When you start changing your diet, one of the most important things you can do is to start looking at the labels of foods you buy. Unfortunately, you can’t trust the marketing lingo on the front of the box. A product may claim to be all natural, whole grain and no sugar added – and still be full of chemicals, sodium and artificial sweeteners. So you may think you are being healthy but in reality it is that food that is bringing you down! The best thing to do is to look at the ingredient labels and compare that to the nutritional label to see if it’s a healthy-ish option.
I look at the ingredient list first. The ingredients are listed in order of the ingredient that is in the highest concentration in the food. So if the number one ingredient is sugar….yeah, it’s going back on the shelf! I look for the top ingredients to be foods that I recognize, whole grains, etc. I look for a minimum of things I don’t recognize. If I don’t know what it is, do I want to eat it?? There are a lot of sneaky words for added sugar, which often are things like fructose, sucrose, syrup of various varieties (corn, rice, etc). I don’t mind if honey or pure maple syrup are added, as long as the overall sugar content in the label isn’t that high – a few grams or less. Women should consumer less than 20g of added sugar per day and men 36g.
Sodium is the next thing I look at, because sodium is often added in large quantities to make food taste better. Everything tastes better with salt! But I would like to be the one to add it in small amounts. As with sugar, I look for the sodium level to be in the single digits and as low as possible.
I don’t buy a ton of processed foods, because they are usually high in one of these! Milton’s crackers and cereal and gluten free pretzels are probably my only “staples” that I buy in the snack category. Oh and Z Bars, which are organic, I am pretty comfortable with all the ingredients and my kids love them. So I feel less guilty about them being “processed.” More about cereal in another article (my 5 year old LOVES cereal, I used to eat it every day but after reviewing the sugar content on pretty much every box of cereal I save it for an occasional treat meal!). My husband is a celiac so he likes the gluten free pretzels.
There are a number of other things you can look at…calories, fat, saturated fat, trans fat…I try to stay away from GMO (genetically modified ingredients), MSG, partially or full hydrogenated oils…
And added vitamins and nutrients are all well and good but I’m not going to consume extra sugary items for that reason! I feel it’s sort of a marketing strategy to make it appear healthier than it is!
There are a lot of things but I focus on the ingredients first, because the ingredients will tell me if there is crap in it and if the sugar is high then the calories and carbohydrates will be too! This is a very broad overview, and if you’d like a more indepth one you can read more about it on the FDA’s page here. When I’m in the grocery store with both my 5 and almost 3 year old, I have about 10 seconds to scan a label before I get interrupted and the ingredient scan and sugar and sodium scan give me a really quick idea if I want to buy the item or not. Rule of thumb – stick to the perimeter of the grocery store for clean eating!
Last year a friend shared some information about an organization called IR4, or I Run 4. Runners are paired with people who are unable to run. The organization started with a runner named Tim Boyle and a named Michael who was physically unable to run, and he told Tim he could run anyday for him! Tim found a whole new inspiration to run and started IR4 as a way to connect and inspire runners by friends who are physically unable to run. Each runner keeps in contact with their buddy via the designated Facebook groups. There are also branch organizations, called Kerri On: I Run 4 Remembrance and IR4 Siblings: The Unsung Heroes. It’s about more than miles; it’s about building relationships and bolstering support systems.
I decided to join the IR4 Siblings: The Unsung Heroes support group. I was quickly paired with a sweet little girl Jordyn, whose sister already participated in IR4 and had a runner through the group. Jordyn’s mom helps us to keep in touch weekly and it’s fun to be able to share my workouts and runs with her and have her cheer me on as well, as well as send silly pictures back and forth during the week.
If you already run and would love some additional inspiration, you can sign up here to have a match made for you!
One week after completing my first marathon in March, I decided to try out a different workout program – 22 HardCorps. This is a 22 minute, military inspired 8 week boot camp workout. There are actual military veterans in the workouts, which is pretty cool. The trainer is Tony Horton, who was also the trainer/creator of the very popular workouts p90x workout series.
Going into it, I thought 22 minutes sounded like a really nice break from the long distance runs I had been completing. It started out at a pace I was comfortable with, but by the end of the 8 weeks the workouts ramped up and were really challenging!!
22HardCorps alternates cardio days with resistance days and the workouts gradually intensify. 10 minute core workouts are recommended every other day, but are optional. I generally stuck pretty close to the schedule, but on days I had soccer games (Thursdays and Sundays) I did not complete a 22HC workout, so that did end up extending the 8 weeks to closer to 10 weeks.
