lists and recipes for a month to those interested on Instagram. She is an amazing cook, mother, and a founding teacher at a local charter school. In other words, she’s got it together. The photos of the meals she prepares make me want to quit my job and go to culinary school. Seriously. So I did my research on Whole30 and decided that I’d give it a go. The basic premise – 3 real food meals a day consisting of a protein, lots of veggies, fat, and occasionally a fruit for 30 days. Here’s the tough part – no sugar, grains, dairy and legumes for 30 days. It’s a reset. You cut out common causes of inflammation and hormone dis-regulation and see how you feel. More energy? Less digestive issues? Um, sign me up! Anything to kick this IBS to the curb. So I committed. To 30 days. Here’s how week one went.

Refrigerator Clean Out

Refrigerator Clean Out

DAY 1

Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash with fried egg

Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash with fried egg

Lemon and rosemary grilled chicken over spinach with apple

Garbage stir-fry with curried cabbage (and carrots)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash with fried egg
Tips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Dice peeled sweet potatoes, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 20 minutes. Next, line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper then bake a weeks worth of Whole30 qualified bacon (look for no sugar or additives) at 400 degrees F for 13-16 minutes depending on desired crispness. I love my bacon crispy but I removed it from the oven when it was less crispy so that I could throw it in the pan later to keep cooking and to flavor the hash. Add sweet potato, apples, onion and bacon to skillet and cook until warm and apples soft. Dish up then fry an egg in the same skillet.

Lunch: Lemon and rosemary grilled chicken over spinach with apple
Tips: Prep enough chicken for leftovers the next night.

Dinner: Garbage stir-fry with curried cabbage (and carrots)
Tips: Don’t have any curry powder on hand? Not a problem. Try 1 tsp cumin + 1/2 tsp coriander + 1/2 tsp chili powder + 1/2 tsp turmeric with the onions to flavor the beef. I omitted turmeric because I was out and added carrots.

 

DAY 2

Day 2 Meals

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Berries with nuts and a hard-boiled egg
Lunch: Spinach and sweet peppers with mexi seasoned ground beef, 1/2 guacamole, and apple
Dinner: Broccoli with leftover rosemary and lemon grilled chicken, 1/2 guacamole, and clementine
Tips: I made everything the day before so it was divided up and ready for my lunch bag. Speaking of the lunch bag, its one of my favorite presents I received this Christmas. Much needed. I used the last one for six years. Also, Alton Brown’s recipe for guac is my absolute favorite! I made enough for a couple of days, divided it into air sealed containers and squeezed lime juice on top. Three days later it was still green 🙂

Day 2 thoughts: Holy moly, what a headache! I downed as much water as I could. I got hungry between meals. Need to add a snack for my next shift. Stared at the dark chocolate squares in the office but I resisted. Small win.

 

DAY 3

Breakfast: Bacon, scrambled eggs, spinach and melon

Bacon, scrambled eggs, spinach and melon

Lunch: Leftover garbage stir-fry Snack: Mini sweet peppers with guac

Leftover garbage stir-fry
Snack: Mini sweet peppers with guac

Dinner: Pan roasted lemon chicken, roasted asparagus with broccoli and strawberries

Pan roasted lemon chicken, roasted asparagus with broccoli and strawberries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Bacon, scrambled eggs, spinach and melon
Lunch: Leftover garbage stir-fry
Snack: Mini sweet peppers with leftover guac
Dinner: Pan roasted lemon chicken, roasted asparagus with broccoli and strawberries

Day 3 thoughts: Bigger portions and more calories. Whole30 encourages you to go by how your body feels and avoid tracking calories/nutrients. I felt so crummy the previous day with a headache and blurry vision that I plugged in my calories, including cooking oils, to confirm my suspicion. Yep, my intake for each of the previous days was under 1000 calories/day. Not okay! Starving and shutting down my metabolism is NOT the goal here, rather the opposite. I read stories from some Whole30ers and found others struggled with this initially as well. The solution – eat more healthy food. While portion size should still be appreciated it makes sense that you can eat more nutrient dense lower calorie foods. So, I upped my portions and boy did I feel better. No more headaches or blurry vision! And the pan roasted lemon chicken – holy cow, it’s my favorite meal to date. I’ve previously preferred the chicken breast but after tasting these thighs there’s no going back! So tasty! Serious. Make it for dinner. Just make sure to cook enough for leftovers or you’ll be sad.

