How To Join Take Back The Kitchen

If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, then you’ve probably seen Jake and I share about our Take Back The Kitchen Community! This is a brand new branch of our online fitness and nutrition business that we launched in August!
We NEVER expected it to blow up at quickly as it has, but we now have over 1,500 Take Back The Kitchen Monthly Members!
As a busy mom of 4, I was always overwhelmed when it came to planning out our meals for the week. Most weeks, I didn’t have time to do it, so it resulted us racing to the grocery store multiple times a week or stopping somewhere to grab take out or fast food. I knew I could do better when it came to feeding my family nutritious meals, but at the same time didn’t know when I could possibly find time in my schedule to make it a priority.
The ONE thing that has been constant for me over the past couple of years in helping me to stay on track with my nutrition even when it gets busy has been my superfood smoothie called Shakeology. When our company launched a 3-in-1 kids’ smoothie called Daily Sunshine to accompany it this summer, I knew I had to figure out how I could get this incredible product into as many homes as possible.
Jake and I started brainstorming about ways we could not only help families add a nutritious smoothie, but also how we could take it a step further and truly help families prioritize nutrition at EVERY MEAL!
We hired a Registered Dietitian, Monica Hoss, to provide us with healthy, family friendly, easy-to-prepare weekly recipes PLUS a grocery list to go with them, and Take Back The Kitchen was born!
As a member of our Take Back The Kitchen community, you will receive the following each month: 

Monthly Membership Includes:

+ 4 Weeks of Healthy Family Friendly Menus from a Registered Dietitian!

+ Complete grocery lists delivered to your inbox every Friday!

+ Meal Prep Tips from our Registered Dietitian that you can do over the weekend to make your week run smoother!

+ Daily Access to a Registered Dietitian who you can ask questions to SO you can learn how to help your picky eaters try healthy foods!

+ A month’s supply of Shakeology (adult superfoods meal replacement smoothie) AND/OR Daily Sunshine (kid approved 3-in-1 smoothie that includes a serving of fruits/veggies, healthy fats, and plant based protein)! 

+A community of women who are going through the same struggles you are! You’ll be able to share what’s working, what isn’t working, and know that you’re not alone! 

+Access to a small group led by me, your Family Nutrition Ambassador, to help you stay on track and accountable to actually make the meals and help you family make progress! 

The ONLY purchase that’s required to become a Take Back The Kitchen Member is a month’s order of Shakeology and/or Daily Sunshine. Like I’ve mentioned before, as crazy as it might sound, making this purchase has actually SAVED me money overall because I’m saving SO much at the grocery store and at restaurants! I used to go to the store without much of a plan, and over the course of the week between going the grocery store multiple times and grabbing take out or fast food, we were spending way more money on food than we needed to.

Since incorporating Take Back The Kitchen, my weekly grocery bills have been around $130 – $150 for a family of 6 and that INCLUDES the Shakeology and Daily Sunshine I buy for my family.

What is Shakeology? 

Shakeology is an adult formulated premium superfood shake containing healthy ingredients, including super-proteins, super-fruits, super-greens, antioxidants, adaptogen herbs, pre and pro-biotics, and digestive enzymes. The amazing benefits come from herbs, roots, fruits, and vegetables that range from the commonly known, like pomegranate and blueberry, to the exotic, like goji berry and maca root. These incredible whole food ingredients from around the world are uncooked and unprocessed, making them easily digestible in our bodies. I never thought I’d be a shake person. I tried it, and I’ve been drinking Shakeology daily for over two years now. I can’t begin to tell you how much it helps me to stay on track. It gives me the energy I need, has helped to curb my cravings for junk food, and is an easy way to get a meal in when I’m busy! Time and time again, my clients who incorporate Shakeology into their diet are hands down more successful than the ones who don’t! I look at drinking Shakeology as my daily vitamins. It fills in the cracks nutritionally! We have seven different flavors! We even have VEGAN options.

If you happen to be breastfeeding, I’d recommend checking with your doctor about Shakeology! My doctor was very excited about it, and I have several nursing mommas who have actually noticed a slight increase in production while drinking it because of the additional vitamins and minerals! (I recommend the vegan formulas to my breastfeeding clients.) 

