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This past spring my little town was deluged by a spring thunderstorm that brought a historic rain fall to our community. 11 inches of rain fell within a few short hours. Flash flooding occurred. The storm drains on the street in front of our home could not keep up and the rush of water down our driveway brought several inches of water into our basement.
We decided to turn a stressful situation into something positive by giving away our pool table and turn that space into a home gym. The result is a 10’x15’ home workout space:
Here are a few items that can get you started even if you don’t have a dedicated space to carve out.
Each picture has hyperlinks to take you directly to the Amazon affiliate links (no cost to you, but should you choose to purchase via the link I receive a small credit).
These Powerblock weights start at 3 pounds and increase in 3 pound increments to 24 pounds. They come in a set of two are are currently priced at Amazon (link above) about $30 cheaper than when I ordered them! They take up SO little space.
Foam rollers are like having an in-house massage therapist for your fascia. Want a quick how-to on foam rolling? Check out this video by Girls Gone Strong. Here are two links to the 2 rollers I keep on hand. You only need one and if you are only going to buy one I’d recommend the Grid (click here). It’s hollow (yet incredibly strong) and is fantastic for taking on the road. When I was a Flight Attendant I used to take it in my suitcase and stuff it with clothes. The black one pictured above can be found by clicking here.
Even if you can’t do pull ups - this bar allows you to train the pulling pattern from overhead. Add a few super-bands and you can do a variety of exercises. I am a Girls Gone Strong (GGS) Certified Pre/Post Natal coach. I’ve linked to a few exercises. Click on each of these individual exercises to be taken to a short tutorial by GGS for assisted pull-ups, banded pulldowns, and band assisted pushups.
These little guys are an awesome tool for helping you gain incremental strength. At 1.25 pounds each, you can add increments of 1.25 or 2.5 pounds to your weights. I add these to my stackable weights as well as my kettle bells.
I work with busy women who are juggling work and home. Often that means blurring the lines between their professional lives and their home lives: Kids, housekeeping, meal planning & prepping, laundry, carpooling, sporting/school events, guests, etc. Add in the need to schedule gym time and somewhere along the way their own exercise gets lost in the shuffle. Carving out a small space in your home to add a few key pieces of equipment can open up a world of possibilities. Think outside the box. Limited on space? Store things under your bed or in a toy box. Perhaps you have a little closet space to store a few things and you workout in your bedroom, living room, dining room, or even kitchen.
If you have some extra space stay tuned - I’ll be posting another article with a few more items that have helped me create a space I LOVE being in. Stay tuned!
It’s our own local meal kit service with a twist. Their full priced kit (2 dinners with 4 entrees each) is just $32 AND they have a vegetarian option! The twist? You pick up your kit so the costs remain low. Checkout their website for ordering details and the locations around Howard County.
They offer discounted kits to those in need:
To qualify for a subsidized price you or anyone living in your household has to have participated in one or more of the programs listed below in the past 12 months. The Roving Radish is dedicated to making farm fresh and affordable meal kits available to our entire community!
List of Eligible Programs
- Food Stamps/Food Supplement Program (FSP) or SNAP
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)
- School breakfast or lunch program
- Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
My first pick up is tomorrow night! On the menu: turkey chili on delicata squash bowls and hungarian beef stew. Later this week I’ll update you with my experience!
Ever So Often You Stumble Upon THAT recipe ...Parents ... you know. THAT recipe that your kids eat with glee and not complaint. It's not often, but it DOES happen and when it turns out to be easy and healthy I'm over the moon happy! One of my friends that I met last year on my Precision Nutrition Coaching journey introduced me to this blog, chocolatecovderedkatie. I discovered this recipe on her blog and made a few modifications. I also doubled it because a single batch is gone in one day in my house.
Think banana bread meets muffins. That's what you have here, but with the added protein power from beans and awesome healthy carbs from oats. These muffins are gooey in the middle (even more so when warm), and just freaking delightful. These muffins are supposed to be fudgy (think undercooked), not fluffy and floury like traditional muffins. Not everyone will be a fan of the texture, but I consider these a winner namely because they have passed the KID TEST in my house! My kids have gone through 3 batches in 8 days! When I first shared these with my kids I didn't tell them about the beans. I just casually said they were peanut butter/banana/chocolate chip muffins. My youngest gleefully told my husband she knew what the "secret ingredient was." He held his breath and she said "peanut butter!" Secret safe!