 

DAY 4

Breakfast: Pepper and leftover mexi seasoned ground beef omelet with berries

Pepper and leftover mexi seasoned ground beef omelet with berries

Lunch: Leftover Pan Roasted Lemon Chicken over wilted spinach with carrots and clementine

Leftover Pan Roasted Lemon Chicken over wilted spinach with carrots and clementine

Dinner: Spicy Italian Pasta and apple

Spicy Italian Pasta and apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Pepper and leftover mexi seasoned ground beef omelet with berries
Lunch: Leftover pan roasted lemon chicken over wilted spinach with carrots and clementine
Dinner: Spicy Italian Pasta  (chicken sausage, onions, asparagus, red bell pepper, tomatoes, zoodles = zucchini noodles) and apple
Tips: My omelet skills are not quite up to par but what I learned from making this breakfast is to add the chopped stuff to the egg while its cooking, instead of putting it in the middle. For lunch, I reheated the chicken in its yummy cooking then poured it over the spinach and waited a minute or two for the spinach and take on the yummy lemon chicken flavor. For dinner, after adding the chicken sausage to the skillet I added Italian sausage seasoning. And wow, talk about a punch! It was a little too spicy for my liking but the boyfriend LOVED it and asked me to save this recipe for later. To make the zoodles (instead of white sweet potato like the recipe calls for) I used this spiralizer. Maybe one day I’ll graduate to this bad boy.

Day 4 thoughts: This may be TMI but after a 10 day struggle with a kidney stone I finally passed it this morning, fifty minutes prior to a CT to evaluate for obstruction. Whew! I cannot express how my attitude improved when the pain was FINALLY gone. Day 4 was a great day!

 

DAY 5

Woke up to this.

Woke up to this

I woke up to the sound of my water heater refilling and walked downstairs to find 1-1.5″ of standing water from my front door to back door. I threw on my shoes, grabbed a hammer and ran outside to shut off the water. I did open the water heater closet but there were two levers and I wasn’t sure which one to turn off so I went big. What a mess. Sweet friends dropped what they were doing and came to my rescue, moving wet furniture and rugs with great speed. I may not know where everything is but that’s okay. I’m still in the process of having all of my main level floors removed. The loud fans and dehumidifiers have gone so I can now sleep in my house again. My favorite rug is likely ruined, the one design piece I cared about, but that’s small compared to what the damage could have been. It was cold the previous week here in Nashville, down to 5 degrees (I know you guys around the Great Lakes are laughing at my definition of cold right now), but I was prepared. I kept the faucets dripping, ran the heat, opened my cabinet doors increasing the heat circulating around above ground pipes. No luck. It still happened. It was 3pm when I got shaky and realized I hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink all day. Um, when your house floods you priorities change a little. I sat down on the stairs (the only dry and available seating) and ate some cantaloupe and a Larabar while I talked with the guy from SERVPRO. That’s when I first felt overwhelmed. What a mess. And it was only going to continue to be a huge inconvenience. I need to stop here and tell you about how awesome everyone who came to help was. I sent out an emergency plea for hands and shop-vacs via text and Facebook. One my friends responded to my text mid flight across the country with the name and number of an owner of SERVPRO, a family I used to go to church with. He sent a representative and crew right over. Such a blessing! When things settled I pulled out my planned breakfast and retreated to my bedroom to gather myself, pray and recharge. Then I downed three glasses of water. The only way I was able to continue with Whole30 was because I was on-call and had all my meals prepped in case I spent the next 24 hours at the hospital. And guess who wasn’t called in? This.girl.right.here. Thank you Jesus! I broke down and cried later that evening. I had to get out of my house. I warmed up my dinner and asked my boyfriend who spent the entire day over here helping out if we could just drive somewhere and eat in the car, away from the noise of the drying process. We ended up at the home of a dear friend and I asked if I could eat my dinner at her table. She and her family welcomed us with hugs at the door. We played games with the kiddos and just exhaled. My brain was shot. One of the managers called and needed to come check humidity levels so back home I rushed. I packed up the china cabinet and moved some other wet pieces that were missed and headed to another friends house to spend the night. What a day. Now, onto the meals (and pretty pictures).

