Wednesday, March 8, 2017

4 Ingredient Whole30 :: Paleo Caesar Spaghetti Bake.

Remember that time I thought I'd be blogging each week in 2017? Yea, me too...
Welp. We do what we can right? Working on that mentality in 2017. Stay tuned for the hyper-perfectionist, control freak, people-pleaser, yes-girl's outcome to that effort. (insert new, and much needed, eye-roll emoji here).

With the completion of one Whole45 challenge this year, and working through my next Whole30 currently, I've done a lot of cookin this year. It always feels good to be back in my zone. To be prepping, creating, and all around nailing the "clean eating" efforts. Feels good, don't it feel good. A lot of these meals get randomly thrown together and slapped out there on SnappyChat (designerlisa), and a lot of people ask for these recipes but I just keep postponing and looking for the perfect way to post, share, or word these things.

Then suddenly one of your besties makes you a home-cooked, Whole30 approved, meal (because she cares about your goals and lifestyle and SHOWS IT!) and you realize you can S I M P L I F Y.

So here we are. SIMPLIFYING with a SIMPLE meal. Katy shared this gem on Trim Down Tuesday over at her stellar blog, Keeping Up With Katy. You can check out her personality-filled blog and lifestyle musings here!

So what's amazing about this dish, is not only it's simplicity (catching the theme here), but also it's flexibility. Katy made the version she wrote about here from Pinterest for us and it was delicious! I altered a couple things based on what I had in my pantry and fridge and it was also...delicious.

SO Paleo Caesar Spaghetti Bake. (The way I made it this week)
What ya need:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash 
  • 3/4 cup of Tessamea's Whole30 Approved Caesar Dressing (Whole Foods or Central Market)
  • 2 grass-fed beef sausage links (Costco has some TOP notch beef links yall. Quality meat.)
  • Greens...any kind. Whatever you fancy. I used a mix of kale, chard and spinach and about 
Then what happens:
  1. Prep your sketti squash. There are many ways to do this! I preheat the oven to 415, slice open the squash, and cut out all the seeds and muck with a small knife. Then brush each half with some oil (avocado is my preferred) and then salt and pepper. And bake until the shell gives a little. This usually takes 30 or so minutes depending on your oven and the size of your squash. You can also microwave so just test out your preferred method!
  2. While that's cooking, prep your meat. I used a pan with some avocado oil to pan sear the beef sausage after cutting into small discs. (Katy used a rotisserie chicken which is even easier and still tasty!)
  3. Once baked, use a fork to shred the "spaghetti into an 8x8 pyrex pan.
  4. Mix in the meat and its juice if there is any! 
  5. Then add the greens and that Caesar goodness and mix everything together. 
  6. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes to warm everything together to just get that flava flave all set in. 
Serve up OR let sit and divide into containers for the week! I made 4 containers out of mine which was from a small-medium spaghetti squash and let me tell you. It reheats B-E-A-U-tifully.

And that's all for now. 

Happy Simplifying and Finding Fit, 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Lil Nutrition Lesson :: & Cauliflower Hash-browns.

If you've ever gandered down your Facebook feed, then I'd venture to say you've seen those "Tasty" videos by Buzzfeed and the gazillion other types of cooking videos and snippets populating the inter-webs. While I tend to slide on past those because the most enticing ones involve all things sugar, not spice, somebody shared one the other day that totally caught my eye!

Cauliflower is one of those unicorn vegetables...nobody believes the goodness exists in it, but when you truly see the nutritional value and the ease of using it in literally anything, it becomes a treasured kitchen arsenal!
I mean I know the texture seems weird and dealing with it is a little like being covered in chalk powder (hard pass yall.) BUT please look at all the benefits of this super-veggie!
  • Fights Cancer (both with cancer cell killing and inhibiting compounds)
  • Boosts Heart Health (with better blood pressure and kidney performance)
  • It's an Anti-Inflammatory (aint nobody need no inflammation triggered!)
  • All da Vitamins and Minerals (Vitamin C, K, protein, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, B6...JUST to name a few)
  • Boosts Brain Health (and ya really can't fix stupid)
  • Supports Digestion (yep...the fiber...yep...mass exodus...)
  • Antioxidants support Detoxification (say bye to all the toxins...)
So WHY would you not give the lil white-headed step-child a chance?
Sidenote: these same benefits are found in a lot of other cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, radishes, kale, and turnips, among others!

