Weekdays are my busiest days of the week! Who else feels the same?! Once I get my oldest on the bus in the morning I’m rushing my youngest and I to the gym or a Pilates or Barre 3 class. I then rush home because I literally have 70 minutes to shower, get myself together and make us lunches before we are out the door to drop off my youngest at pre-k. I have NO TIME to make myself fancy lunches, but I do want to eat healthy and not the left overs of my son’s sandwich or mac and cheese (yes there was a time where I considered that my lunch).
Over the past year I have been experimenting with what I can make that is quick and healthy, but also TASTES good. If something doesn’t taste good then there is a good chance I wouldn’t make it again and I would fall back into eating unhealthy lunches. Therefore, I made it a goal to figure out how to maneuver through my day without sacrificing my health and good food! I have put together some tips that have helped me continue to eat healthy while not getting board with food choices and somehow still making it out the door in time to get my son to school.
Tip #1: Pre-packaged organic salad blends are my best friend
These pre-package organic salad blends are a game changer. All the veggie fixings you need are chopped and washed and ready to eat. However, I do not use the toppings and salad dressing that comes with the mixes (my husband likes these so I use them on his salads). I might add my own tomatoes, cucumbers and of course protein of choice (chicken, tuna or eggs). I also prefer to use my own salad dressing to cut back on the added sugar and calories from the dressing that comes with the mix. Top off the salad with some avocado and this makes for one yummy lunch!
Tip #2: Always have prepped protein on hand
I love grilled chicken on my salads or sautéed with vegetables, but if I don’t have time to meal prep the chicken on the weekends, I look for already grilled and sliced chicken in the frozen food section. I make sure though that the chicken does NOT have any hormones or antibiotics in it. For me, it has to be either organic or free range chicken. I also make sure I have tuna packets and eggs (hard boiled and regular) readily available. This way it’s super easy to add protein to my lunches.
Tip #3: Have good quality salad dressings and sauces on hand
This is a must! You can make a wonderful healthy salad and then poor on dressing that has a ton of calories in it and full of sugar. On the weekends I like to make my own dressing for the week or if there is no time to meal prep I like to use a good quality dressing that is low in sugar like Primal Kitchen’s Honey Mustard Dressing made with avocado oil. I also recommend having soy sauce, tamari sauce, or coconut aminos on hand for quick easy stir-fry’s or a sriracha sauce to spice things up a notch. Having a good sauce is key to making lunches flavorful and not boring.
Tip #4: Mason Jar lunches are AMAZING
When I was working I would make 4 Mason Jar salads on the weekends so during the week all I had to do was grab it out of the fridge and go. These are also great if you are traveling or going on a picnic. Some tips to avoid a soggy Mason Jar salad:
Tip #5: Sauté lunches
Since winter has decided to stick around here in Ohio for a little bit longer (yes it’s April and still snowing), I have been craving a hot lunch. So instead of making a salad I will sauté the vegetables and add in spices and sauces to change up the flavors. Greens that I have found easy to sauté are spinach, cabbage, and kale. I then add in whatever else I can find in my fridge. This includes scallions, shredded carrots, broccoli, chopped peppers, sliced mushrooms. I would then add in my protein, which is usually chicken or I scramble an egg or two.
Tip #6: Have chopped vegetables on hand
This is where spending a few extra minutes to meal prep on the weekend will save you a bunch of time. If you can’t chop, shred or slice your vegetables then buy them already chopped, shredded and sliced from the store. The trick is about grabbing what you want or need and not having to take extra time to chop up anything.
I hope these tips help you to make quick and easy, healthy meals for the week. Please let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy!
It has been one of those days where I am not feeling very creative on what to make for dinner. Ok, actually I have been in a dinner rut lately and I knew I needed to get out of it. My oldest son, whose 8, happened to be in the kitchen playing and saying “mom, mom, mom” over and over again (even though I already answered him) while I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner. I was at such a loss and tired of listening to a repeated “mom”, that I turned to him, gave him one of my favorite cookbooks (Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good cookbook) and told him to look through it and figure out what he wanted for dinner.
The plan worked! He decided he wanted the turkey meatballs and instead of making pasta to go with it, I decided to top the meatballs off with a little tomato sauce and make collard greens with mushrooms as a side. They were delicious and something we haven’t had in a while. Here is a link to a website that has the turkey meatball recipe. Click here for my collard greens recipe. Since I didn’t quite have everything for the exact recipe, I gave it a little Just Living Fit twist and made it work. Here are my changes:
I was hoping to have some left over for lunches this week, but my family ate them all! Therefore if you want leftovers DOUBLE THE RECIPE. Also, if you liked this recipe then I would HIGHLY recommend buying Gwyneth Paltrow’s Cookbook, It’s All Good. The recipes are delicious and very healthy. As someone who does not tolerate dairy well, I especially like how her recipes do not have dairy in them.