Well, it was safe until I paused to take photos for this post. Then she saw the beans... and she said "Wait?! What are you making?" I said "the muffins?!" ... cue the HUGE pause. As she processed this I held my breath just a wee bit ... and then quickly began to recite the awesomeness of beans (added awesome protein & fiber --- what EVERY 12 year old wants to know). To my delight she did not protest.
Just the other day my 14 year old offered these to two of his friends. He told them about the secret ingredient (the real secret ingredient) ... and they were game to try them anyway. 1/2 way through their first muffin they both declared them some of the most delicious muffins they've ever had. WIN!
Flourless Banana Chocolate Chip Blender Muffins
1 cup oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 ripe to over-ripe bananas
2 cans white beans rinsed well (and drained) or 250g cooked beans
I use great northern beans or cannelloni beans
1/2 cup peanut butter or nut butter of your choice
1/2 cup pure maple syrup or honey
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
optional ingredients to stir in: handful mini chocolate chips, crushed nuts of your choice, shredded coconut
Total Time: 20m Yield: 16 muffins
Below you see all the ingredients dumped into my blender (minus the chocolate chips which I stir in by hand).
Preheat the oven to 350 F and line the muffin cups. Drain the beans and rinse extremely well, then pat dry. This is important because it gets rid of any bean taste. Blend all ingredients until smooth in a blender or high-quality food processor. (If using a blender without a tamper, stop occasionally to stir ingredients with a spoon so they will blend evenly.) Pour into the muffin cups – don’t overfill or they will rise and then sink in the centers. Bake 20 minutes. They will look underdone – let sit 20 minutes and they will firm up.
Below you'll see I added mini-chocolate chips (really upping the kid fan factor here!) and on the right - the muffins (I used tall liners from Ikea so they look deceptively small).
Muffins last for 3-4 days refrigerated or 2-3 weeks frozen.
Again, this recipe was adapted by this original post, by the chocolatecovderedkatie blog.
If you try them - please post your thoughts in the comments section!
The Banana Chocolate Chip Flourless Blender Muffins I Stumbled Upon ... SO Glad I Did!
Inspired by my own Coach, Ekaterina Solovieva (she's an amazingly tough, brilliant woman born in Siberia, now living in Canada) who has inspired and guided me as my Precision Nutrition health coach this past year and a half and she just happens to be a hardcore obstacle racer) ... I signed up to do the Dirty Girl.
Saturday, May 14th 2016 marked the day I participated in my first Dirty Girl Mud Run with my pal Stephanie. I had lined up several clients, neighbors, and former co-workers to do it with me but alas, due to changes in plans and different start times (waves) I ended up doing the entire event with my pal Steph. That was fitting - as I first met her back in 2008 when we auditioned to be selected to train as Les Mills Body Pump Instructors (the beginning of my fitness journey).
I share this with you for a few reasons; the primary reason being if you are female, and you are reading this, and you reside in the B'more general vicinity (or are up to flying in because I've got a guest room!) - I'm going to want you to join me in the future! I'm thinking - a client TEAM DIRTY GIRL. It was truly so .... much....fun!
The course is friendly for all, with every single obstacle offering the option of a walk around without penalty. The fine folks at Original Strength would've been proud when Steph and I dropped to the ground to baby crawl - then leopard crawl - up a hill of mud. I was TOO afraid of losing my shoes if I tried to walk in the mud - so up we crawled. There were 15 obstacles (some were big, some were on fire (albeit a tiny, tiny fire), some were very bouncy, almost all were muddy - but all were totally doable). Due to a traveling conflict in 2017 I will miss the Dirty Girl this year, but I'm looking ahead to 2018. So, wanna join me in 2018? Are you up for being a Dirty Girl with me in 2018?
I finally got my chalkboard wall. Seriously. I started prepping this wall in my kitchen over a year ago.
