Kicking off a New Season

Fall is on the horizon. We’ve had an unusually cool Summer this year and I can’t help feeling that if it’s going to feel like Autumn, it should smell like it too! I’m personally looking forward to school routines, apple picking, late season camping, football, crockpot dinners, leaves falling, and Halloween scheming! As a kid I dreaded the entire Fall season — can we just skip to Christmas already?! But more and more in my adulthood I soak up every detail of the season and each holiday brings with it more excitement, joy and memories shared! We’re not quite there yet, but we’re off to a good start with U6 Soccer for Lucas this week! 

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One step closer to pumpkin spice EVERYTHING. What are you looking forward to lately?

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Hello Monday

Oh, Monday. Sigh. How do I love you? Let me count the ways:

hello milestone — Literally. I hit a new running distance last weekend: 6.3 miles. Just three months to the day after my very first ever run (1.3 miles). Halfway to my first half marathon! What impressed me most is that I kept my mile pace at or under 11-minutes the entire six+ miles, a 2.5-minute improvement per mile since I started. Hoping to get in another run or two this week. It looks like my next race will definitely be a 10K.

hello results — I have been diligent about going to bootcamp training six days a week since before the holidays. A couple of weeks ago I set an aggressive body fat percentage goal to be reached within the first half of this year. I have since increased my weights, difficulty level and pushed myself to new limits. Well, hard work pays off!  Let’s just say, I’m going to have to adjust my goal very, very soon. More on that later.

hello energy — We finished the herbal cleanse portion of our second Advocare 24-day Challenge last week and started what is called the Max Phase. This is my favorite part. I feel fantastic! All thanks to proper nutrition absorption and balanced supplements. And maybe a little Spark (my other favorite part). I can’t wait to see our final results; 14 days down, 10 to go. And a future of continued clean eating and exercise, of course.

hello homecookin’ — Speaking of clean eating, here’s what’s on the lineup for this week:

MEATLESS MONDAY – Homemade falafel 

TUESDAY – Lemongrass Chicken

WEDNESDAY – Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili

THURSDAY – Bison Meatloaf with baked sweet potato wedges

FRIDAY – Thai Turkey Zucchini Meatballs

SATURDAY – Crockpot Salsa Chicken 

SUNDAY – Chicken-in-a-Pot

hello soccer — Lucas starts his second session of pre-soccer classes this week. It has been a long two months without something to burn that boy’s energy on the weekends. Saturday can’t come soon enough for all of us.

hello local — A new juice bar opened up downtown. I may or may not have squealed when I spotted it for the first time driving down Main Street. Once or twice a month, Brian and I take a coffee break during the week to catch a few quiet minutes together. Since we aren’t drinking coffee lately, we need a new spot for our date. Enter Juice & Java. Until now Jamba Juice was our nearest option for a fresh squeeze (not the same; not even close). Or our own kitchen, but I think it defeats the purpose of a date if I have to clean up the mess.

hello run club — The nice gals at my local lululemon athletica invited me to join their run club. It kicks off this Saturday with a 5-mile glow run followed by snacks, a DJ and some photo booth fun! With the exception of race days, I have always run alone … but I can’t wait to make some new friends with a shared love for running and exercise (and lululemon).

hello solo — Madison has a crazy busy schedule this week. Semester grades will be posted and she has been working hard to improve her organizational skills, time management, and study habits. She is anxious to see if her effort is reflected on her report card. We all are. She also has a competition coming up this weekend, thankfully it is local with everything else happening in sync. But the real excitement will happen on Wednesday when she will sing her first solo part in the Winter Concert. I will be hashtagging #proudmommymoment this week for sure.

Wow! Lot’s going on this week. I would love to hear what’s happening in your neck of the woods, leave a comment below with a link to your blog and I will definitely check it out!

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Meal Plan Monday

I am always looking for new clean recipes to put on my weekly meal plan, I added a few good ones this week. I hope they are as delicious as they look.

MONDAY – Warm Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad

TUESDAY – Crockpot Thai Peanut Chicken

WEDNESDAY – Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

THURSDAY – Hummus-Crusted Chicken

FRIDAY –Mexican Haystacks

SATURDAY –Slow-Roasted Salmon

SUNDAY – Blackened Chicken

I feel like I’m obsessed with finding healthy ways to treat my family.  The effort is entirely worth it to know that I’m teaching them healthy habits that will instill leading a healthy lifestyle long after they are out from under my wings. I’m not sure if we’ll ever eat out again, there is so much to offer at home and it really is simple. Well, at least not until the boys are more manageable in a restaurant setting. If you’ve been curious to know where I find my flavors, check out my Five on Friday post about my go-to recipe sites. Have a great week!