Hard boiled egg with paprika, cantaloup, 1/2 avocado with sea salt

Hard boiled egg with paprika, cantaloupe, 1/2 avocado with sea salt

Leftover pan roasted lemon chicken with spinach, carrots and apple

Leftover pan roasted lemon chicken with spinach, carrots and apple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Hard boiled egg with paprika, cantaloupe, 1/2 avocado with sea salt and 1/2 Larabar
Lunch/Dinner: Leftover pan roasted lemon chicken with carrots, spinach and apple.

 

DAY 6

Spinach omelet with bacon and melon

Spinach omelet with bacon and melon

Salad bowl from Chipotle

Salad bowl from Chipotle

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: Spinach omelet with bacon and cantaloupe
Lunch: Salad bowl from Chipotle: Romain lettuce, carnitas, pico, guac
Tip: Generally, carnitas is the only meat that Chipotle that isn’t cooked with soybean oil (so I read). Be sure to ask your local one before you order while doing Whole30.
Dinner: Leftover Spicy Italian Pasta with clementine

Day 6 thoughts: Nap time! And somebody get me some freakin’ cheese biscuits! I was so exhausted today that when I returned home during the demo I took a 20 minute nap while they were jack-hammering downstairs! Not sure how much of the tiredness is from Whole30 versus the recent stressor but it got me. I actually called my friend whose program I was generally following to get some much-needed encouragement. Part of the reason I had taken on the challenge was to learn what comprises a healthy meal and how to become a better cook. Because of the floor demolition cooking had not been ideal. Sawdust was everywhere! I realized today how much I really enjoy cooking. I missed shutting out the world, turning on some music, and creating new things (new to me) in the kitchen. A good night’s sleep was definitely in order. Thanks again Josh and Emily for letting me crash at your house for two nights.

 

DAY 7

Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash with fried egg

Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash with fried egg

Pork tenderloin with sauteed squash and onions with clementine

Pork tenderloin with sautéed squash and onions with clementine

Pork tenderloin with apple compote and broccoili

Pork tenderloin with apple compote and broccoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakfast: (Repeat meal) Bacon, sweet potato, apple hash, with fried egg
Lunch: Pork tenderloin with sautéed squash and onions with clementine
Dinner: Pork tenderloin with apple compote and broccoli

Day 7 thoughts: Can it be? The end of week one! I had more energy today and a renewed desire to see this though and continue my journey to health. I asked the crew to come after I got home from church. I needed to renew my focus, to take it off of myself and my situation, to once again, fix my eyes on Jesus. The first hymn we sang was My Hope is Built on Nothing Less/On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, written by Edward Mote in 1834. One stanza became quite literal for me:
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

So how’s it going, really? Good. I learned how to cook three new things this week – chicken thighs, chicken sausage, and apple compote. The sugarless apple compote is one you’ll want to make leftovers of too. I did experience some GI issues on Day 7. The good news about this is that you know exactly what you’re putting into your body so you learn what “gives you issues”. If you have food allergies, Whole30 has an AIP version that eliminates eggs, nightshades, nuts and seeds. It’s specifically designed for those with an autoimmune disease but works for allergies too. Stay tuned for Week 2 meals, recipes and insights. And have a great week!

Note: Most of the meals mentioned above were planned by Brooke. For shopping lists, meal plans, and more food tips with tips follow her on Instagram (@allenwhole30). To see my meals and thoughts for each day be sure to follow me on Instagram.

Healthy Travel Snacks

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Healthy Travel Snacks

Summer.

Bring on the sunshine, lightening bugs, and vacation. If you’re hitting the road the summer take a look at 100 Days of Real Food’s Top 10 Travel Snacks for some healthy options for you and your family.

Stay well,

clean and curvy

Plot twist

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125 days

One hundred twenty-five days ago I was awakened by sharp neck pain, chills, headache and unable to turn or bend my neck more than a few degrees. It’s been 18 weeks since I’ve been consistently pain/stiffness free. Months of physical therapy later I am back to the low range of normal in neck mobility. I’ve worked on flexibility, posture, core strength and shoulder and back strength. I’ve learned that my neck stiffness and pain correlate with stress and poor posture. The toughest part of work involves my time in an ambulance – the most ergonomically void box ever. Understandably, it’s not about me in the ambulance. The next toughest part is looking down for long periods of time. I have made modifications within my work environment that make it tolerable. Thankfully, most days are pain-free now but I still occasionally struggle with twinges and stiffness in the lower right side of my neck. It’s more annoying than anything but improves with staying calm, stretching and self-mobilization of my cervical facet joints.