A YEAR AGO.
When we had just moved into our home back in 2005 and my kiddos were one and three - I was totally overwhelmed with the move and hired a painter. I LOVE to paint. I've never hired a painter, but I realized my limits with two toddlers and a whole house to unpack. Sadly that painter reminded me of WHY I'd never hired a painter (horror stories abound), as he painted over wallpaper in our kitchen that he was supposed to remove first. Almost 2 years ago I got the bug (ummm ok, inspiration?) to paint a chalkboard wall in our kitchen, so I stripped the wall and there it sat. About 90% stripped. The remainder needed a heat gun to remove and well, a ladder, and time - and thus 18 months passed and there sat the ugly wall. Guests came and went - and there sat the ugly wall. Sounds kinda like the life of a busy mom who works, cleans, cooks, and runs the household!
Enter my amazing client, Erika, who LOVES to paint. She's my soul sister in her belief in the prep work (90% prep, 10% actual painting)! She offered to paint that wall for me and darn if that didn't inspire me to get my heat gun out, ladder, scraper - and finish that remaining 10%. I patched the holes - she primed and painted it over the course of a week while I was at work and here you go, my new sanity saver:
I've been playing around with it for a few weeks, and at this moment I'm trying out my kids chores on the left. The chores flip weekly so each Sunday we simply switch the initial above the chores they are responsible for.
So there is NO confusion, NO arguing (um, right - like that EVER happens!).
On the bottom right I'm trying out a list of my go-to entree inventory. Close up below:
I plan my dinners out weekly. On an ideal week I set aside a few minutes on Thursday to look at the upcoming week, see what I have on hand that needs to be used, balance my work and kids activities with my availability to cook - and the weekly meals are planned. If all goes as planned I am able to do my shopping Friday or Saturday, batch cook one or two things on Sunday and I've can start the week with a plan.
In my household my husband is a far more talented cook than I am; he really earns the title of Chef. I'm FAR from that, but that's a whole separate blog post. We divide up the dinner duties so that I am responsible for dinner M-F (when he is commuting 3 hours round trip to work), and he cooks Sat/Sun. He usually tries to make at least one of those dinners big enough to have leftovers for me to plan on for a weekday meal - BONUS.
You'll notice little notations (the letter U) beside some of the entrees. Those indicate our upstairs freezer, as opposed to our full size basement freezer. This helps me when I need to grab that entree - to know which freezer to look in. I could NEVER survive my cooking at home, and striving to serve my family nutritionally dense food, if I didn't have an extra freezer. It also falls into the category of sanity saver.
Just in case you're inspired to paint your own chalkboard wall here's a great website to reference. And by the way, guess where I got my chalkboard paint? ALDI! For 3.99 can. LOVE me my random Aldi finds! Now it's something they may never carry again (it was a special buy) so in case you're itching to get started and don't want to hit your local Home Depot, I'll link to some of my favorite tools that can be found on Amazon:
I've been using chalk I ordered on Amazon (simply because I didn't want to spend time running to/from the store - and there's the small issue of going into Target or Staples means I'll come out having found 67 other things I just HAD to have)...
These are seriously my most favorite brushes EVER!
Years ago meditation was suggested to me as a coping tool for anxiety.
My response:"Um NO. I don't have the time for that." My counselor just smiled and let me sit there with my resistance, my refusal to even contemplate TRYING meditation.
It would be several years before I was even willing to try. I started and stopped a bunch of times. I tried and never found any mediation "tools" that worked. I had a really big misconception about meditation.
I thought I had to do it perfectly. I thought if my mind wandered away from the meditation ... it meant I had failed.
A few years ago a client shared with me that he had been using this app to facilitate his guided meditations. Now this isn't some Birkenstock wearing, long haired crystal squeezing hippy. Insert disclaimer here: I have long hair, love my birkenstocks and have nothing against crystals; just using the above to paint a mental picture of what this guy isn't...
This guy owns a Porsche, and a Lexus, and a Mercedes, is in wealth management and wears custom made suits. He raved about the app he was using, Buddhify. He had such positive things to say about it that I purchased it that day. It's a flat $5 one time fee. This was over two years ago and I haven't tired of it yet.
