National Nutrition Month: Super Easy Mexican Chicken

This is a throw and go crock pot recipe. If you don’t have a crock pot GO GET ONE (really, it’s like a $20 investment).

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained (I use organic, but that’s a personal call for you)

3/4 cup low sodium salsa (you can make it fresh, but that would take more than 10 minutes)

onion powder

Ms. Dash seasoning of choice

1 pablano pepper (seeded and chopped)

Handful of cilantro (I chop mine roughly)

6 corn tortillas, sliced or chopped or just torn up

black pepper

1 can low-sodium non-GMO corn kernels (or you can strip them off the cob in like 2 minutes or less)

DIRECTIONS:

Cut chicken into chunks…throw EVERYTHING in the crock pot (no water please). Turn on high and go workout for a while :)

If you’re going to be gone ALL DAY, turn to 300 degrees and let it cook SLOW.

BOOM!

That’s it. Easy as can be and the family LOVED it. Leftovers keep great (always a plus for working moms). I serve with side salad just because it makes me feel good about myself :)

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Motivation Monday: How the Pros Do Meal Prep

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By now we have all heard how important it is to prep foods ahead of time right? In our fast-paced lives it can be hard to find the time to cook meal by meal and that leaves us with seemingly no alternative to fast foods. Being armed and ready with delicious meals is one of the secrets bikini competitors and fitness models have that keeps them in tip-top shape year round. I know you’re thinking you “don’t have the time”,  but in reality you have the same 24 hours we all have. And if I can run 2 businesses, home school my daughter, do humanitarian work, keep up blogs and writing assignments, then I promise that YOU can prep a few meals :) It’s all in the small details…….

 

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My personal meal prep day is Sunday afternoon around 2-3. In order to make meal prep easy on yourself I recommend a couple of things:

  1. A rice cooker. You can steam veggies and cook brown rice, white rice, quinoa and even oats for the week! It’s a super time saver in that it’s a “throw-and-go” gadget where you set the time and move on to other things.
  2. A crock pot. This is handy for the same reason as above. I can make soup, chili, beans, or just about anything else in a large crock pot.
  3. A Vitamix or other blender. I’m a Vitamix convert, but if you don’t want to drop the cash, simply blend and strain….it takes more time, but it’s your money.

 

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My Sunday meal prep usually follows the same simple guidelines every week. Yesterday, I was making my rice, quinoa and soups and veggies for the week, so it went a little something like this:

  1. Place quinoa in rice cooker on “white rice” setting.
  2. Wash and chop veg for the GGS (for recipe, please see Kimberly Snyder’s blog).
  3. Run the GGS through the Vitamix and store in container. I make about 3 days worth at a time.
  4. While GGS is running through, place deer sausage, chicken and veg in crock pot with chicken stock and turn on high heat.
  5. Place sweet potatoes in oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  6. Once quinoa is finished, cook jasmine rice.
  7. Steam broccoli and squash once rice is done.
  8. While veg is steaming, cook fish for fish tacos (dinner last night with enough for leftovers).
  9. During cooking time I usually spend any extra moments washing and chopping fruits and veg. I place clean produce at eye level in the fridge.

 

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The entire process of meal prep takes me about an hour to an hour and a half. This includes making dinner for that evening as well. There are times when it may take longer as when I am making breads or muffins for the week. There are a few basic rules to follow about meal prep:

  1. Keep your prep area clean.
  2. Clean up as you go to avoid meal prep sanitation backlash, otherwise known as “I will never do this again because it creates too many dishes!”
  3. Make sure you have good quality, and plentiful, containers.
  4. Cooked chicken can remain in fridge for 3 days max, beyond that please freeze.
  5. Soups and juices freeze well in glass containers.
  6. Have a plan before you get started.
  7. Music makes it so much more fun!

 

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So, it really is that simple. As a matter of fact, I usually tackle laundry in between main courses. The deal is that if you have food ready to go then you will be less likely to eat food that does not have the same healthy benefits. If you’re going to tell me you don’t like leftovers, I will simply retaliate with the observation that you must love your spare tire then…..meal prep is one of the key components to a rockin body that looks as though you invest time and effort into your health. Suck it up and do it.

I say that in love, ;)
Michelle

Fit Diet, Fit Body, Fit Skin

There is a recipe for everything! Although I hardly ever follow recipes, I do believe the recipe for fitness success lies within the walls of your very own kitchen. Whether you shimmy into an alley style kitchen or dance around a large kitchen with an island (my dream kitchen!), you can find everything you need to win the war on weight loss, increase your energy levels and reveal tight, youthful skin with a radiant glow. All it takes is a plan….

Step 1: REAL FOOD!

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Your first mission is to look around your kitchen and identify all sources of real food. This basically means it should have a mother or grow in the ground and Chester Cheeto is father to nobody! Throw out processed foods such as crackers (yes, even those fancy gluten-free ones you got suckered into buying), chips, breads, candy (really?? What is that doing in there?!?), sugar, flour, cereal and cereal bars, protein bars, etc. Don’t freak out on me now! You’ll be without these beloved processed foods for about 3 weeks, then you can slowly start to inch them back into your diet. Well, except sugar…we don’t need that. Replace these foods with oats, rice (brown, black, wild, basmati), quinoa, and so on. You can use sliced cucumber in place of crackers. Don’t scoff! Try it with tuna, it’s quite good plus you get extra hydration. After a FULL 21 days eating whole foods, you’ll notice a difference in your energy level AND on the dreaded scale.