It’s also been 125 days since I’ve done anything remotely close to triathlon training. I’ve gone on walks and jogs here and there but nothing like before. There were many days of tears and I returned to unhealthy eating while embracing limited mobility, not just in my neck, on the couch. The result: weight gain, muscle loss, weakness and depression. These 18 weeks also served as a reminder, a painful one, of what life was like before I focused on being healthy. Boy, I would have much preferred a verbal reminder instead of a physical one. Apparently I needed the 2×4. But you know what? My story doesn’t stop here. This is my plot twist.

KeeperThrough the tears and frustration I prayed that God would let me see that He still cares about me. Richard and I joined a new community group in the fall and last week we studied the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32. A couple of years ago I went through a study by Tim Keller called Prodigal God. It was life changing for me and I encourage you to read the parable then listen to Tim’s sermons. Anyway, for several reasons I look at God as my father and at community group we were given minutes to ponder on and thank God. I thanked God for His keeping love that night. I believe that He has a hand in everything that happens in my life and that the purpose of my life is to glorify Him. Boy, do I fail time and after time and feel like a road block sometimes but His love redeems and keeps me. I don’t understand why he let’s things that I perceive as bad happen to me but I understand that His story is bigger than mine. His perspective is different and at each turn, good or bad, He is revealing himself to me and teaching me to trust Him. I know my neck issue pales in comparison to some of the sorrows you guys are currently walking through. It’s been my struggle though and I’ve been discouraged. In addition, my grandma, whom I love dearly, is my go-to for wisdom and who is just plain awesome, almost went to see Jesus. She spent time in an ICU during a winter storm that veered 120 miles off predicted course. Because of the storm her procedure had to be repeated when the correct device could be delivered to the hospital and she had the same ICU staff for ~ 60 hours straight. Working in an ICU I know that fatigue and stress can play a huge role in medical error. I prayed that God would protect her, knowing full well that she was ready if He wanted to call her home. Good news, with some living modifications she is recovering and doing well! It’s heart-wrenching knowing those you love are hurting and struggling. Then later in the week I had a stressful day of work when I wasn’t even there. How does that even happen? Tell me I’m not alone in that!?! As I was driving to meet some friends, completely caught up in life’s recent stressors, I played the song “How He Loves”, by John Mark McMillan, on repeat. Many of you may know the version performed by David Crowder Band.

“He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.”

“Afflictions eclipsed by glory” – I finally experienced and understood those words! Have any of you ever been so overwhelmed by His love when the world would tell you to doubt, to give up, when something tragic or completely frustrating happens? That was the moment I had in the car. A time of worship despite my circumstances, a time of thankfulness for His keeping love that I can’t be too good enough not to need or disappoint him too many times to lose. It was some good truth time. John Mark explains more about his song in the brief video, link below. It’s worth the five minutes. Trust me.

How He Loves: A Song Story

Now for what’s to come after the plot twist…

Triathlon training is far from practical at this point. Realistically, holding my neck in the position for a ride on my road bike may no longer be possible. It turns just far enough to be able to breathe while swimming freestyle. Which leaves me with two sports, running and swimming. The good news? I can run and swim. I can walk, talk, breathe and dance. Well that last ones debatable, but I can move! Some triathlons have relay events available. I don’t have to completely leave the sport but I will have to modify and completing a race may now be dependent on friends competing with me. (If any of you are interested in the future let me know!)

Over the next several months I will focus on becoming healthy again. It was a long road the first time and there’s something to be said for naivety. This time I know how hard it’s going to be. My pride wants to go outside right now and bust out a 5K in 20 degree weather but my body and mind aren’t there yet. Getting real – today I completed T25’s Cardio workout, fully modified, focusing on correct form and building muscle strength. So what is getting healthier going to look like? That’s what I plan to blog about over the next year. Week by week I plan to share lessons, thoughts, struggles, wins, workouts and recipes. And I’ll need your encouragement. If any of you are going through something similar maybe we can keep each other accountable. I’m not giving up. Remind me of that.

New goals:

– Exercising 3-4x per week. I’m working a mixture of 12h day and night shifts until March so working out before or after work will be a challenge.

– Eating clean 80% of the time. Shoot, even 50% at this point would be huge!

– Two 5K events. One on my 30th birthday and another two weeks later. I’d like to run both of them. We’ll see 🙂

Blessings,

Clean and Curvy

Happy 2014!