It has the prettiest color wheel with a diverse assortment of meditations you can use in different circumstances. There is a wonderful variety of voices, and I love the variety of lengths, especially so many short 4-6 min meditations to fit anywhere into the day.
Here are just a few:
Going to sleep
Once you tap on the category you want to explore, you have options within each category. Each one tells you the length of the meditation.
The meditations vary in length, with most averaging from 4 to 7 minutes. Some are around 10-12 minutes, and a few even longer ones. This app truly has something for everyone.
I've even gotten my kids to use several of the going to sleep meditations. FADE is their favorite. It's come in very handy when we are traveling and in a hotel room.
Studies show "there’s evidence that it (meditation) may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and flare-ups in people who have had ulcerative colitis. It may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and may help people with insomnia."1
A few minutes a day, or even a few times a week, is worth experimenting with and seeing if you perceive any benefits. I've also used Headspace which requires a monthly subscription, and Smiling Mind (which is free). I always gravitate back to Buddhify. Buddhify guided meditations have so much compassion built into them they helped me overcome my feeling that I had to be a perfect (non-mind wandering) meditator.
I find I can approach parenting and stressful situations with far more calm than when I don't prioritize a few minutes of guided meditation. I encourage you to try it and see what you discover.
The fine folks at Precision Nutrition (PN) have an awesome little saying: "Unless you're lucky enough to live at a health spa or have your own personal chef: Eating well doesn't happen by accident. So, you have to make it happen with planning and prep."
What is meal planning? And how do you do meal planning?
At its' essence ... Meal planning is whatever way you organize yourself to cook a meal, whether that's breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is the plan you make before you shop. For some - it's the plan they make after they shop. Whatever works for YOU; neither is right, or wrong. At its very basic level meal planning takes effort, consciousness, intention. Meal planning doesn't really happen by accident, just like saving for retirement requires some forethought, some intention, some effort and eventually a destination, a goal amount. But I digress...
Some people plan a week in advance or a month in advance, freezing neatly-labeled packets of soup and stew. Others may wing it, shopping for that evening's meal at the grocery or farmers' market and picking up whatever looks good to them. Meal planning is a truly personal thing. What works for you may not work for me. The goal is to find a process that is both enjoyable and effective.
Perhaps you have no plan. That was definitely me in my younger days. I spent my 20's and my 30's as a Flight Attendant for a major airline. In those days my version of a meal plan was to buy a 6 pack of Thomas Blueberry bagels, toss them in my suitcase, and live off of those, and airplane food, for the course of 3-4 days. I never thought about planning a meal. I just went to the store occasionally, bought things, and would look in the fridge around meal time and feel lost. This was seriously me even just a mere 14 years ago as a new Mom.
There was even a pivotal "come to Jesus moment" my husband had with me around the hot dogs, veggie burgers and cereal for dinner that I came to rely on as a new Mom. These options were the extent of my go-to repertoire for meals. He grew up with family dinners around a family table. I did not. I truly did not know any different. But this is a story for another blog post...
Now ... Fast forward to 2016 and I've tried a lot of different ways to meal plan. Along the way I've learned to cook a whole lot more and I enjoy the process now, which helps! I've morphed into THAT person who has a white board on my fridge and uses it to sketch out my meals for the week based on my schedule. This may be you - and perhaps you too have evolved your own finely tuned system that's working for you. If so - smashing. Keep on keeping on and consider sharing any of your survival tips in the comments.
My Version of My Meal Sanity Saver for the Weekdays: Here I normally list the proteins I have on hand to make meals from, anything I need to use up (like the goat cheese), plus my meals listed for the weekdays (burgers, gumbo, pork chops, thighs). I normally list any produce I have on hand so I can think ahead to the veggie sides I'll prepare. I also LOVE to make large portions so we can eat leftovers several times throughout the week. My husband cooks on Sat/Sun, so that planning isn't on this board.