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Five on Friday // Favorite Recipe Sites

I am constantly asked where I find my recipes. When I don’t create them myself, which is often, I definitely have my go-to spots for finding new ideas in the kitchen. And I would be happy to share my secrets with you in this Five on Friday post.

 

I used to subscribe to endless food and recipe magazines, only to end up with a fifty-pound paperweight — literally. And then to never again be able to find that one recipe I made for Christmas two years ago that everyone died over and is asking me to make again. Um, sure … it’s in that special organizer for recipes that I tear out and put a smiley face next to. Or did I? Hmmm… It’s got to be here somewhere.

Then I got smart – ding! – and downloaded an app from the App Store called Yummy Soup. This is great. I can add all of my favorite recipes to this app and it will catalog them for me so that I can find them instantly, anytime. And it will create a recipe card, complete with photo and shopping list, that I can print whenever I need it. Wait. I can even download recipes from the internet? Score! Until you have to spend countless hours inputting recipes from half-ripped and food-stained magazine pages, or correcting the downloaded version (since all recipes are posted with precise measurements and absolutely no shorthand on the internet, duh) — Hey look! There’s that one recipe from Christmas…

Enter Pinterest. Now this is cool. I just have to pin a recipe that interests me to a board, and there it stays. I do use Pinterest to file recipes that I want to try, as well as tried & true family favorites. But I don’t typically go there to find new recipes (personally not a fan of the search function and favored results on Pinterest). Here are my five favorite online resources to finding new clean-eating recipes and food ideas:

1. Foodgawker — If I were to pick ONE go-to site, this is it! Foodgawker is always my first stop. Think of it as a card catalog of recipes from food blogs all over the web. You can search for any ingredient or type of diet (ie. paleo) and see a preview of recipes that match your criteria, then you can “favorite” ones that you want to try. Or pin to Pinterest if you prefer. And – bonus! – you can submit YOUR own recipes to their database and increase traffic to your blog. There’s even an iPhone app for it. I love Foodgawker!

2. Foodily — My newest addition, and I am loving it more & more. Very similar to Foodgawker, but includes recipes from your favorite magazines (minus the paperweight) and food celebrities. The recipe index is huge – over 2 million! You can also add your own recipes on Foodily. And there is an iPhone app as well. So why is Foodgawker still my #1? Two reasons, I actually think I get more interesting-to-me search results on Foodgawker (I don’t always want to see recipes from famous chefs or sponsored sites) and finding a recipe I love from a passionate blogger makes me feel like I’m supporting a “small business”. Don’t get me wrong, popular recipes are great (that’s why they are popular), but there’s always a blogger out there with that one and only great recipe that ROCKS! Still a great site for finding that dish you saw in Bon Appetit or on Pioneer Woman’s FoodTV show.

3. Thug Kitchen — You know that EXPLICIT label on album covers? Well, this site deserves one. Like it or not, you probably need to see it anyway.  My favorite food blog right now. An excellent resource for simple, clean recipes and jam-packed with nutritional information — with a side of reality check. And a good laugh.

4.The Gracious Pantry Goodness Gracious! I just love Tiffany. No, not the iconic little blue box (not gonna lie, I do love that little blue box). Tiffany is the clean-eating guru behind The Gracious Panty. All clean, all day. Great recipes, meal plans, tips and articles on clean-eating and other nutritional content. Her site is like clean-eating for dummies … only smothered in delicious.

5. Skinnytaste — You know the saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”? Well, skinny tastes pretty darn good! Especially when it’s just a healthier version of recipes that you already love, without skimping on any of the great flavor. At Skinnytaste, Gina shares the same healthy recipes that she makes for her family and friends, along with tips to living a healthy lifestyle. Not all healthy recipes are clean, but you can always omit or substitute an ingredient to your taste. And really, it’s all about moderation, right?

 

If I stumble upon a good looking recipe elsewhere, I won’t hesitate to give it a try. But this is where I go looking for something new & delicious to add to my Monday meal plan or bring to a party (I love bringing healthy recipes to a gathering; it always makes for great conversation and I get to plant the clean-eating bug — win!). I hope there’s something interesting to you in the bunch. Where do you shop for fresh flavors?

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