Homemade Shake & Bake

I am all about easy, quick dinners that everyone will eat. Before I got into clean eating, I would make Shake ‘n Bake chicken or pork chops here and there and it was a big hit each time. (I actually preferred the Oven Fry brand, but it’s the same junk in a box!) Now that school has started, I’m also looking for dinners that make leftovers that are good for school lunches.

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I decided to give a homemade version a try recently, and everyone loved it! I love that it made enough for at least 3 meals, too. You don’t have to mix up the coating every time you want to make “shake & bake” chicken or pork chops. It is still a convenience food, just much healthier! I have it in a quart-sized mason jar in the refrigerator. It makes delicious chicken nuggets also.

I looked at a few recipes and made some tweaks. You can find the original recipe I based mine off of here at The Black Peppercorn.

Homemade Shake & Bake

(adapted from The Black Peppercorn)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 TBSP salt
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Mix all ingredients. Store in mason jar or other container in the refrigerator.

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To make chicken or pork chops, moisten meat with water or egg. Coat in mixture. Cook at 400 degrees on a lightly oiled or foil-lined baking sheet for 20-30 minutes. To make chicken nuggets or chicken fingers, adjust cooking time accordingly. Enjoy!!

 

Clean Eating Snacks On-the-Go

Summer often means more road trips and outings. It’s fun, but all that fun can make it more difficult to eat healthy and stay on track with your health and fitness goals. I definitely loosen up my nutrition standards a lot over the summer! This year I’m hoping to do better…ice-cream, but not quite so much ice-cream. Chips, but not quite so many chips. There’s a fine line between allowing for indulgences that you enjoy and allowing for binges that make you feel like crap and mad at yourself too. Clean eating snacks on-the-go can help.

Clean eating snacks

I’ve found a little extra thought and preparation makes a big difference. If you start out with good intentions and do what you can you’re setting yourself up for success. Even if by the end of your vacation you’re inhaling pop-tarts on the car-ride home, at least you started out strong!

I put together a list of clean eating snack ideas for one of my groups and thought it would be useful to share here. It’s hard to find packaged snacks with a “clean” ingredient list, but with a little more prep you can have great snacks on-the-go.

My favorite go-to snack is Shakeology! It really is. When I’m leaving the house for a long ride I make a shake to take with me. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s loaded with nutrition, it’s filling, and since I drink it blended with a lot of ice, it cools me down, too. A nice bonus in the summertime. You can also shake up a scoop or a packet with water and drink it out and about. I’ll have an emergency stash with me wherever I go this summer. But there’s only so much Shakeology a girl can drink. Here are some more of my other favorites:

*Prepare some baggies with cut-up veggies and eat them on their own or dip in some hummus or guacamole. You can buy nice serving-sized containers of both.
*Homemade granola bars. Or energy bites. Or muffins. Take the time to make some healthy ones at home before you go and these are the perfect portable snack!
*Yogurt with berries & honey and/or granola. Make up some jars of berries and yogurt to take with you. These are best eaten when you’re not the driver…don’t ask me how I know 🙂
*Nuts and fruit are easy and portable. You can buy the 100 calorie packets or make your own. Seeds are a great option too. They’re my go-to healthy fat/protein to pair with fruit since we can’t have nuts. You don’t want to overdo it with the nuts or seeds, but pair it with an apple or banana and it’s perfect- filling and tasty.
*String cheese sticks and whole wheat/grain crackers (check the ingredient list on these) are a great option.
*Popcorn you’ve popped in an airpopper or in a pot with some healthy oil is a great snack. Shake some sea salt on it and bag it up, and you have a healthy salty snack. And the serving size is pretty big! I love this when I’m driving!
*Roasted chickpeas are a great healthy alternative. You can flavor them different ways- sweet or savory- and pack them up in little baggies.
*Celery with peanut butter or sunflower seed butter is a yummy and filling snack.
*Hardboiled eggs, so long as you peel them ahead of time, are a great way to get protein in as you snack.
*A whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter, cinnamon, and maybe some sliced banana is easy to make ahead and pack for the road. Or a good old peanut butter (or sunbutter) and jelly sandwich. Just watch the ingredients again!