So my lesson learned today was to take a step back and let my children decide dinners more. It was a great way to get them excited for dinner, but also mix things up for us. Have a wonderful week!
It’s the first day of the New Year and it is colder than cold here in Ohio. We are talking about blow zero temps with the wind chill. That means one thing to me; it’s a soup day! Confession, it’s the first day of the year, but I don’t really want to cook. I mean we are still technically on Winter Break from school and besides Pilates class this morning it has been a pretty lazy day. I found this easy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe from the Food Network Recipes (Follow link for original recipe). It looked simple and easy to make plus I had all the ingredients. Score! I made a few modifications to make it a little bit healthier and easier for this busy (ok lazy today) mom.
It's Memorial Day Weekend and I'm loving every part of it! Schools out, summer vacation has officially started, the pool opens and my boys and I are spending as much time as possible outside. Today we took a family hike and had a picnic at Highbanks Metro Park. It was so nice to be out hiking and spending time in nature!
I also love this time of the year because it is the beginning of strawberry season and summer also means it's watermelon time! On days like today when we come home all hot and tired from being outside, I love to make my Strawberry Watermelon drink. I use fresh watermelon and frozen or fresh strawberries. I add in juice from half a lemon plus a few mint leaves and blend it all up! It's super easy to drink, very nutritious and it is so refreshing! Here is the recipe:
Servings: Makes one large glass
1.5 cups watermelon
1 cup strawberries
2 mint leaves
Juice from half a lemon
Blend it all together and you got the Perfect Strawberry Watermelon Drink for a hot summer day! Enjoy and here's to Just Living Fit!
Is it just me or do things seem to be busier since school is almost out. Between working, running around to school events, sporting events, practices and trying to figure out my husband's schedule, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed lately and the last thing I want to do is cook. I have to admit that my gourmet dinners that I love to make for my family have been minimal these past couple of weeks. My brother-in-law came to visit and I had every intention on making him a great meal, but exhaustion got the best of me and he had to settle for chicken nuggets and tater tots (my boys picked out this dinner). At least the chicken nuggets were homemade!
In my crazy, busy world I have been working on creating recipes that are family friendly, but also quick and easy. Earlier this week I made this one pot fish and vegetable dinner and my family was asking for more! For the fish you could use most white fish and salmon would also be a good choice. This night I used cod, a simple fish to cook with. The veggies are the fun part to make and you can totally make them how you want. I am in love with my spiralizer so it was super easy to spiralize
2 zucchinis and a squash. I placed them in a large bowl and tossed them with extra virgin olive oil and some fresh oregano, basil and minced garlic. Easy peasy! Once the fish was half way cooked, I flipped it and added in a coupe of splashes of white cooking wine, sherry, a squeeze of half a lemon and topped it off with some Old Bay Seasoning. At this point I also threw in my veggies to start cooking. That's it! The veggies and fish were done at the same time and I served it up. The whole dinner took roughly 20 minutes to make.
Here is the recipe:
Serves 3-4 people
3-4 Fish filets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) divided
2 medium zucchinis chopped or spiralized
1 medium zucchini squash chopped or spiralized
1 tbsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1 tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tbsp white cooking wine
1 tbsp sherry
1-2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Heat up 1 tbsp of the EVOO in a large skillet. Add the fish in to begin cooking. While the fish is cooking mix together in a large bowl the zucchini, squash, rest of the EVOO, oregano, basil and garlic.
Once the fish is halfway cooked (roughly 3-4 minutes) flip and push it to one side of the skillet. Add on top of the fish the white cooking wine, sherry, squeeze half the lemon on and sprinkle on the Old Bay Seasoning. Add in the zucchini and squash mixture and cook until the fish is cooked (about 3-5 minutes).
That's it! You can also use any veggies you like, carrots, mushrooms. green beans, etc. Also play around with the seasonings on the veggies. I love oregano and basil, but rosemary and garlic sound yummy as well. Also note that I don't add salt or pepper in most of my dishes. I feel that this is a personal choice on adding it or not. If you like them then add in the amount you would like. Enjoy and here's to Just Living Fit!
I was in Whole Foods the other day looking at their frozen fruit section, to get a variety of fruits for my smoothies when I came across the Aronia Berry. I have never heard of it before, but after I read the label it claimed that the Aronia Berry had more antioxidants than a blueberry. All right, I’ll try. The next day I made a smoothie bowl with the berries. Recipe is at the end of this entry. It was really good! I needed to learn more about this super berry.
The Aronia Berry that was at Whole Foods that I bought was Aronia melanocarpa or black choke berry. It is 4-9 millimeters in size and looks just like a blueberry, but it is a darker and richer color and tastes NOTHING like a blueberry. It is not sweet tasting at all like a blueberry, but put it with other ingredients like in my smoothie bowl recipe and it is yummy!