But I digress...

That video I saw was for what I've come to call a "Cauliflower Hashbrown" and it was EASY and SO good. 
Here's what I used:
  • About half a bag of this pre-riced Organic Cauliflower Rice (I posted a couple weeks ago about making cauli-rice though if you aren't as lazy and convenience driven with your cooking...)
  • 2 eggs
  • FlavorGod Garlic Lovers Seasoning (Any of them would be awesome or some garlic powder, s/p would do alright)
  • Some Avocado Oil for cooking
Then What Happened: 
  1. Mix half the bag of cauli-rice with 2 cracked eggs and coat in seasonings of choice. You want this to be sticky and evenly coated.
  2. Heat a pan with some avo oil (or EVOO) and add lumps of the mixture like little pancakes
  3. Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes or until brown. If your pan is hot enough, it will brown and crisp up (and painfully splatter you a little) and be easier to flip!
  4. I added a little extra seasoning before removing from the oil and then let them sit and crisp up a little. 
  5. That's it! Now stack with anything and everything! I added a spread of guacamole (I think the video did this) and then 2 fried eggs on top! I mean LOOK at them yolks...
These reheated and tasted great (obviously not crispy but still tasty) and they tasted just like a hash brown to me which is fun to get more of the nutritional benefit without the heaviness of potato!

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, ain't no discriminating. Just do it. And fight all the bad things in your body with somethin GOOD. 

Finding Fit, 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Whole45 Update :: Seeking my "Differently."

Well into the 4th week of my umpteenth Whole30 style nutrition challenge (Whole45 is what's goin down these days if you missed it!), I get really excited to keep on keeping on. While a lot of Whole30er's are having dreams of that reintroduction phase and how thankful they are the Reese's Valentines hearts are dawning the shelves with such timeliness, I am ready to keep going.

Around this stage I see just what I've been missing all over again, since the last slippery slope off the wagon. I see my body change shape. I see the numbers change. I see my dependency on said numbers change. I see pictures of myself I like. I see my face differently. I see my closet differently. I see myself, my determination, my dedication, and my priorities. Differently.

Let's first get one thing straight...I am human...there are things I want sometimes more than the meat and produce awaiting me in the fridge. There are times a little dessert sounds like it would go a long way. And every once in a while a day when I'd just appreciate a dadgum glass of wine (or 2). BUT (and it's a pretty significant "but") remember those aforementioned things I see differently?? My mental strategy and game is always to call those to mind FIRST.

So as I call those things to mind, it's funny how the Bible reminds us to be on our guard from temporary satisfaction because the enemy is on the prowl. Most people don't think of food or "cheat meals" as an open door for the enemy...mostly because they don't have to. But the more I've stripped down 2017 for my reset and shut as many of those open pathways, the more I've seen that the enemy prowls around my kitchen and my meal times as well. He'd love nothing more than for me to give in, backtrack, get discouraged, self destruct, and withdraw from the Lord and His plan for even this one aspect of my life.

Lately simplifying life (in a lot of aspects) helps to keep me from getting distracted and creating pockets of access points for that prowling lion. I tend to overwhelm myself with a perfect version of the check list and then each task barrels down with an unattainable check mark. While my battle with perfectionism and unrealistic rosy pictures will be coming to a theater near you in the future, I choose to focus today on simplifying, anchoring in truth and just enjoying those "differently"s as the result. 