Clean eating takes some extra thought and preparation, but is so worth it! Bring a little cooler or lunchbag with you for those snacks that need to be kept cool.

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We drive from New York to Florida and back every spring, so I know how important it is to be prepared! On the way down I manage to avoid fast food and junk food 100%. We pack sandwiches and snacks in a cooler. We also bring extra water to refill our reusable water bottles. I do bend a little with the kids and buy them some treats they wouldn’t normally get at home. If you’ve driven from NY to Florida with four children you’ll understand the importance of snacks.

The way home is a little harder, because it’s harder to prep away from home. We still manage to eat pretty well, though with some packaged options thrown in there. For example, SkinnyPop is a good packaged option to have in place of my popcorn. You can also find packaged granola with a not-so-bad ingredient list.

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This picture is from our drive down to Florida this past April. I took a picture and posted it in my Facebook challenge group, writing something like, “Is it crazy that I packed mason jars of kefir and berries to eat on the drive?” I think some of them answered, “Yes.” But I am obsessed with kefir and berries with granola! And they’re a healthy way to fill up on the road! Alright, maybe it was a little crazy…but I didn’t eat pop-tarts 🙂

Enjoy those road trips! And enjoy your treats- but do your best to save them for treats you really want to savor, not “treats” you’re forced into buying because you’re in a pinch and hungry.

Happy Summer!! If you liked this article, don’t forget to Pin it or Share it on Facebook using the buttons below 🙂

28-Day Plank Challenge

Have you seen challenges everywhere? Especially plank challenges and squat challenges? I have and I have never done one! I’ve been most intrigued by the plank challenge, but never actually went ahead and did it even though my belly is in need of the most attention. To put it nicely.

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A few weeks ago a friend mentioned doing a plank challenge and I thought it would be a fun thing to try for the first time on my Facebook page! What better way to honor my trouble spot? It will be a tribute to my core, the core I can get so cranky about. Maybe it will be just what my poor core needs….

So I’ve been looking around online at different challenges to get ideas, and I put together my own schedule. My very own 28-Day Plank Challenge. I decided to go with the basic forearm plank to keep it simple. There are a lot of plank options out there, and I think trying out different ones could be a fun way to try them out and focus on strengthening different areas of the core. For now, though, I want to focus on one exercise. I also went with 28 days instead of 30 or 31 because I’m a nerd and I like to finish up on a Sunday, not some crazy day like Tuesday.

We will start at 20 seconds. If you have not been doing planks regularly, or have never done one, this might be a long time. You can shorten the length of time and/or modify the plank by doing it on your knees. If you have been doing planks this might seem too easy. You can always modify if the times don’t seem right for you. We can adjust the schedule- add or subtract seconds here and there- so that it works for where you and your core are at 🙂

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We start Monday, May 30th!!! Each day I’ll post an accountability post on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/stayathomefit. All you have to do is comment on that post to let us know you did your plank. We’ll encourage each other through the 4 weeks, and hopefully share our progress!

How do you do a plank with proper form? You can watch a quick video from Fitness magazine here. Do pay attention to form- I don’t want anyone to get hurt! And of course if you have any back issues or injuries that put you at risk for injury modify or consult your doctor first!!

What are the benefits of doing a plank? It’s a wonderful way to strengthen your core, but also your upper and lower body. It can increase your flexibility, improve your posture, and have a positive effect on your mood! I’m excited about all of those things! I hope you’ll join us 🙂

 

 

Crockpot Lemon Pepper Chicken

Is anyone else going crazy lately? Isn’t end-of-the-year craziness supposed to happen closer to the actual end of the year? Or is it always like this and I’ve just forgotten? Because holy cow, I feel a little dizzy with all this end-of-the-year stuff!

Between baseball, ballet- ballet dress rehearsals- ballet recitals, spring concerts, field trips, field days, writer workshops, picnics, Daisies, Girl Scouts, and birthdays I feel a little overwhelmed. Add in a sprained ankle (not mine) and some spring sickness and the party really starts.