Step 2: SHOPPING!

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Make a list. This will save you time, money and headaches. On the left side of the paper write the meals you are planning for the week. On the right side, write the corresponding ingredients needed. This is the simplest form of prepared list making. Search your pantry and fridge for signs that you need some staples and make sure to write those on the list as well. Remember that the cheaper the produce, the more in-season it will be. Try not to bog yourself down with fancy recipes. My goal is usually to try out 1 new recipe a week and vary dinners throughout what I know everybody like and what the season calls for. Lunches here are typically tuna or salmon and lots of salads or soups.

Step 3: PREPARE YOURSELF!

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The second step is bringing these whole foods mentioned above and prepping them for consumption. Let’s face it, if it’s not ready to go, we won’t reach for it! Upon returning from the market, set aside about 30 minutes to wash your produce and chop what needs chopping. Typically, I’ll wash apples, pears cucumbers, carrots, celery and all when I return. Cucumber and celery are then chopped and placed into containers at EYE LEVEL in the fridge. I’ll also wash berries and place them in bowls at eye level in the fridge. The clean apples and other fruits go into produce bowls directly beside the sink. I also have a bowl for onions, garlic and potatoes as well. My grocery days are usually on the weekend, so I carve a little extra time to prep what needs to be prepped. If chicken is on the menu, I pound it tender and throw it into a bowl, covering it with milk. This ensures the chicken will not dry out as it cooks. The chicken can stay like this, covered in the fridge, for up to 24 hours prior to cooking. If we’re having beans and rice (a staple in this household!), I’ll soak the beans and make a couple batches of rice in the rice cooker. Meal prep does not need to eat up the majority of your day and you should be able to get most prep work finished within an hour at most. Don’t be disheartened if it takes you a little longer on your first couple of tries…practice will make for greater efficiency!

Step 4: MAKE SOME SPACE!

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This is in regards to your workout. Since food plays the largest role in how we look and feel, I think it is important to make sure our workouts help in this process without overwhelming us. Make sure you have proper space for your workouts. Some people rather enjoy a gym setting and if you’re going to pay for a gym membership, by all means please use it! Just don’t get stuck on the treadmill. Branch out a bit. Try the free weights or maybe even check out a class. If home workouts work best for you, consider clearing some space in your garage or basement. This is why I like yoga so much, you can literally do it anywhere with a small amount of space and a mat (or towel!). When I was in Moldova, I worked out in the bathroom :) Just make sure that your space is special to you. Make sure that it is safe and you won’t bang your knuckles on the ceiling fan should you be jumping!

These 4 steps will get you started on a lifestyle that reaps BIG results. You’ll notice that your nerves will calm as your food is already prepared for the week. You’ll find that happy space for your workouts and be able to release more stress. Remember that this lifestyle isn’t about waiting for everything to be perfect, it’s about making it work for you.

Have a healthy day!

Michelle

FOOD PREP

One of the MOST important tools in your nutrition tool box is food prep. It’s taking a little time to accomplish a lot for your health and fitness goals. So, I took some pics during my food prep the other day and thought I’d give you a quick rundown on what goes down :) in my kitchen.

After grocery trips, I usually try to lay the produce on the counter. If I can’t get to it that day, then I make sure I have time within 24 hours. The deal is, we used to waste money on produce that would go bad. After I started setting aside time to prep my food, viola’! Money saved. Simple steps for your produce:

  • Wash everything (except strawberries). I wash fruits and veg separate, but I dump them ALL in and give them a good wash.
  • Portion what needs be portioned. Grapes should be 1/2 cup and fit well into snack bags. I chop my veggies (you can have 2 cups at a time of those) and place them in plastic containers.

 

 

 

During the veg prep, I cook whatever meals I can cook. Be a little careful with this step as I have been known to cook way too many meals at once and then we can’t eat them all! General rule of thumb: a family of 4 can go through 3 meals per week, plus snacks and lunches.

 

 

Portion out what needs to be portioned, especially if you’re taking it on the go. There is nothing that will kill your nutritional endeavors faster than unpreparedness! Baggies and small, reusable containers are your best friends when it comes to grab and go nutrition. Buy things in bulk, such as nuts and rice cakes, whole grain crackers, etc. and make sure you portion them out once you get home. Eating directly from the bag is always a bad idea.

Keep in mind that you will have to give up some time as you first start food prep. It’s like any skill though, it can be learned. Get the whole family involved! Mom, that means you’ll have to give up your pursuit of perfectly chopped and sliced veggies and let the kids help. It’s better for all of you in the end :) Once I got the hang of food prep, it takes me less than 1 hour to get things ready for the ENTIRE WEEK! Hello? That’s the excuse everybody gives, so I’m calling you out. The easiest way to start is to plan a minimum of 3 days worth of meals and snacks. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can bump it up to 5, then all the way to 6 or 7 without any fuss at all. You’ll find that this will help you stay on track and promote overall better eating habits in your family. Be prepared, and there’s no way you can fail :)

Here’s to living the FIT life!

Michelle