What is Daily Sunshine

Daily Sunshine is our BRAND NEW whole-food-based 3 in 1 smoothie formulated for kids’ nutritional needs. It’s not intended to be a meal replacement, but rather a quick healthy alternative to junk food snacks. It’s available in Chocolate and Strawberry Banana. My kids LOVE it. We’ve been having it for an after school snack, turning it into popsicles or a fun smoothie which they think is ice cream! It’s not JUST for kids. I happen to drink it every single day for MY snack too! The Strawberry Banana is my favorite! I shake it up with ice and water and head out the door! It’s the perfect on-the-go snack. 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?  

Shakeology and Daily Sunshine each retail at $130 for customers. However, if you’re interested in becoming a Family Nutrition Ambassador, there’s a 25% discount.

As a Family Nutrition Ambassador, you can simply enjoy the discounts and leave it at that, or you can share Take Back The Kitchen with others and receive a 25% discount any time they order Shakeology and/or Daily Sunshine. If you help 3 people join Take Back The Kitchen in a month, you’d have your Shakeology and/or Daily Sunshine paid for! 

If you think you might be interested in incorporating workouts as well at some point, I’d also recommending purchasing Beachbody On Demand which is an app that works like Netflix for Fitness. If you purchase it with Shakeology you can get it for just $30 (normally $99).

There’s a package called The All Access Beachbody On Demand + Shakeology Challenge Pack: $160 (regularly $199)

What’s Included: 

1) 1-Year Membership to Beachbody On Demand (BOD) with all content included, plus new future releases. You can stream them anywhere with a wi-fi connection! I never use DVDs anymore because the BOD app is so much more convenient.
2) Shakeology (choice of 30-day supply on Home Direct)
3) Portion Fix (includes 7-piece portion control container set, eating guide, large blue container & shaker cup)

If you’d like to order as a customer, simply click on my website and place your order! http://www.teambeachbody.com/amberkuiper2

If you’d like to join as a Family Nutrition Ambassador and receive the 25% discount on all future orders, go to my website, click on Coach, then Be A Coach, and it will walk you through the steps. I recommend purchasing the All Access Challenge Pack for $160, which will waive the $39.95 enrollment fee. Each month after, as a Family Nutrition Ambassador you will receive 25% off Shakeology and/or Daily Sunshine orders. You will see a $15.95 coach fee, but even with that fee you will still be saving money! Should you decide to cancel your membership, you can cancel at any time without penalty. No strings attached. http://www.teambeachbody.com/amberkuiper2

IMPORTANT: 

If you already have an active Beachbody coach, please stick with them! Simply put in a request that you’d like them to offer something like this too! If you’ve purchased from Beachbody in the past under a different coach who is no longer active, before you order you’ll have to request that I’m your official coach! You can do this by calling 1-800- 240-0913 or going here https://faq.beachbody.com/app/ask/lob/team and including my coach ID which is 1063999 and the email associated with my account which is amber@koinoniaathletic.com. After you fill out the form you can place your order!

CONFIRMATION

After your order is placed, simply fill out this form and I will send you next week’s menu IMMEDIATELY! You will continue to receive them for the next 5 weeks! You MUST fill out this form. If you don’t fill this out, you will not be added to the email list. 

https://goo.gl/forms/oxKEQ2HWcPBVk6nD2

We have a special going on right now – if you register by this morning at 10amcst, you will receive 5 weeks of menus and grocery lists instead of 4! 

Please let me know if you have ANY questions! I’m so excited to encourage you and your sweet family through this process! 

xo,

Amber 

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Cinco De Mayo The Skinny Way

We’re back from wine country, and settled back into normal life. I’ll be sharing a recap of our entire trip soon!

In the meantime, I’m excited to celebrate Cinco De Mayo! Since becoming a mom, I’ve learned that celebrating holidays like this is a great way to break up the week and add a little something special to look forward to.

Preschool Express has some really cute Cinco De Mayo crafts for the kiddos!

I thought I’d share a few tips about how we plan to celebrate Cinco De Mayo this year by keeping it on the “skinny” side.

Our favorite Mexican food to make at home are fajitas. They’re pretty healthy, and our local grocery store (Jerry’s Foods) actually has fajita flavored meat and peppers ready to go in the meat department, so we just pick it up, throw it on the grill, and into our fajitas. Top with pico de gallo, lettuce, a little cheese, and some plain greek yogurt (to replace sour cream), and we’ve got a delicious meal.

The kids aren’t into fajitas, so I throw together some quick chicken and cheese quesadillas for them. In order to refrain from snacking on half a bag of tortilla chips while I do so, I usually try to have a healthier snack while prepping. Per usual, FLYJOY is a go to.