This is part of the reason why I was so excited for the clean eating crockpot group last week. What a great way to stay on top of healthy dinners! But that didn’t pan out like I expected. A key part of crockpot success is being here to turn it off and eat the food that’s in it. Last week my husband had late nights with his track team a few days, and we had a couple days where the kids and I were basically gone 3-8pm. I only got to make a couple dinners from the weekly meal plan. But I thought I’d share one I really love!

Crockpot Lemon Pepper Chicken

This recipe takes a little prep at the start, which takes away a bit from the beauty of a crockpot dinner. I think it’s worth it, though. The chicken actually had a nice semi-crusty coating when it was done.

 

Slow Cooker Lemon Pepper Chicken
(from blog.feelgreatin8.com)
Ingredients:
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
Preparation:
Prepare your chicken by rinsing it and trimming the fat. I cut each breast into 2 pieces to make them more like large tenders.
 In a shallow dish, combine the flour and 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Coat each piece of chicken in flour.
 Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Once melted, brown each side of the chicken. You want them to be golden brown, but not cooked through because you’ll be cooking them in the slow cooker.
 Spray the slow cooker (crockpot) with cooking spray and place the browned chicken into the bottom. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning on top of the chicken.
 Mix together the lemon juice and chicken broth. Pour over the chicken and seasoning.
 Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Enjoy!
I doubled the recipe to serve all of us (not that all of us ate it of course) and so we’d have leftovers for lunches. It came out great. I served it over a quinoa and wild rice blend and it was delicious. You can find the original recipe here at Tiffany’s blog.

Clean Eating Crockpot Challenge Group

I am so excited about the free cleaning group I’m running this week with some other amazing coaches! We have a private Facebook group where we share a meal plan, including recipes and a shopping list. We’ve also included alternate dinner options in case there’s something you don’t like, and vegetarian options.

Clean Eating Crockpot Challenge Group

Our focus this week is crockpot recipes, particularly crockpot recipes that are lighter and feel more like spring than the stews and roasts you might associate with the crockpot. And the group is huge! We have a lot of interested people. I can see why, too. I love my crockpot. I know it’s not glamorous or fancy, but it’s easy and practical and can make some delicious dinners! I plan on using it when we have baseball in the evening, or ballet dress rehearsals. Most of my crockpot recipes are heavier and feel more at home on a cold winter day, so I’m excited to try out some new ones. There are also a lot of recipes out there that are loaded with processed ingredients. Clean eating crockpot recipes can be harder to find.

I’m also really excited that so many people are going to learn more about clean eating. It’s changed my life, and I love when I see it changing other peoples’ lives too. These groups are great for support and accountability and I always learn something.

Did you miss out on the clean eating group? We will have another one soon…Send me a message and I’ll add you to the list and keep you posted 🙂

Have a great week!

Progress & Pictures

I just did something that makes me feel a little like a crazy person, like I’m a little unhinged from reality…I posted before and after pictures on my Stay at Home Fit Facebook page.

Before and Afters

This was hard for many reasons- I hate pictures of myself, always have. I just hate them- I’m not very photogenic, they make me more self-conscious, blah blah blah. All of this coaching stuff has gotten me to confront my discomfort for sure. Sweaty selfies are still painful, but I know they’re important. They hold me accountable. People who are supporting me (and maybe whom I’m motivating) might be motivated by actually seeing me going through the motions. So I get it and that’s why I do it, and I think- you know what? It’s probably really good for me too.

Half-naked pictures though in the dead of winter? Ugh. Takes it to a whole new level. But I felt like I owed it to some people to share my progress. There’s one person in particular who is in my head- she’s encouraged me, and her comments have inspired me too- inspired me to take better care of myself- eat better, workout harder, really commit to what I’m doing. I felt like I owed it to her to show her my physical progress. If I saw someone post on and off for 8 weeks about this great new program, when it was over I’d want some kind of conclusion I think. Like, “So? What happened?”