A pull-up bar is recommended for this program, but I didn’t have one so used the acceptable alternate of a band and door connector. It wasn’t as challenging as pull-ups would have been (but who am I kidding, I can’t do a pull-up so would have been very assisted anyways!). So, here are my before and after pics! At initial glance it’s hard to tell a difference. To be honest, I didn’t weigh myself before and after, because I wasn’t really trying to lose much. I had a few lbs around my waist (inches, rather!) that I could feel and wanted to get them off. And I did!
-3.5 inches around waist (my biggest goal accomplished!)
+1 inch around hips (so my hips got bigger. I think my gluteus maximus got bigger, which I am fine with. #gainz, right??)
+.5 inch on each arm – yay for slightly bigger muscles!
-.5 inch on each thigh – still some work to do there with toning.
Overall, I loved the combination of cardio and resistance this program offered, along with the quick yet intense workouts. There are a lot of cool full body moves in this program, such as the Mountain Squats, bear, spider and gorilla crawls and MULTIPLE burpee variations. If you love a good burpee, this is a program to try because they are in a ton of the workouts, along with pushups!
If you think you’d be interested in trying out this program, message me! Beachbody’s subscription service is available with a 14 day free trial and you can try out 22HardCorps, along with any other Beachbody workouts you’d like!! Click here to sign up and try it out. Let me know if you’re trying it out so I can answer any questions you may have and support you!
My friend Jamie told me this joke in high school and I can still hear her saying it and it makes me laugh. If you don’t get it… well, try saying it with a finger and head snap and a little sass and see if you that helps you get the pronunciation right.
Onto the reason for this post – Kale nachos.
Kale chips are all the rage these days, so why not Kale nachos?? Because when you order nachos, do you really order them for the possibly stale and then eventually soggy pile of corn chips underneath the glorious meat, cheese and toppings?? Nope. #allaboutthosetoppings
So here we go for some healthy nachos:
1 bunch kale
1 package lean ground turkey
1 onion, diced
Taco seasoning (I make the Fixate one here and keep it on hand pretty much at all times!)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bag shredded cheddar
1 can black beans, drained rinsed & heated on stovetop
green onions, diced
plain non fat greek yogurt (a healthier substitute for sour cream!)
Any other healthy toppings you would like! (Did I miss any crucial ones??)
Tear Kale off of tough stalks into chip sized pieces, load onto large baking tray (tin foil optional underneath for easier clean up!). Your pan will be overflowing, but that’s ok – it will shrink when cooked. Optional – drizzle 1 Tablespoon olive oil over kale and then mix thoroughly with your hands.
Bake kale at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. While kale is cooking, brown turkey in pan with 1-2 teaspoons for taco seasoning, adding onion in the last few minutes to cook as well.
Remove kale from oven, spread out as needed and top with cooked turkey mixture, black beans and cheese. This makes approximately 3-4 servings, so I measure out the cheese in my blue portion fix container for the amount of servings so I don’t overdo it.
Pop back in the oven until cheese is melted, approximately 5 more minutes- watch to make kale chips aren’t blackening (mine got a little crispy, as you can see below, ha!) Add tomatoes, green onions, avocado, cilantro and a dollop of greek yogurt. Enjoy!
There are a lot of variations of this floating around. But THIS one is by far the easiest, it still tastes great and is most likely one of the healthiest!
1-2 packs of chicken of your choice. I used 2 packets boneless chicken tenderloin, but really any kind would work, boneless or not!
1 bottle Annie’s organic original BBQ sauce (picked up at my local grocery store)
2 small sweet potatoes
Dump chicken in crockpot with 1/2 cup of Annie’s original BBQ sauce, cook 8-10 hours on low or half the time on high (for those of you who forget you are doing a crockpot dinner until after lunch. That kind of poor planning only happens to me like 3/4 times). I have made sauce myself before…I love the ingredients in Annie’s though – and it just makes it all that much easier and faster to throw in the crockpot! If you are using more than 2 lbs of chicken, you may want to increase your BBQ sauce allotment by 1/4 cup or so.
Scrub sweet potatoes, dry and poke a few times with a knife. Microwave approximately 6-8 minutes, or until it feels soft in the middle when stabbed with a knife. I realize this may sound a bit aggressive with the stabbing. But, the middle is the last to cook. So if you can feel if it’s not as soft as the exterior when you poke the knife in, cook another 1-2 minutes.