Or ... Perhaps you aren't one to have a white board with menus written out for every day of the week. Perhaps the old version of me resonates with you, or you fall somewhere in between. Consider for a moment where you currently fall on the spectrum of meal planning. One "split the distance approach" is to purchase the staples (e.g. Chicken, ground turkey, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, spinach, eggs) and throw them together into an easy, spur of the moment meal. The upside? No complicated recipe to follow. The downside? You may end up eating the same meals (e.g. scrambled eggs with spinach, greek yogurt with nuts, cottage cheese with fruit, turkey burgers, canned tuna over spinach) again and again, and get bored. If you are a planner (like me) this "not-knowing" may stress you out, but if that is the case you may already be leaning more towards my whiteboard approach, even if it means repeating some go-to meals/combos.
Consider what action you might take today to move a little bit further along towards planning your meals. Perhaps you can scour around for some recipes and put together a grocery list for non-staple items that you may need for those recipes. Maybe the first step is to simply start with tonight's dinner. ONE meal, because this mere concept stresses you out. Or perhaps you want to simply start by planning ONLY your dinners for the week, or your breakfasts. Think about your style ... Are you a planner? A non-planner? Or an in-betweener? If you need a template to start working with check out The Sisters Cafe for several downloadable and printable options. The basic template can be used to sketch out just one set of meals for the week (think breakfast, lunch OR dinner), along with a separate grocery list. Or you can go "all-in" and pick the template that has you plan all 3 meals; at the bottom is a spot to make your shopping list.
Remember, eating well doesn't just happen. It doesn't happen by "accident." What has your meal planning style been? And as my friends at PN also are fond of saying ... How's that working for ya?
5 Points Soup. I nicknamed this soup 5 Points because it reminds me of an intersection (5 Points) in Atlanta, GA close to where I grew up. It's a big intersection uniting 5 streets in a hip part of town. At its base, this soup is an intersection of ingredients that marry so many wholesome vegetables together. It's versatile, easy, and oh so delicious. I make the recipe in a HUGE stock pock (link to the stock pot under the picture). This soup is a template to which I can create a new soup, as I thaw each frozen container and turn it into something different, by adding a different protein. See the recipe below, and all of the varying protein ingredients which allow you to turn this into a soup, a gumbo, keep it vegetarian, or not; the possibilities are pretty much endless.
A 20 quart stockpot is perfect for this soup!
In the summer this soup is a bit more labor intensive for me. I'll add links in my notes to the steps I use to take advantage of the summer bounty from my garden and the farmer's market. In the winter I buy everything frozen and use a giant can of tomatoes from Costco as the base for this soup. This is the quickest, least time-consuming method. However, if you aren't afraid of a little more time involved I encourage you to TRY the summer fresh veggies option; the flavor is exceptional with fresh produce. In the winter or anytime of year when you need time shortcuts (like all the time, right?!) ... grabbed the frozen veggies and get started.
3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ribs celery, chopped
Sauté the above until hot, then add a water to 5" of the top of the pot (do NOT overfill with water or you'll run out of room; you can always add more). This is where I'm admittedly more type-B'ish (a RARE occurrence I assure you!)... I just add a bunch of water to the largest pot I can use (20 quarts is a BIG pot)! Again - only add water to within 5" of the top of the pot. Add:
1/2 t. salt & pepper each
2 T Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 1 hour. Then add:
12-15 Med-Large Fresh tomatoes. If you are local, there's a great little market called Frank's Produce in Columbia that sells a box of second tomatoes for $14. I used 1/2 of the box for this recipe, using these steps to skin & seed the tomatoes. It was quick and easy. Quick option: 28oz of canned diced tomatoes.
1 quart or 2 pints of fresh chicken stock, or quick option: 2 15oz cans chicken broth
Cook 45 mins. Then add:
3 ears of corn, shucked & kernels off each ear, or quick option: 1 bag of frozen corn
4-6 carrots, chopped or quick option: 1 bag of frozen carrots
1 small head of red or green cabbage, chopped
15-20 pods of okra, ends trimmed and sliced in 1/2" pieces, or quick option: 1 bag of frozen okra
Cook another 20 mins. Then add:
1 cup fresh green beans, chopped or quick option: 1 bag frozen green beans
1 cup fresh lima beans or quick option: 1 bag frozen lima beans
Cook an additional 20 mins, then turn off heat source and let it cool before packaging for freezing.