Well, this is what happened…

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I have mixed feelings to be honest. And it’s hard to share some of it- I feel vulnerable. I also want to be positive and have a good attitude, but part of me is just sick of my damn belly. Yes, I love my belly- it was home to 4 beautiful children, it’s mine, it’s healthy, I’m strong and all that. All that is true. And I think the last 3 years have been a turning point in my health and fitness because of a change of mindset- I went from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be strong and fit. I am also a thousand times more confident than I’ve ever been, at any time in my life. All that said, it kinda sucks when you work out consistently and eat really healthy and you still have a muffin top.

I have progressed- I am proud of my body and I feel comfortable in my own skin. I don’t dread getting dressed like I used to….I just have this trouble spot. The better part of me just wants to be patient and knows that if I keep doing what I’m doing I’ll continue to progress. I think part of the reason my middle is lagging behind the rest of me is that the belly is often the last part to go. I think it’s also because I never in my life worked my core. I have no muscle memory in there. Never having been fit or in shape means I have a lot more work to do. Also, it’s my body type. I’m an apple, if you like the whole fruit thing.

Your body is part of who you are, like it or not. For most of us, our physical selves affect our mental and emotional selves. Number one, it’s healthier to be fit, to lose weight (especially weight around our middle, like my pet), to exercise and eat healthy, of course. But feeling good about ourselves is important too. We don’t have to be skinny, or look like a supermodel, or aspire to some unrealistic airbrushed body type, but as my husband once said, “It’s hard to get out of bed when your pants don’t fit.” It’s nice to feel comfortable with your physical self, it’s nice to fit comfortably in your clothes.

Part of me was afraid to share because I feel like some people might be like, “she does all this work and looks like that? why bother?” I can’t worry about that. I can tell you I am proud of the glimmer of abs on the horizon. For the first time in my life I am seeing the beginnings of definition. I can also tell you that my body has transformed over the last 3 years- from the outside and the inside. My legs are strong and muscular, I have biceps, my upper body is strong and looks strong. I am healthier. I am no longer plagued by stomach trouble like i was almost my whole life, I feel a thousand times better, I have more energy. The most wonderful part is the mental and emotional part, though. That has meant the most to me.

Overall, I think before and after pictures are so helpful as part of your fitness journey. They are motivating and they are a better gauge of progress than the scale. That little bugger is temperamental, and we have all heard how muscle weighs more than fat and all that. I think taking “before” pictures before beginning a workout program really gets you in the right mindset, too. I know it sucks taking them. I know you feel ridiculous (and maybe like a crazy person) taking them. But I also know that they serve a useful purpose, and you might look back at them one day and feel a great sense of accomplishment.

So what next? I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I love my workouts and I love my clean eating. And after my next round of Hammer & Chisel I’m going to share some new pictures and we’ll see what happens. Either way, i’m going to focus on the positives and be kind to myself about all those things that bug me.

Meal Planning

Meal planning can be very simple, or it can be more involved. Some people plan every meal for the week. That might sound extreme, but if you’re looking to lose weight it can be very helpful. Some people just plan dinners for the week. Others plan a month of dinners at a time. Curl up on cozy afternoon with a cup of tea and leisurely write your plan for the week…or if you’re like me scramble to scratch one down while your 3-year-old climbs on you and you attempt to eat breakfast…

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The plans you make are subject to change of course! But having a plan in place helps get rid of that stress of what to make for dinner, it makes shopping easier, it can save you a lot of money, and it makes it more likely that you’ll make good choices for your meals. That’s really important if you’re looking to eat healthier and if you want to lose weight.

I remember saying to my mom one day, “I’ll cook anything! I don’t care…I’m just so sick of having to decide what to make for dinner.” Well, having a meal plan is kind of like having someone tell you what to make for dinner. The plan takes the thinking part out of it…and with all the things we have to think about, that’s kinda nice.

All you need to do is write down some meal ideas to get started. There are lots of organizers out there. But for now, if you haven’t been a meal planner, you can just list dinners you’ll make for the next week. I have templates I use, but you can also write it on your calendar, on a notepad, on a piece of paper taped to your cabinet or stuck on your refrigerator.