Shred chicken with fork. Cut sweet potatoes in half and top each half with 3/4 cup of the chicken mixture and an additional teaspoon of Annie’s BBQ sauce. Enjoy!
21 day fix portions: 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 teaspoon. If you are using large sweet potatoes, you may need to stick with 1/4 of the potato or just measure it out using your yellow container, to be precise.
We just got back from our first true family vacation. It was blissful in many ways, as it was our first trip to a specific destination aside from a few weekend getaways. We drove from North Carolina to Orlando, approximately an 8 hour ride for us. We went to Magic Kingdom, Legoland in Winter Haven (45 min from Orlando), and then on the way home we stopped on Amelia Island/Fernandino Beach for 2 nights to soak up some sand. Literally. Sand everywhere!
First off – we did not stay on Disney property. We are people on a budget over here, and a hotel room with 2 young kids sounds horrendous. Lights out at 8pm everyone! Yes, there are suites, but at a cost higher than we are willing to pay. We found an incredible 3 bedroom condo in Davenport on VRBO.com for $88/night plus cleaning fee/taxes. They actually have their own website too. I highly recommend it. It was an easy 15-20 minute traffic free drive to Magic Kingdom. We did Magic Kingdom 2 different days – Thursday and Saturday the first week in May. Thursday we were able to park very close and walk to the monorail location (we arrived around 8:15am, the park opened at 9am). It stopped at two Disney resorts on the way to the park, and would have been a quick ride except the monorail in front of us had technical problems so we got stuck on it for an extra 15 minutes. Saturday it was much busier and we had to take the tram from the parking lot to the monorail location(actually we took the ferry instead of the monorail this time, because we figured it would be a lot more crowded on the monorail with the resort pickups) to the entrance of Magic Kingdom. It was about a 10 minute ride, if that.
The condo was gorgeous and had nicer amenities and decor than most hotels. It’s in the Bahama Bay Resort, which is a Wyndham resort. There was a neighborhood pool in the courtyard behind our condo. There was a playground in a grassy area at the other side of the condo. It was a 2 minute walk to the clubhouse pool and splash pad (which was fantastic). A 3 minute drive (or 10 minute walk) to the on site restaurant, pool and beach area (Tiki thatch huts for shade, lounge chairs with cushions, white sand, poolside drinks – it bordered Lake Davenport, which has alligators, so no swimming, it was fenced off). There was a pier for fishing and a walking/jogging trail that circled the complex. We will absolutely stay here again. My son loved the star wars themed bedroom!
I looked into the dining reservations at Disney, but there wasn’t a ton available because I was booking a few weeks before our trip…and $30/person for breakfast with the characters just didn’t seem to be worth it. Seriously, my kids were not going to care. My daughter loves her some Minnie & Mickey, but we had a FastPass to see Mickey and we were going to see Minnie as well. Which we did, she loved them, and we saved a boatload of money eating cereal at the condo vs cereal at a buffet (which my son would have picked. He loves cereal).
As a result of our budget/lack of planning choices, we packed a small cooler with turkey sandwiches/fruit/raw veggies/snacks/water and took it with us to Magic Kingdom and Legoland all 3 days. I had a small backpack I used as well for additional snacks (you can never have too many!) We did buy ice cream in the park as an afternoon pick me up. Gotta get the Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich!!
A friend told me about the Disney App and Fastpasses, and it was fantastic to be able to use the app to check lines and see what we scheduled for our day. We didn’t make it past 3pm either day at Magic Kingdom, both kids were dragging (one was asleep) and my 5 year old was ready to chill out and hit the pool at the condo.
We also did meal prep for those 3 nights so we wouldn’t have to eat out. For budgeting and also health reasons, but also the fact that eating out with 2 tired kids isn’t that relaxing for us. There were a few charcoal grills in the complex, so we made turkey burgers one night paired with a simple cucumber/tomato/goat cheese salad I had made at home before we left.
Another night we did tacos – ground turkey meat with homemade taco seasoning I brought along, with a bag of shredded cheddar, lettuce wraps and tomato. I forgot the salsa. Whoops. All I had to do was brown the meat for that meal so not too much prep.
The last dinner I sauteed some chicken sausage with squash and cauliflower rice. I was getting tired of cooking dinner on vacation at this point, but fortunately this was the last meal I had to cook and it was pretty easy.