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Happy new year, friends!

A few years ago I adopted monthly goals instead of a yearly resolution. I find it much less daunting to think in terms of a few weeks and it allows for freedom to shift goals as life changes. My fit-focused goal for January is to drink an adequate amount of water each day. I pretty much walk around in a dehydrated state… not good. Water. It seems so basic yet it’s one of those things that is essential to life, to health. For a few fun hydration facts and study findings click here and here. Nurses are at particular risk for dehydration, as well as athletes. Add in my predisposition for kidney stones and I’m doomed! So I was completely thrilled when I opened a Christmas gift from my mom last month – a HydraCoach Intelligent Water Bottle. I know what you’re thinking – really, a water bottle makes you excited? Yep. It’s not just an ordinary water bottle. The Intelligent part means that it not only calculates how much water I need to drink but also keeps up with my intake and reminds me when I need to drink more!

HydraCoach Intelligent Water BottleSo, how much water do we need? The answer is not necessarily 8 glasses/day. Rather, it depends on a few things like weight, environmental temperature and moisture, age, gender and daily activity level. Here’s a good rule of thumb for a person of average daily activity level:

  1. Weigh yourself. It’s the beginning of a new year – always good to know where you start.
  2. Divide your weight in pounds by 2. This equals your daily water/liquid intake requirement in ounces.
  3. For every hour of exercise you’ll need to drink even more!

For a quick calculator go here. For my European and Aussie friends – the calculator can be adjusted to the metric system (which makes more sense and I wish we used it in the States).

Not everyone needs a “fancy” water bottle but the calculator is a great tool to help toward hydration. For those of you who are a tad absentminded like me, the HydraCoach water bottle might be a good investment.

Shifting to spiritual health…. My faith-focused goal for January is to be in the Word everyday. I am praying that the Lord will make me more disciplined in my walk with Him and increase my awe of Him. Today I spent time in the book of Hebrews. One of my favorite verses is one of hope and comes from Chapter 11, verse 13: All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

From this verse, and the context listed below, it is clear that “the ancients” (believers) who came before me were faithful. The lived their faith. It was not a one-time deal. They trusted God in the ins-and-outs of daily life. The lived expectantly. Just because they didn’t receive what God had promised during their earthly life didn’t mean that they weren’t good enough or that God didn’t honor his promises. They knew that God had been with them from the beginning, He was with them during the trials and times of rejoicing, and that they would see Him in the future. They had confidence and hope in God and believed through faith that His promises would come about. It wasn’t about their time schedule. It was about God’s. Something better was coming. Talk about perspective! Matthew Henry’s Commentary puts it this way, “Many, who have a part in the promises, do not soon receive the things promised. Faith can lay hold of blessings at a great distance; can make them present; can love them and rejoice in them, though strangers; as saints, whose home is heaven; as pilgrims, traveling toward their home. By faith, they overcome the terrors of death, and bid a cheerful farewell to this world, and to all the comforts and crosses of it. And those once truly and savingly called out of a sinful state, have no mind to return into it. All true believers desire the heavenly inheritance; and the stronger faith is, the more fervent those desires will be. Notwithstanding their meanness by nature, their vileness by sin, and the poverty of their outward condition, God is not ashamed to be called the God of all true believers; such is his mercy, such is his love to them. Let them never be ashamed of being called his people, nor of any of those who are truly so, how much soever despised in the world. Above all, let them take care that they are not a shame and reproach to their God…. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he expected as good things from them. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond theirs, so should our obedience of faith, patience of hope, and labour of love, be greater. And unless we get true faith as these believers had, they will rise up to condemn us at the last day. Let us then pray continually for the increase of our faith, that we may follow these bright examples, and be, with them, at length made perfect in holiness and happiness, and shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father for evermore.”

From the book of Hebrews, Chapter 11:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

From the book of Hebrews, Chapter 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Let’s approach this year with faith and confidence; not in ourselves but in our Heavenly Father and may it be a year of faith and health.

Blessings to you and your family in 2014,

Clean and Curvy

Happy New Year!

Blackberry Muffins

If you’re hosting the family for Thanksgiving this year consider these for a quick and easy breakfast. Whether you’re craving blueberry, orange cranberry, raspberry or blackberry, this recipe provides a tasty base for a healthier muffin. It includes real sugar as to not totally remove something familiar from your guests but feel free to substitute with 1c of honey. It’s inspired by my Grandma, Jean Fife, and is adapted from her Blueberry Muffin recipe. I’ll include both recipes for you. Makes 18 large or 24 smaller muffins.