Approximately 20 quarts ready for freezing. Grab a container, thaw and add protein of choice for a quick dinner. For a variety of soup options, you can add kidney beans, sausage, shrimp, or chicken. TIP: I freeze without the protein, then create variety within my dinners by changing up which one I add. This allows me to serve this soup to my family 2-3 dinners a month without complaint.
Sealed and ready for the freezer. I use 16oz Ball jars. Perfect for the grab and go lunch. I love the jars and Ball brand screw top plastic lids. Just remove the lid and thaw/reheat in the microwave for an awesome lunch on the go.
Ball Pint Regular Mouth Jars and Lids BPA Free, 16 oz, Set of 12Ball Wide-Mouth Plastic Storage Caps, 8-Count
If you want to freeze smaller portions for lunches, another great option is the 8oz ball jars. The wide mouth because makes it much easier to eat soup straight from the jar. You can use the same wide mouth plastic lids for the 8oz and 16 oz jars.
Tip: You may want to put your protein of choice into the soup before freezing if you'll be using for a meal on the go.With this recipe you'll get to enjoy your summer garden or farmer's market treasures for a few months in the winter! ENJOY!
It took me 47 years to begin to realize that my chasing perfection wasn't a good thing. That the label, a perfectionist, isn't a GOOD thing. The funny thing is, I didn't even realize I was doing it. My own negative inner voice would whisper put-downs and I listened. I listened completely unaware that it wasn't healthy and that I could change it. I had a classic inner bully and over the years I had learned to listen to her:
You're not doing it right
You suck at this
Ugh look at your __________ (insert body part here)
Everyone else can do it, why can't you?
Look at her - she has it all together. Which leads to ...
I am not enough.
Why did I think I could do this?
I should just quit.
Lately I've had a few opportunities to observe these same voices in my own house, with my own daughter and some of her friends. I overhear comments like these:
I am so stupid.
I don't like the way my ______ looks. (I recently heard a 12-year-old say she didn't like her thighs)
I can't do this.
Wait, what? These are 12-year-old girls. These are the first whisperings of the trap of chasing perfection. Research shows girls are more susceptible to the trap of perfection, but boys can fall into it too.
Parenting, Perfection and Preteens/Teens
Being a parent is a difficult job and it gets even more challenging during these tween and teenage years. Our children are trying to figure out who they are, where they fit in and they want to spend more time with their friends than their parents. I hate this part, but I know it's part of the growing up process.
Parents have the incredible opportunity to model embracing imperfection. We need to empower our girls to learn to make mistakes with self-compassion. Try speaking openly and compassionately about your mistakes with your children. Help them understand no one, not even mom, dad or their friends - are perfect.
When mistakes are made we need to help our children LEARN from them. Success comes from standing on top of a pile of mistakes, rather than underneath it. We HAVE to make mistakes. It's how we learn, mature and grow.
How can we, as parents, model self compassion when we don't even recognize our own inner bully? That voice that says ... You are not _________ enough (insert happy, skinny, cute, smart, a good enough cook - and so on). The good news is you CAN change that voice. The first step is acknowledging it, then diminishing it. Try switching it to a more encouraging thought (not so easy at first, but boy does it get easier with practice).
THREE SIMPLE WAYS TO START YOURSELF:
In the Precision Nutrition Pro-Coach online program I use with my health coaching clients there is a rule: call out and notice any negative self talk. Keep your ears open for those whispering negative comments said aloud (often laughed off) or whispered quietly to yourself. If you are unsure if that voice in your head is trying to tear you down ... ask, "would I say this comment to my friend? or my daughter?" If the answer is no - flip the switch on that thought and call it out to yourself. The first steps to freedom:
Listening, noticing, and calling that bullying voice out.
Try the opposite. Try a self compassionate thought instead of a self-deprecating one.
If you've made a mistake - just notice that too. What can you learn from it?
Learn from those mistakes. Climb on top of them, one small step at a time until you are standing on top of those mistakes, rather than underneath them.