Did you know, the Aronia Berry also has the highest levels of anthocyanins and procyanidins which means it has a TON of antioxidants. It can be found as a berry, powder or juice. The health benefits are as follows:
I have only been able to find it in the frozen food section of Whole Foods, but the berry is a native to North America and may be available at some farmers’ markets this summer. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it!
Aronia Berry Smoothie Bowl recipe. Note you can get the specialty powders at a health food store or Whole Foods.
1 cup water
1 serving lemon flavored greens powder (optional, mine I use is from Advocare)
1 tsp camu powder
1 tsp maca power
1 serving vanilla protein powder of your choice
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 oz fresh/frozen aronia berries
Optional Toppings: walnuts, almonds, coconut flakes, fresh fruit /berries
Mix all ingredients well in a blender until it becomes super thick. Poor into a bowl to eat right away or pour into a Mason Jar to store in the fridge for later.
If you want more information on the Aronia Berry check out
or you can read the article in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
Aronia Plants: A Review of Traditional Use, Biological Activities, and Perspectives for Modern Medicine Adam Kokotkiewicz, Zbigniew Jaremicz, and Maria Luczkiewicz. Journal of Medicinal Food. April 2010, 13(2): 255-269. doi:10.1089/jmf.2009.0062.
Last night my family indulged in the family pizza night and a movie. We don’t do this often and most of the time I will make the pizzas for the family, but it has been a long week and a take n’ bake pizza from Costco sounded perfect. Since I don’t eat dairy, I opted for an Annie’s Roasted Veggie Pizza with no cheese. It was AWESOME and full of refined carbs. Tonight though I was craving vegetables specifically Bok Choy. I know sounds like a funny craving, but I think the extra carbs and lack of green veggies the night before might have played in to this. I decided to make cauliflower fried rice. I LOVE fried rice, but when I need to clean up my family’s eating especially after a carb filled night like last night it’s all vegetables and protein for dinner. Part of Just Living Fit is finding balance, so indulge in a special dinner, but then eat healthier the next day.
The recipe I followed is from www.SkinnyTaste.com, but I added in shrimp, extra carrots and peas, and I also added two Baby Bok Choy heads to it. To make the cauliflower “rice” I tried using a grater, but I quickly realized that it would take me FOREVER to grate the whole head, so I opted using the grater blade on my food processor. It took not even 2 minutes to have a whole head of cauliflower “rice”. The trick to not making the cauliflower “rice” soggy is to wash the head of cauliflower ahead of time and let it fully dry. I did this right after lunch, so come the time to make dinner it was good and dry. Next is to pulse the food processor just a few pulses at a time as you feed the cauliflower through. This way you get shorter “grains of rice” instead of the longer ones.
Once I have everything chopped up, (That brings me to a good point! I have learned to have EVERYTHING chopped and measured ahead of time BEFORE you start a recipe as I have ruined many good recipes because I was still chopping up something when it was supposed to go into the dish and before I knew it I had burned dinner.) I first cooked the shrimp in the large wok before I started to follow the recipe from Skinny Taste. I then removed the shrimp and placed it on a plate to the side and added it back in at the end of the recipe along with the Bok Choy.
My favorite way to chop the Bok Choy after I rinse it off it to chop the bottom (white end) off (see picture below) and then slice the leaves length wise. If you look at the end that you chopped off, it looks like a pretty flower. Kids (and adults too!) can use the end to do vegetable paintings. You dip the flower looking side in paint and have fun! Kids love this!
This whole dinner took maybe 30 minutes to make. The time consuming part is all the chopping of the vegetables. You could do this ahead of time and for a quick, easy and healthy dinner option.
I love smoothies. They're easy to make, store and can be brought with you where ever you go. My youngest son also loves smoothies and has a green smoothie almost every morning. He is loving the show PJ Masks right now so we name his smoothies Gekko Green, Strawberry Owlette, or Catboy Blueberry. He loves this and I like how he gets to chose what he wants for breakfast so there is NO arguments to get him to eat.
Back to my obsession with smoothies. About two years ago I would start my day with a smoothie and thought I was eating a "healthy" breakfast. I was trying to eat healthy and exercise, but I was GAINING weight instead of losing it. I met with a nutritionist, Ashley, and we figured out that my beloved "healthy" smoothies (I used all organic fruit and veggies and no dairy at all in it!) were loaded with almost 65g of sugar! OH MY GOODNESS! No wonder I was gaining weight! I thought they were good for me because I was using fruit and vegetables, but what I didn't realize was I was using too much of them. She taught me how to still have a good tasting smoothie and keep the sugars to under 12g per smoothie. She also taught me that I should have my smoothie AFTER I work out and not before. My body will be able to digest and process it more efficiently then. So now I have my eggs and spinach for breakfast and save the smoothie for after my workout or an afternoon snack.