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberry Muffins

  • 4 c whole-wheat flour
  • 2 c sugar (I used 1 c brown sugar and 1 c regular sugar)
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c fresh blackberries
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 16 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 c coconut oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins

  • 4 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 c sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Instructions (for both recipes):

  1. Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla then add to the dry ingredients, barely mixing.
  2. Add berries.
  3. Grease muffin tins then fill each cup ~ 2/3 full. Sprinkle an additional 1 T of sugar along the tops to make a good crust.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Eggplant Parmesan

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Eggplant Parmesan

I love Italian food. Seriously! But when I think of delicious Italian meals I picture wine, carbs and plump grandmothers passionate about their cooking. So I went looking for a healthy alternative to the classic Eggplant Parmigiana and found a yummy recipe from Eating Well. Fair warning, it’s a little involved. Active prep time is 45 minutes while the total time is 2.5 hours but it’s worth it. The good news is that this recipe makes 2 8×8 casseroles so if you have a small family you can freeze an unbaked one for up to three months.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggplants, cut into 12 slices each (about 1/4 inch thick)
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 c whole-wheat flour
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 1/2 c fine dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 3 T Italian seasoning, divided
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • Olive oil to coat the baking dishes
  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 c  shredded part-skin mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 4 T finely shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • Fresh basil for garnish (for you fancy folks)

> To make whole-wheat breadcrumbs place torn pieces of whole-wheat bread, sans crust, into a food processor and process until fine and crumbly. Dry by baking at 250 degrees F for 10 – 15 minutes. One slice of bread = 1/3 c dry breadcrumbs.

Instructions:

  1. Line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels. Place eggplant slices in a single layer then sprinkle with 3/4 t of salt. Top with another two layers of paper towels and eggplant with remaining salt. Cover with another two layers of paper towels. Keep covered at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Adjust over racks to highest and lowest positions and place empty large baking sheets on each rack and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Dab excess water from eggplant slices after an hour.
  4. Place flour in the first shallow dish, egg whites in a second dish, and combine breadcrumbs and 2 T Italian seasoning in a third dish. Press each slice of eggplant into the flour, covering both sides, then sake off excess. Next dip the slices into the egg whites and then press into the breadcrumb mixture, again covering both sides.
  5. Take out heated baking sheets from the oven and coat each with 2 T of olive oil. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layers on the baking sheets, being careful not to let the edges touch. Spray a generous layer of olive oil (or cooking spray) on the tops then bake for 15 minutes. Remove and flip slices over then resume baking for another 15 minutes, until golden.
  6. In a medium bowl mix together crushed tomatoes and last T of Italian seasoning.
  7. Spray the 8×8 baking dishes with cooking spray. Fill the bottom of each dish with 1/2 c seasoned tomatoes and spread to coat. Next arrange a single layer of eggplant then cover with 1 c of seasoned tomatoes and top with 1/4 c mozzarella cheese. Place another layer of eggplant, 1 c seasoned tomatoes and 1/2 c mozzarella then top with 2 T Parmesan cheese.

    Mid-layering

  8. [If freezing let the unbaked dishes cool to room temp before freezing] Bake for 15 minutes, until cheese melts and the sauce bubbly. Garnish with basil for a fancy finish.

I served it with a spinach salad with red onion, pecans, orange slices and shaved Parmesan topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. And the calories saved from making this dish at home allow for a tasty glass of wine. Buon appetito!

Chopping an onion

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On my way home from work this morning I stopped at the grocery store to “shop the perimeter” and restock my fridge after returning home from vacation. While there I picked up a new chef’s knife. So of course when I got home I looked for videos of fun ways to improve my chopping skills and came across this gem from Jamie Oliver. He’s one of my favorite chefs. I mean really, how could you not love the British accent with his enthusiasm? I’ve appreciated his efforts in the US lately to decrease the amount of processed foods served in schools and teaching families how to prepare healthy, inexpensive meals using “real food”. Awesome, right? In another video he mentions that home cooks need three knives – a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated bread knife – and poked fun at the large knife blocks we all have in our kitchens that are full of smaller knives we never touch. Um, guilty! Check out the video – it blew my mind! Who knew there were multiple ways to chop an onion depending on your dish? Well, here’s to learning new skills for improved efficiency in the kitchen.