The websites orgnaizedhome.com and tipjunkie.com have some nice meal planning templates. You could also make your own. If you’re only looking to plan dinners, you could also just write them down and post the paper somewhere. My new calendar has a “dinner” space on each day. But do write it down and keep it visible! Sometimes just having it in sight as opposed to tucked in a drawer or not printed out is the difference between success and something-less-than-success.

Some weeks I make a meal plan on the computer and don’t print it out, and guess what happens…I don’t stick to the plan. So, however you plan, keep it where you can see it!

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Hold on to old meal plans and recipes. When you’ve collected enough plans you can just start rotating your meals, shaking it up every now and then with a new recipe.

When I started meal planning, I dug up an old binder for recipes I found online. It is not a very organized binder, and it’s not nice to look at, but it’s a binder. And it has my recipes (stuffed and crumbled) in it…when I sit down to plan I flip through it for ideas, or just look at old plans and pick and choose from them.

We have a lot of repeat recipes. For example, we usually have turkey chili every other week. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s healthy, it makes a lot of food, it’s easy to have the ingredients on hand, and it tastes good. It’s a standby. Cajun chicken, too. These kinds of things fit in to most plans.

I do try to make new things to try new foods and to add some variety. The first time I try a recipe I usually bring it up on my phone and follow it from there. Then if I really like it, I print it out and it eventually makes it way to the binder. These then get added to the list of meal ideas. I have learned the hard way not to try something new on a busy night.

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We have leftovers for lunch most days. It keeps us eating healthy meals and it saves my husband a lot of money and the trouble of buying lunch. I know some people snub leftovers, but I think they’re great!

So, I plan dinners with leftovers in mind. I often make a big dinner (that makes a good lunch) on Monday. It’s usually turkey chili, crockpot minestrone soup, or a big batch of Cajun chicken. We usually get two days’ worth of lunches from that. I’ll plan another big dinner mid-week.

It’s much easier to eat healthy and with proper portions in mind when you’re controlling the food. If you are used to buying lunch out, try bringing leftovers just a few days a week. Or you could bring lunch Monday-Thursday and buy on Friday.

I love the crockpot, too. I plan dinners for the crockpot based on afterschool activities. So, on a day I’ll have to be running around after school I try to plan something for the crockpot.

There are some nights we have a catch-all kind of dinner. My husband and I might have leftovers, the girls will have some pasta, the boys will have grilled cheese. (It kills me that sometimes these “easy” nights end up being more work than making a regular dinner, but they can be a nice break too.)

As for breakfast and snacks, I try to keep things simple. I have the same thing every day for breakfast and I love it. It also makes things simpler. If you get sick of eating the same thing every day, find a few breakfast ideas you like and change them up. Look for breakfasts you can make ahead and eat without much fuss or take with you.

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Keep healthy snacks stocked, too, and keep these easy. Fruit, cut up veggies, granola bars (healthy ones!), homemade muffins, little packs of almonds or other nuts, to-go packs of hummus, plain greek yogurt with some fruit.

Another way to make things go more smoothly is to squeeze in meal prep during the week. I try to do a big food prep session on Sundays (I make muffins for the kids’ lunches, bake a bunch of chicken, cut up vegetables, hard boil some eggs, make granola) to get ready for the week. But I’ll do little things during the week to help me stay on track.

For example, this morning I was out of my kefir & blueberries that I usually have in the refrigerator. So, when I portioned out my berries for today’s breakfast into the bowl, I set up mason jars with berries and kefir for the next 4 days. It only took a few minutes and I am ready with healthy breakfasts. When it’s time to eat them I’ll just add my granola. If I was running late this morning or in a rush, I would have skipped it, but I had the time and I’m glad I got it done.

So, in short, my tips are:

  • Sit down and make a plan.
  • Plan dinners first (or just dinners depending on your goals).
  • Make your shopping list.
  • Keep your plan visible. You’re more likely to stick to it!
  • Plan big dinners early in the week so you’ll have leftovers for healthy lunches.
  • Eat the same things for breakfast and snacks.
  • Do some food prep on Sundays and…
  • Squeeze in food prep during the week.