I also learned from Ashley how to simplify my smoothies. I was putting 7-10 items in my smoothies, but really you only need a few things and it still tastes great. From my experiences I wanted to share some ideas and things I have learned on how to make an easy green smoothie.
Here is a sample smoothie of what I was drinking before I met Ashley:
1 cup almond milk
1 kale leaf with stem removed
1.5 handfuls of Spinach
2 tbsp chia seeds
1-2 tsp red maca powder
.75 cup pineapple
1 cup strawberries
This smoothie had 64.25g of SUGAR and 4g PROTEIN (no wonder I was starving 2 hours later!)
My new simple and healthy smoothie:
1 cup water
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp maca powder
2 scoops Vegan Max protein powder (I have to use a whey free protein powder)
1 packet frozen unsweetened acai berry
1 cup mixed berries
Smoothie totals: 12g SUGAR and 30g PROTEIN
But my simplest smoothie recipe is this:
1 cup liquid (nut milk, water, coconut water)
1 LARGE handful of spinach
2 scoops protein powder
70g of a frozen fruit (my favorite is strawberry)
Sometimes I like to mix things up and add in different minerals based on how I am feeling. I am currently loving this smoothie (FYI, this was the smoothie I posted on Instagram today):
1 cup Cashew Milk
Greens powder (my favorite is the Advocare Greens)
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp camu powder
2 scoops Vegan Max (I get this at Lifetime Fitness)
70g of strawberries
Here are some tips I have learned about the art of smoothie making:
1) Keep it simple
2) For a smooth green smoothie blend your liquid, banana (or avocado if using that) and spinach FIRST then add in the rest of the ingredients. By doing a quick blend you will get a smooth smoothie because who really wants a chunky spinach smoothie?
3) Use caution when adding in more than 2 fruits as the sugar level can get extremely high really easy. See above paragraph.
4) Spinach is the EASIEST greens to work with and it tastes the best when making a green smoothie. My boys even love it in there smoothies!
I found this chart from Hellonatural and it gives a good visual of different suggestions for smoothie combinations.
Enjoy making those green smoothies and I would LOVE to hear in the comments section some smoothies that you are loving as well. Here's to Just Living Fit!
Most nights it seems like I don’t have much time to cook dinner because we are busy and going every which way, but when my boys get hungry (or” hangry” is what we call it in my house) they want their dinner like yesterday. I usually have a protein picked out like chicken, fish or beef, but sometimes I have a difficult time figuring out a healthy, quick side to make. My go-to whenever I am in this predicament is quick, healthy greens sautéed.
USDA recommends eating 2-3 cups of dark leafy greens a week, so sneaking in some sautéed greens at dinner is a quick way to get a serving. You can use any greens, but my family favorite ones are collard greens, beet greens, spinach, and broccoli greens. We have tried the leaves from our brussel sprout plants, but my family thinks the other greens are tastier. Greens in general are low in calories and packed with so many good for you vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that they should be a staple in everyone’s diet.
How do I cook the greens that are quick and healthy?
Quick and Easy Healthy Greens Recipe
I try to keep my greens pretty simple and honestly they are super quick to cook! You could also add in any of the following veggies/flavors to make the greens your own:
Directions for Cooking Healthy Greens
Find out more about living a healthy lifestyle.
Lately I have been hearing a lot about Avocado Oil. What's the big deal? I had to do some research and see if everything I was hearing was true. Avocado oil has 8 grams of omega 9, high in vitamin E and this fruit (yes it is considered a fruit) has more potassium in it than a banana. Per the USDA, avocado oil has 124 calories per tablespoon, 0 carbohydrates and 14 grams of fat. Most of the fat is good for you monounsaturated fat and there are a ton of other nutritional benefits of it, I must give this oil a try.
With only a mild avocado flavor, there are many ways to use avocado oil. It is great for medium-high heat use, so we can saute or bake or use it like any other oil up to 400 degrees F. You can also use it for the following:
1. Drizzle on top of hummus or any other dips as well as soups
2. Sprinkle it on top of avocado toast
3. Use it where ever you use olive oil; saute, salad dressings, etc.
4. Drizzle on top of eggs
5. Use alone with pepper and Italian seasonings for a bread dip
6. Use it in marinades
When I cook, I usually don't have much time with having two little boys around asking me when breakfast, lunch or dinner will be ready so I like to keep things simple. On this particular morning I had a few extra minutes (like 2!) to make breakfast and I decided to use it to make scrambled eggs with peppers and spinach. It turned out yummy! Avocado oil is so easy to use and so simple to swipe out my olive oil for it. Avocado oil has given me more oil options to use with my cooking and I can't wait to try it on other things!
While researching avocado oil I came across this great video on YouTube about Avocado Oil and its benefits by Healthy Hints. Check it out for more information on this amazing oil!