We went to Legoland on Friday in between the Magic Kingdom days and it was perfectly planned, if I do say so myself. Legoland was line-free and not crowded at all. The rides were slow, but that’s how my kids like them. The Knight’s Joust was my 5 year old’s favorite. The weather was cooler and felt wonderful. We also got to meet Kai, the Ninja Lego dude, and get his picture with him and he picked out a small lego set for his souvenir. We caught a Pirate Water show, played with legos in the Imagination Center and the Duplos area was perfect for my 2 year old! The Lego themed carousel was also pretty cute and both kids enjoyed it.
After the 3 nights of cooking in Orlando and our last day in Magic Kingdom the following day, we headed north to Amelia Island for our next 2 nights (about 3 hours away). We stopped and ate at a Ruby Tuesday’s on the way and arrived early evening. We had a fabulous beach day the next day (we were there from 9:30am-2pm!), during which we ate lunch at Sliders which was right next to the beach. Then we headed into downtown Fernandino Beach for the Shrimp Festival, which we had just learned was happening that weekend! Of course Shea fell asleep in her stroller immediately after our arrival at the festival, so we opted to enjoy dinner in air conditioning at The Salty Pelican. They had a limited menu due to the festival and I was reminded why I don’t eat fries. It tastes so good when it hits your lips!! But awful afterwards, blech.
We returned back to the condo and hit the pool, which was right next to our building. The sun was dipping below the trees and the water was a bit chilly. After about 20 minutes of shivering we returned to the condo for bedtime!
It was sad to have to pack up and head back the next day (Monday). We packed our last lunch and headed home, stopping in Savannah’s Forsythe Park along the way. It was a beautiful park, we saw the famed fountain and we played at the playground for a bit, but the beauty was marred by the somewhat aggressively talking homeless population loitering around the Cafe, which was right next the playground. There were also quite a few napping under shade trees. I don’t know why this was unexpected for me as it’s a city. Duh. I guess because I don’t see homeless in the suburbs where we live and I don’t get into Charlotte parks all that often. I’m a sucker for spanish moss though and there was plenty of it in Forsythe Park and the playground was pretty fantastic. Perfect for burning a little energy before hopping in the car for 4 more hours!
All in all – it was a fabulous trip. I’m hoping we can do it again in 2-3 more years! What are your Disney adventures? Did you go anywhere else on your trip?
We do a lot of road trips around here! We live in NC and both of our families live 8-10 hours away (PA & NJ) so we drive up to see them usually twice a year, if not more. We also had some family meet ups in Virginia the past year, which was nice – only about 5-6 hours. With 2 kids (2 and 5) we drive a normal size SUV. So our vehicle is PACKED to the max when we travel.
I usually have barely any foot space as we end up putting a small cooler, a bag of snacks and a bag of entertainment at my feet. I could put these items on the floor at the kid’s feet, and then I’d end up doing 50 back and neck twists by the end of the drive…so I sacrifice the foot space vs the aggravated back.
My kids basically require a snack every five minutes in the car. Do yours or is it just mine? Snack! Snack! Snack! And I really just don’t give a toot after a few hours in the car, pretty much anything goes at that point. I do try to pack some healthy snacks but, I also don’t really want them having to go to the bathroom if I load them up with fruit SO we do have quite a bit of salty snacky things. Goldfish are the special treat we get for road trips as I don’t really buy them on a normal basis at home (I read an article about how terrible they are, probably on Facebook. Yeah, I know they are probably fine. They eat enough in the road trips to make up for it anyways).
So I generally use a semi-structured bag, reusable grocery bag or Trader Joe’s paper bag and carefully pack all snacks in a neat and tidy order. By the end of the ride that thing is a disorderly crumpled intermingled mess and I am digging through it to find what I want and crushing the stray goldfish and pretzels in my annoyance.
Well. Not this time. I present to you, the compartmental travel snack bag (aka the 6 pack wine holder). For a shorter trip, a 6 pack beer holder would probably also work quite wonderfully.
There is a gap at the bottom between the compartments in my bag, which I stuffed with a few individual packets of veggie straws (which are basically like pillows. They have a lot of air to protect that precious cargo inside, one would presume). Then each compartment got it’s snacks.
I’m pretty pleased with this idea. And I’d love to hear what you do for road trips when space in your vehicle is limited! What are your mom hacks??