Meal planning and prepping seems like a lot of work, but the more you do it the easier it gets. Plus, it saves you time and stress during the week! If you get into the habit, and find a way to make it more enjoyable, the prep can even be a really nice part of your week. It sets you up for a healthier, smoother work week…

Turkey & Beef Meatloaf

I made meatloaf for the very first time tonight…and it was delicious! I have never really liked meatloaf and my husband loves it. I never made it and never felt I was missing anything, but I did feel a little guilty for never giving it a try. Well, I decided it was about time to give it a go- and figured there was a chance the kids would eat it too. They love meatballs! (I feel like chopped meat recipes are becoming a theme around here- chili, tacos, meatballs, sloppy joes, and now meatloaf!)

I wanted to find a clean eating meatloaf recipe, especially one that didn’t use ketchup. I hate ketchup, I have an aversion to ketchup, I don’t want to look at ketchup, smell ketchup, or touch ketchup. I only soften to it a little bit because I have a beautiful niece who loves the stuff and puts it on everything! Anyway, clean eating meatloaf, meatloaf with no ketchup. That’s what I looked for…

I looked around online, combined two recipes that I found, and will definitely make it again soon. Meatloaf isn’t pretty anyway, but after it’s been sliced it’s even less pretty. I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of it before we sliced it!

Turkey & Beef Meatloaf

Turkey/Beef Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 TBSP vinegar
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • water

Preparation:

In large bowl, combine meat, eggs, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce. Mix well. Use a loaf pan or form the mixture into a loaf shape in a baking pan. Make a small depression in the top of the loaf to form a well for the sauce. In a small bowl, mix remaining tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and a small amount of warm water. Pour over the top of the meatloaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

This recipe is a combination of Kim’s Ultimate Meatloaf, from allrecipes.com, and the Body Beast turkey meatloaf recipe. I’m sure you could use all turkey, all beef, or ground pork or lamb too.

My only qualm about my tweaked recipe is the brown sugar- it’s not clean. Next time I’ll try something else. But it was really good! I liked it, my husband was so happy to have meatloaf and said it was delicious, and all but one child ate it! I think I could get the fourth one to eat it next time though…That’s what I call a successful recipe!

Clean Up Your Coffee

I love coffee. I am not a psychotic coffee person, but I love it. People are very sensitive about their coffee, and there can be lots of coffee pride. You don’t want to mess with someone’s coffee. I understand…

Clean Up Your Coffee

I used to be one of those people who said, “I’m not giving up my coffee.” “I’ll do this, this, or that, but don’t tell me I can’t have my coffee.” Things along that line…and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say this! It’s kind of funny. But not funny- really…don’t get mad. I’m not telling anybody to give up coffee. I know there are people out there who will tell you to give up coffee, but I won’t. You hear mixed things about it, but a lot of good things are said about its health benefits. Either way, I drink 2 cups most days and I love it.

The way we drink our coffee is also a sensitive topic. And I was one of those people too who said I would never give up my creamer. I used to love the International Delights French Vanilla creamer, or the hazlenut, or if I was feeling crazy the Irish Coffee flavor. Mmmmm…I loved it. I’ve also told the story of my brother-in-law who said coffee with creamer was the reason he woke up in the morning. It was yummy stuff.

My logic for not giving it up was- what does it really matter? It’s not like I’m using that much of it. If I have a little bit of something not so healthy just in my coffee what’s the big deal? And I stuck by that for a pretty long time, indignantly drinking my coffee. But, eventually, when I started reading and learning more about what’s in our food, I took another look at the label. And I was pretty horrified.

NON-DAIRY PRODUCT INGREDIENTS: WATER, CANE SUGAR, PALM OIL, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: SODIUM CASEINATE* (A MILK DERIVATIVE), DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, POLYSORBATE 60, CARRAGEENAN, SALT.

Grossed out at the least. Water, sugar…and palm oil? Not to mention the other stuff I don’t recognize in the rest of the list? Ugh. And was the amount I was putting in my coffee each day really just a little? It was probably more than I thought.