Today's simple focus looked like this: 
  • Get a simple workout in, even while traveling with friends, in the midst of distraction. 
  • Arrive home from the airport after a full-heart weekend full of childhood friends and cute baby nuggets in the Little Apple, Manhattan...Kansas. 
  • Go straight to the grocery store and only get what supplements things leftover or frozen from the week before. Don't try to reinvent when you've got a good base already!
  • Grab a giant ice coffee (black-duh.) and get in the meal prep zone (Too Legit To Quit playlist and all)
  • I kept it simple this week with mason jar salads and homemade dressing for lunches and an old favorite, Pizza Spaghetti Pie, for dinners. 
  • I ended prep with a tasty but simple dinner that makes me excited for the things I make and the non-boring, non-flavorless food choices I choose. (This is oven baked sweet potato discs, brussels sprouts, 100% grass fed beef Polish links (a favorite Costco discovery) and a drizzle of homemade jalapeno "ranch". Simple. Flavor, Explosion.
So yes, we have another 17 days or so in this go round for me (before I give myself a little treat for birthday shenanigans and then rev the engines again for March 1st). But I intend to pursue all the simplifying, Satan thwarting, happy place making decisions I can. Because I can. And because I can't wait to see the next thing...differently. 

Making small check marks and Finding Fit, 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Forget Boring :: Chicken "Fried Rice"

With the turning of the new year, there are a LOT of people venturing into Whole30 as I mentioned last week. One of my college friends actually set up an accountability group for friends participating in a Whole30 challenge in January on Facebook; and, it has been a blast to see strangers and friends alike help each other out with tips, tricks, struggles and all the food pics (pretty or not!)

One of the recipes I shared in that group, from the archives, was this "Fried Rice", inspired from Livin Paleo. I used to make it a regular in the rotation and have just forgotten that I enjoy it so much! It seemed to be a hit with those who tried it and I decided to whip some up for my lunches this week, in my meal-prep last night. Man, were my taste-buds happy at lunch today! (not to mention full and satisfied!)

What I used...
  • Avocado oil for pan frying everything (1-2 tablespoons total)
  • 1 head cauliflower (chopped and then pulsed in the food processor to a rice like consistency-i did this in about 4 parts)
  • Chicken breasts, chopped and cooked (I made 6 meals out of mine so I used 6 chicken breasts, any sort of meat will work - pork, beef...)
  • About 1.5-2 cups of chopped carrots
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Snow Peas (I chopped and added them because they sounded good-any veggie could work in this!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Coconut Aminos (this is an excellent replacement for Soy Sauce!)
  • Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper for seasoning
  • Green onions to top
Then What Had Happened Was...
  1. In one pan, cook up your meat! I just coated in garlic powder and added a little salt and pepper then set aside. (Steamy. I know....I mean we are talkin chicken breast here...)
  2. In another pan, saute the onion in oil (EVOO or Avocado oil are fine!) Then add in your carrots and cover to steam.
  3. Add in the snap peas. These need less time to cook, depending on how textured you want your veggies. Add some garlic powder and s/p in this mix as well so it soaks in some flavor as it cooks!
  4. Set these aside and pan fry the riced cauliflower. I added a little oil and then some garlic here and just sauteed enough for flavor but not to mush...
  5. Mix the meet, veggies, and "rice" in one large skillet and then pour in the Coconut Aminos.
  6. Whisk the egg separately and then dump over the entire pan, incorporating the egg and allowing it to cook all around the mixture. Stir for a couple minutes until cooked. 
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add some chopped green onions on top for look and added flavor.
This reheats great and is an easy and tasty way to get in lots of veggies and your protein. Who says you can't have some fun with cultural inspiration on your Whole30?!

Working on the egg roll solution...
and Finding Fit, 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2017 Reset :: My Whole 45.

Oh hey 2017. Didn't see you there!
While I join the rest of the world in the natural mixed sentiments: "where did 2016 go?", "bye Felicia to 2016", "what am I doing with my life?"...ya know the usual New Year revelations and year turning mental crises, I also rejoin the blogging world. Said Finding Fit revival to include, though not limited to, all things health, cooking, working out, blatant truth about progress (and sometimes lack there of) and, naturally, occasional Friends references.

