Sunday, May 4, 2014

Healthy Menu Ideas

30 days ago, I started a health and nutrition program in an attempt to stop eating junk, stop drinking soda, shed a few pounds and just feel better. I've been amazed at how quickly I've lost pounds (7 to be exact) and inches (19 of them!) and not only that, how much better I feel. Have you ever been at a place in your life where you just feel good? Where you wake up energized, sleep like a rock, don't rely on coffee or soda to get you through the day and don't find yourself craving and giving in to every sweet treat that comes your way? I'm finally there and it feels so good. The girl who used to have to run to the store, fast food place or gas station daily to grab that fountain soda or the girl who needed some form of chocolate every day just to get that little boost - that girl is gone. Now, don't get me wrong, I still love chocolate, I still think Dr. Pepper is super yum and I'm not against having a treat now and then. This is real life and it is unrealistic to think you'll go forever without a piece of cake and at a birthday party or a hotdog at a ball game or a soda and a piece of pizza at your favorite pizza spot. I haven't gone crazy. But what I have learned is that those things are in fact treats. Not everyday necessities. And when you are putting good things into your body like God designed, your body functions as it should.

I've shared a bit about that on my facebook page and have had a few requests the past few weeks to post a menu or what I'm eating/cooking now. I have to say, it's not drastically different to what I've always cooked, I have just made some alterations to recipes and have cut certain things out. I'll also say that our kids eat what I make. They don't always love it (although most of the time they do), but they still eat it. I'm not making a meal for Mike and I and then something completely different for the girls. Make your kids try things - veggies, salads, etc. will not kill them. Macie doesn't just love green beans but when I make them, they are on her plate and she eats them. Tonight, Mabrie didn't want her watermelon, but she had to take 3 bites of it before she was allowed to get up. Often my girls will turn their noses up at a meal and then when they sit down and take a bite, they end up loving it and cleaning their plates. My mom was the same way with us, and I'm convinced that's why we would eat Chinese, Italian, American, Mexican, veggies, salads, fruits, and more - because if mom made it, we ate it. Period. I vividly remember when she'd make something like stuffed peppers thinking and probably voicing "GAG ME - I hate stuffed peppers!!" Guess what Chrissy ate for dinner that night? Yep, stuffed peppers. I lived to tell the tale. So will my girls. So will your kids.

So, here are some healthy menu ideas and I'll try to link you to the recipes or the blog where I found them.

Chicken and Lime Soup - Click HERE for the recipe - this is a great option for a cool, rainy night OR for Cinco De Mayo.

Copycat Chipotle Grill Burrito Bowls - Click HERE - these are a favorite go to for me! I enjoy Mexican food, but it can be SO fattening and heavy. These are perfect and light! I also used this rice last night for the chicken quesadillas that I made. I'll post that recipe separately.

Chicken Pizza - Click HERE - this is a great option for pizza lovers! It can be made even healthier by using a thin, whole wheat crust. Serve with a salad and you will have a satisfying meal with a lot less calories than take out pizza.

This one doesn't have a link, but I love to marinate chicken in olive oil, lemon juice, fresh rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss it on the grill and serve with a bunch of roasted veggies. My favorites are zucchini, squash, yukon gold potatoes, red onion, broccoli all cut up into bite size pieces, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, maybe some other seasonings of your choice and roast for about 20-30 minutes on 400 degrees. These taste so good with the grilled chicken. Again, a side salad is a great option with this.

I got a fantastic recipe recently for Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Asian style). Take 3-4 chicken breasts, lightly coat in olive oil, salt and pepper and place on cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until done. Let cool for a few minutes and in a bowl add some chopped cilantro, shredded carrots and green onions. Using a food chopper, finely chop chicken (or shred with 2 forks). Add chicken to bowl and toss with a small amount of Asian Peanut sauce. Just enough to hold it all together. Serve in Bibb Lettuce cups. These are great and my kids loved them!

One of my favorite blogs for recipes is One Lovely Life - she has a whole section of gluten and dairy free recipes and is even compiling recipes for people that eat Paleo or Whole 30 - click here for the link

Another blog I love is Skinny Taste. She has Weight Watcher points listed for each recipe and has a great compilation of those things we all love to eat and has changed them up to be healthier. You can find so many good ideas on this blog!

If you are looking for good lunch options, some things I enjoy are tuna salad served over a spring lettuce mix and using Olive Oil and Red Wine vinegar for the dressing. A little salt and pepper and you have a filling and yummy lunch.

Cook with rice, veggies, fruits, salads, lean meats, fish, shrimp, as often as possible. I even like a good grilled burger now and then and find that it's great wrapped in a Bibb lettuce cup as opposed to a bun. You can jazz it up a million ways and skip the bread for a lighter meal. Don't want fries with it, how about dice up and roast a sweet potato for a side? If you're making pasta, use whole wheat. Or better yet, make spaghetti squash - yum!!

There are a million ways to make your favorite foods better for you - just think it through a little and see where you can save calories and fat here and there. Every little bit will make a difference. Make a fruit salad, slice up a watermelon for an after dinner bite of something sweet. Get some vanilla greek yogurt, add some honey, granola and strawberries for a yummy sweet treat in place of ice cream. Need something crunchy? Baby carrots and hummus are SO good!! Try it! I hope this has helped give you all a few ideas and a few places to find good options. Feel free to comment if you have questions or want other recipe ideas - I'll do my best. I am no expert of course, but I would love to help you find recipes that your family will love and that you can walk away from feeling good about!

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