For more great how-to’s check out Jamie’s Home Cooking Skills and tune in to Food Tube this afternoon at 2:30 CST (8:30 GMT) for a cooking session on turkey! He’s so fun! And great to follow on Instagram!

Veggie and Quinoa Chili

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Veggie and Quinoa Chili

Veggie and Quinoa Chili

My absolute favorite go-to meal for cooler days is Veggie and Quinoa Chili. It’s great for a tailgate party, around a fire-pit and an easy frozen meal to deliver to a family who just had a baby. My boyfriend loves it too. We usually make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. And good news – it’s not only yummy it’s also healthy! It’s delicious fresh off the stove and like other chilies it’s amazing when reheated. It’s more on the mild side than spicy but packed with flavor. Feel free to substitute the canned items for fresh. You’re only 45 minutes away from the best meatless chili you’ve ever tasted. Let’s get cookin’!

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 2 lugs of olive oil (about 4 TBSP)
  • 3 medium-sized yellow summer squash, chopped, quartered
  • 2 medium-sized zucchini, chopped, quartered
  • ¾ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBSP chili powder*
  • 1 tsp ground cumin*
  • ½ tsp paprika*
  • ½ c water
  • 2/3 c dry quinoa (uncooked)
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1.5 c vegetable juice
  • (optional) cheese to top
  • (optional) plain Greek yogurt to top
  • (optional) Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chips
  • * [May substitute for low-sodium chili seasoning packet if you prefer]

Instructions:

  1. Position oven rack on top rung and preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Cut the bell peppers and chilies in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and membranes. Place the halves, skin side up, on the foil-lined baking sheet, and flatten with your hand. Broil 10 minutes (or until blackened). When you remove from the oven cover the baking sheet with another piece of foil and seal edges together. Let stand 10-15 minutes. Peel and chop coarsely.
  3. In a small saucepan, heat a small lug of olive oil over medium heat and sauté quinoa for two minutes, just until the grains turn golden. Remove from heat.
  4. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a good lug of olive oil and swirl to coat. Add squash, zucchini, onion and garlic and sauté for 4 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin and paprika [or substitute for chili seasoning packet] and sauté for 30 seconds. Add roasted peppers and poblano, ½ c water, quinoa, salt, tomatoes, beans and vegetable juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for at 20-25 minutes.
  5. Serve with a dab of Greek yogurt, cheese if desired, and multigrain tortilla chips. Enjoy!

– Inspired by Cooking’s Light’s Quinoa and Roasted Red Pepper Chili

Pumpkin Loaf

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It’s October which means bring on the pumpkin! Check out this delicious recipe adapted from Whole-Wheat Pumpkin Bread by 100 Days of Real Food. I added pecans to the batter and sprinkled pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, on top before baking. I’m planning on baking another loaf and serving it for breakfast when my family comes for a visit later this week. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Loaf

A yummy way to incorporate Fall into your cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c whole-wheat flour
  • 1 ½ t cinnamon
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • ½ t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t cloves
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ¼ t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c coconut oil
  • ½ c honey
  • ½ t vanilla
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • ½ c pecans
  • 1 T pepitas

Instructions:

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.     Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, baking powder and salt) in a large mixing bowl.
3.     Make a hole in the center of the mix and add the eggs, oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir together with a fork. Be careful not to over mix.
4.     Fold in the pumpkin puree and pecans.
5.     Grease a regular sized loaf pan then pour in the batter.
6.     Sprinkle pepitas over the top of the batter.
7.     Bake 40-45 minutes. Use the toothpick test to assess doneness.

Coconut Oil

Cooking with coconut oil is relatively new to me so if its new to you I’ll share some tips I’ve found to be helpful. When buying coconut oil look for organic and unrefined/virgin (second best is expeller pressed which was available at my local Publix). It comes in solid form, white in color. I don’t know why that surprised me but when I went looking for oil I thought it would be liquid. It can be substituted for vegetable oil or butter in a 1:1 ratio and works great in baking. If a recipe calls for oil, liquify the measured amount by heating over low heat and allow to cool slightly before adding to your recipe. In solid form you can use it to grease pans. It’s hard to pull away from the convenience of cooking spray but I’m slowly working it into a habit. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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