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Cinco de Mayo isn’t complete without a good margarita, but I’m going to try to keep it skinny with this recipe from my FIXATE cookbook!

(photo c/o Making It With Danielle)

Skinny Margarita

Skinny Margarita

Ingredients: 2 – 3 fresh lime wedges, 2 – 3 fresh orange wedges, 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, 1/2 tsp. honey, 1 cup ice, 1 oz. 100% agave tequila, 1 splash sweet & sour mixer

Instructions: Place lime wedges, orange wedges, lime juice, and honey in the bottom of a serving glass; muddle until well mixed. Top with ice, tequila, and mixer. Stir to mix. Garnish with a  lime slice.

I’m guessing I may need more than one of these little guys, but it’s definitely a healthier alternative! 🙂

Adios!

xo,

Amber

*This post is brought to you by FLYJOY, who produces amazing quinoa energy bars, and also has a heart for others, giving back and making a difference in the world we live in. A portion of the proceeds of each bar goes to HOPE International to fund small business loans and business training to help break the cycle of poverty and empower others in developing countries. You can find out more about the countries where HOPE works HERE.

Visit FLYJOY.com for 20% off your first order! 

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), Periscope (@AmberMKuiper), and Snapchat: amberkuiper

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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Best Ever Banana Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

IMG_9082Most days, in order to get my work done most efficiently, I’ll leave the house for a few hours and land at a coffee shop. We live in Woodbury, MN, where we have Starbucks and Caribous coming out our ears. Last I counted there were 8 Starbucks within a 4 mile radius! You guys know I love me some Starbucks, LOVE it, but there’s something nice about local coffee shops too. Our local shop is called Brix Coffee and it just may be the best hidden gem in our area.

In addition to having amazing coffee, they specialize in crepes and custard that’s to die for. The atmosphere is friendly, laid back, and their music playlist is always on point. I frequent there weekly if not twice a week, and it’s always the perfect environment to crank out some solid work.

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A few months back, I was hungry for a snack, so I tried one of their protein bars, which are homemade. I now grab one almost every time I’m in there. One day I got to talking with Mara, telling her how awesome I thought they were! Turns out she does a lot of the baking there, and after she told me all the ingredients in them, I realized just how healthy they were.

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Right then and there I knew I had to share the recipe with you. They generously shared it with me, and I’m SO excited for you to make them! My kids love them too! They taste like dessert, and are perfect to have on hand when you want to eat ALL THE CHOCOLATE. Pin this one, you guys, because you’re gonna be looking it up time and time again!

BEST EVER BARS

Brix Coffee Banana Chocolate Chip Protein Bars (recipe c/o Brix Coffee)

Ingredients:

-3 3/4 cups old fashioned oats

-3 cups cooked quinoa

-3/4 cup honey

-1 cup water

-3/4 cup coconut oil

-6 bananas, mashed

-3 tablespoons vanilla

-3 teaspoons baking powder

-1 1/2 teaspoons salt

-3 tablespoons flax meal

-1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes

-1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions: Mix all ingredients together & fold in chocolate chips. Bake at 250 for 30 – 45 minutes or until golden brown. Store in an airtight container in the fridge!

Let me know how they turn out! And if you’re local, be SURE to stop by Brix!

They have $2 off crepes on Mondays, $1 coffee on Thursdays, and live music on Saturdays from 6 – 8 when they also have $2 off crepes!

Hope to see you there sometime!

xo,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), Periscope (@AmberMKuiper), and Snapchat: amberkuiper

You can also follow my healthy living journey on Instagram: (@amberkuiperfitness) or on Facebook (Amber Kuiper Fitness).

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Kuiper Family Menu: December 14 – 20, 2015

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Happy Sunday, everybody! Many of you know that my family and I started on a journey to healthy living in March of this year. Prior to that, we were in full on survival mode, ordering take-out several times a week and eating carbs, carbs, and more carbs. And before bedtime every night? There was ice cream or cookies or something else sweet. We justified it because “it was just a season of life” and “all we had time for.” But I’ve learned over the past few months that it’s actually possible to eat healthy with minimal time!

One of the keys to eating healthy has been meal planning. And since I’m not a cook, the even bigger key has been to KEEP IT SIMPLE. I’m not spending hours cooking every day, because let’s be honest, I’m lucky if I get 20 minutes in the kitchen before my kids start hanging all over my legs.