Rather than focus on the sad truth of a measly 6 posts that squeaked out in early 2016, I'm diving right in with the here and now!

Though I'm not one for the trendy "Resolution" thing, as expressed back in 2015 here, I am a fan of a mental reset. Any of my Facebook friends or Instagram followers know that I lead a fun life. Seriously. I am young and single; and, Lord willing, that won't be the case forever, so I embrace it! However, that fun life has sneakily become more of a priority than a lot of things the Lord has gifted me passion and drive towards (see my original story shared here), so it's time to RESET the priorities...

RESET time habits
RESET budget habits
RESET sleep habits
RESET eating habits
RESET Jesus habits.

For me, this starts back at home base...the kitchen. SO I have started Whole30 again, as Because, I'm just not good at that whole 80/20 lifestyle, and I much prefer the way I feel while pursuing smart and healthy foods. After mentioning a Whole30 to my trainer/bestie/ex-roomie, #CoachBecca, she sort of gave me that "annnnd what else?..." sort of look, nudging me to realize 30 days is a good start, but I can do more. I've done 101 days straight and lived to tell about it. So with my birthday February 17th and maybe a little celebration desired at that point, I decided a Whole45 would suffice in getting back on track for now. 

I thrive on the community of people interested in this lifestyle change and sharing recipes, techniques and research, so here we go!

Monday being a holiday provided a perfect chance to dive into shopping and cooking...or as some may say "being right back in my element". And let me tell you, I was JUST THAT. Snacks, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners all prepped and ready to take on the week, in true Whole30 lifestyle! (And yes I'll divulge some details on these later this week). 
Plus this perfectionist's heart skips a beat at the idea of THIS image going into the week..,,
My goal is to share recipes and experiences here in my corner of the world wide web once a week for the entirety of my Whole45 so here we go....Reset is in place...and Team Monica always wins.

Still Finding Fit in 2017, 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Joy of Jogging :: Challenge Time.

If you've been following this blog for a while, you probably know two things:
A. I'm really good at gettin crazy busy and falling off the left phalange of the blogosphere (I'M SORRY!) and TWO, I live for a good fitness challenge.

My friends know that lately I've been searching to rediscover my love for working out. While boxing has been a great and fun adventure, I've found that it doesn't hold my attention, drive, and determination like Crossfit did. Even the weekly morning workout routine fizzled out. Being almost 6 months post-surgery, I am finally starting to evaluate what exercise regimen works for me and how to take the weight loss to the next level.
Coming to terms with the fact that the community, encouragement, accountability, and constantly varied programming of Crossfit is my heart's one true fitness love...I plan to return to the Crossfit world in July. Yes, in the heat of the summer. But hey, that's when I started almost 5 years ago and it lasted almost 4 years, so BRING ON THE HEAT!

In the meantime, I've been soaking up my last couple weeks in my apartment complex, surrounded by a beautiful park and trails. Which got me to thinking...maybe it's time to revisit "running". I use air quotes, not in the way Joey does "not usin em right", but because running is to be read as "jogging" or "fast paced walking-ish" activity.

Several years ago I did some 5K Training classes with RunOn and loved it! But when I joined my second session, I experienced numbness and crazy pain in my feet no matter what shoes I wore and what pace I kept. After seeing such progress in working towards "running", I was devastated to have to stop due to Plantar Fasciitis in both my feet and bone spurs in both my heels. Yes, that's as painful as it sounds.

Sitting at my lowest weight as an adult (so far) right now, I figured I may as well see how some light jogging fares with my feet (and with my Vionic orthodic tennis seriously...I swear by their shoe support). I took to the park to see if I could just get some short little jogs in, maybe 100-200 meters at a time. And ya know what. I did. Before I noticed, I was doing 400 and even an 800 at a time on my first venture. And it felt good. Like the good that Phoebe feels when she runs. I may have even released a little Phoebe run in the back lot of the park...
A friend of mine mentioned that I should look into a jogging challenge of sorts...and you guessed it...I've jumped at that idea.