I then thought, ok, maybe I need to give this up. I came across a make-your-own-creamer post on Pinterest, and did that for a while. Milk, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk. I felt a little bit better about that. All it is is milk and sugar. But pour enough cans of sweetened condensed milk and you’ll get a little grossed out about that, too. That little can must contain a lot of sugar!

My next step was half and half. No sugar! After a few days, I was used to it and even liked it. I drank half-and-half in my coffee for a while. And indignantly swore I would never give up my coffee with half-and-half. But, again, you hang around reading enough clean eating stuff and you get a nagging feeling that maybe the half-and-half has to go, too.

I did the 21 Day Fix, and it’s not allowed on that plan. At first I thought I’d do it anyway- how bad could it be when everything else I’m eating is so healthy? But I wanted to go by the book the first time, so I decided to let go…I tried switching to just milk in my coffee, but I didn’t like it. I would rather drink it black. (And I can drink black coffee- I do like it, but I just don’t enjoy it like I did with half-and-half.) That’s when I heard about coconut oil in coffee. At first I was very skeptical; how could that possible be any good? How could it get creamy and frothy? It didn’t seem possible from an oil.

It also seemed like a big pain in the butt. But I discovered my blender base fit on mason jars, and filled my mason jar with coffee and a teaspoon of coconut oil and gave it a whirl. It was true! It was creamy and frothy…one sip and I was in love. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top and it was like a coffee store latte. Delicious!

Coconut Oil Coffee

So…I’m not telling you what to do. But if you’re drinking flavored creamer just plant this little seed in the back of your head…it’s gross and it’s a sugar bomb. After I had given it up for a while, I tried it a friend’s house, thinking oh I’ll have it as a treat. Yuck. So sickly sweet, I couldn’t even drink it. (Coming from a girl who not so long ago could eat an entire container of vanilla frosting.) Maybe you could find another way…half and half plus stevia or raw sugar and some vanilla? Give it a few days, and I think you’ll get used to it and enjoy it. Maybe one day you’ll even try it with coconut oil…it’s so good, so creamy, frothy, and delightful.

Plus, think of all the health benefits you’ll be getting from the coconut oil!!

 

Clean Eating Turkey Chili

Chili is a staple around here. What started as beef chili with jarred chili sauce and little vegetables has evolved into turkey chili, no jarred sauce, just a little bit of sugar, and lots of vegetables. And now, just yesterday, it became turkey chili, no jarred sauce, no sugar, lots of vegetables, and a can of pumpkin. Pumpkin? Yes. Pumpkin. If I had stumbled across this recipe any other way, I would have jumped ship immediately, and moved on to the next turkey chili recipe. But I made it and it was really good!! Our new go-to recipe.

Clean Eating Turkey Chili

 

I love turkey chili because it is so healthy, so easy to make, tastes really good, and makes a ton. I usually make it on a Monday, so we have lots of leftovers for lunches during the week. Then if I make something on Tuesday or Wednesday that doesn’t leave us with leftovers, we have some extra lunches ready.

The only reason I went ahead with the crazy recipe with the pumpkin in it was because it’s part of the menu for a clean eating group I’m running with a friend this week. She added the recipe, and I figured I may as well be a good sport and give it a go. I’m so glad I did! And bonus- it’s made in the crockpot! And it’s 21 Day Fix friendly 🙂

21 Day Fix Chili

Serving size 1 1/2 cup Makes 6 servings

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped red pepper 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 giant can dark red kidney beans (40 ounces)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can puréed pumpkin 
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp chili powder 
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Preparation: Heat oil and brown meat on medium-high heat. Pour meat into crockkpot and add all ingredients. Cook on low for 4-6 hours; serve with shredded cheddar and plain Greek yogurt (optional). If you’re following the 21 Day Fix eating plan, each 1 1/2 cup serving would count as 1red, 1yellow, 1green, 1 blue (optional).

The recipe is flexible, too. Try different peppers, play around with spices.

Enjoy!!