SO I set out this week to add jogging in 3 times a week. My first venture out, I just jogged to see how long I could go, and before I knew it, I was aiming to get a mile in without walking. AND I DID IT. Even when taking the running classes, there was always intermittent walking and running so this was literally the first time I had run a mile straight with no walking.
It was slow.
It felt long.
13 minutes to be exact.
But by the end, I felt like I could keep going.
And then yes, I took a sweaty selfie. A swealfie.
With the encouragement of some fit friends and their running expertise, I've decided to delve into what I'm labeling The Joy of Jogging Challenge. Putting my favorite word right there in the title can only mean good things right?

Here's the challenge: 
Weeks 1-3, Jog 1 mile straight 3 days a week. 
Weeks 4-5, jog 1 mile 2 days a week, and 2 miles 1 day a week
Weeks 6-8, jog 1 mile 3 days a week, and 2 miles 1 day a week 

Tonight, I had my second jog and my mile was 13:22. A little longer, a little hotter, a little different than the first. BUT I did it. With no walking.

I share this, like everything else I share here, to seek accountability, to encourage others to participate or get after their own challenges, and to have a place to remain open and honest about my progress with "running" and all things fit.

I'm determined to choose COURAGE to do something I wouldn't venture into for fear of failure OVER COMPLACENCY of letting the potential to do something great pass by. 
 So get to jogging and if you see me, ask me how it's goin. You're the best.

Finding the Joy in Jogging and
Finding Fit,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

So Fresh and So Clean Clean :: Shaved Cauliflower Salad.

A couple weeks ago the girls took to a fantastic dinner spot for birthday celebrations. Americano sits in the heart of downtown, adjacent to the stunning Joule hotel. And while in all honesty, our shared second courses mostly consisted of brick oven pizzas (no regrets, yall), the FIRST course was one to talk about. "Shaved Cauliflower Salad" was SO fresh, delicious and clean that I know I had to recreate this one myself.
I finally made it happen!

Now before I go any further, lemme get real with you. I hardly EVER buy cauliflower heads because I HATE cutting it. I may have mentioned this before...I know. I know. It's not difficult. And it's not. HOWEVER, my OCD, clean freak, texture paranoid self is on steroids around the vegetable. It taunts me with gritty, piece-y, crumbling mess that sticks to any and every surface. SO I stick to pre-chopped.
All that vulnerable honesty to tell you this salad was THAT good that I put aside my personal preferences to buy heads of chop myself.

So here's what I used:
  • Cauliflower (I used white and yellow but would have added purple if they had it...for looks. duh)
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 4 Table spoons Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Pistachios (shelled, unsalted)
  • 1/4 Cup Golden Raisins
  • Chives for garnish

(And yes, that's bottled lemon juice because I forgot to buy lemons!)

Then what happened:
  1. Wash heads of Cauliflower
  2. Cut out leaves and stem (be prepared for aforementioned crumblies...not to be confused with crummies...) 
  3. In sections, slice the cauliflower into thinly sliced "shavings". I ended up using about 1/3 of each head for the proportions of everything else here. 
  4. Mix the oil and lemon juice together and then dump over the cauliflower
  5. Add in the pistachios, raisins, and chives...annnnd mix.
  6. Yep that easy. Serve on the side of any protein...but know that it will be difficult to not just eat the whole bowl of this!

    While most my life is chop, chop, chop, saute, saute, saute....this chop, chop, mix was quite a welcomed and easy change of pace. 

    And hey what a way to welcome Spring/Summer or whatever season your corner of this moodswingin-weathered-earth is currently experiencing. 

    (Posted while golf-ball hail is pelting my windows. Thanks Texas weather)

    Finding Fit and Conquering Cauliflower Chopping,