Since I’m planning my meals anyway, I thought it’d be fun to start sharing them with you all every Sunday!

Monday

Breakfast: Frozen waffles with peanut butter & eggs

Lunch: Shakeology for me, deli turkey, veggie, and fruit for the kids

Dinner: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup (adapted from Potentially Lovely)

-1/2 cup chopped onion

-1 teaspoon minced garlic (I buy mine in a jar from Target)

-3 cups low sodium chicken broth

-1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

-1/8 cup cilantro

-1 15 oz can black beans

-1 14 oz can diced tomatoes

-2 cups frozen corn kernels

-1 tsp cumin

-1/2 tsp ground oregano

-5 – 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Line slow cooker with a plastic liner for easy clean up. Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Remove chicken from soup and shred (I do this with my KitchenAid mixer). Return to slow cooker and serve! Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Yogurt parfaits (greek yogurt, sliced bananas, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, old fashioned oats)

Lunch: Shakeology for me, leftover chicken enchilada soup for the kids, plus some fruit and pretzels

Dinner: A bag of frozen steamable veggies, and meatballs

-2 lbs. ground beef

-1 cup old fashioned oats

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp pepper

-1/2 teaspoon minced onion

-1 teaspoon dried basil

-1 teaspoon oregano leaves

-2 eggs

-1/2 cup milk

Heat over to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and grease it with cooking spray. Mix all ingredients and shape into meatballs. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes!

Wednesday

Breakfast: Frozen whole grain waffle with peanut butter and sugar free jelly for the kids, eggs

Lunch: Shakeology for me, Applegate All Beef Hot Dogs, veggie straws and fruit for the kids

Dinner: Slow Cooker Beef & Carrots

-1 beef roast, frozen

-1 – 2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut to bite size

-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

-2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

-salt & pepper

Line slow cooker with plastic liner for easy clean up. Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Add enough water until half the roast is submerged, this helps it to stay extra moist. Cook on low 10 – 12 hours, or until it easily comes apart with a fork.

Thursday

Breakfast: Oatmeal with peanut butter, raisins, and bananas

Lunch: Shakeology for me, leftover roast, veggies, and fruit for the kids

Dinner: Steamed broccoli, grilled skinless boneless chicken breasts on the grill

Friday

Breakfast: Yogurt parfaits (greek yogurt, sliced bananas, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, old fashioned oats)

Lunch: Shakeology for me, leftover chicken, veggies, and fruit for the kids

Dinner: Slow Cooker Pizza (adapted from Healthy Feels Happy)

-1 lb browned ground beef or turkey seasoned with 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder

-1 15 oz jar pizza sauce

-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

-2/3 cup parmesan cheese

-3 cups fresh spinach

-Turkey pepperoni

-1/2 green pepper, chopped

-1/2 cup chopped sweet onion

-1/4 cup artichoke hearts, chopped

-1 tsp minced garlic

  1. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey with sauce and onions. Place half of sauce mixture in the bottom of a 6 quart crock pot.
  2. Place half of fresh spinach on top of sauce mixture.
  3. Place pepperoni and 1/2 desired toppings on top.
  4. Place half of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese on top of toppings.
  5. Repeat layers ending with mozzarella and Parmesan.
  6. Cook on low 4-6 hours.
  7. Let cool slightly and cut into 8 slices. Refrigerate remaining.

Saturday

Breakfast: Cold cereal

Lunch: Shakeology for Jake and me, deli turkey, veggies, and fruit for the kids

Dinner: ANNIVERSARY DATE NIGHT! (Kids will eat Annie’s mac & cheese)

Sunday

Breakfast: Cold cereal

Lunch: Out for lunch at Chipotle or Jersey Mike’s

Dinner: Any leftovers we haven’t eaten/breakfast for dinner!

And that’s it! Planning ahead is KEY for us staying on track!

I hope that helps! I’d love to hear what your go-to healthy simple meals!

Have a wonderful week!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@ambermkuiper), Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time), and Periscope (@AmberMKuiper).

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Homemade Pizza Lunchables

IMG_0617When it comes to lunchtime, I’m all about making it kid friendly and easy, because any mom knows that when the hunger comes we have approximately 60 seconds to fill their plates. Popular items on our menu rotation include peanut butter and jelly, Annie’s mac and cheese, Earth’s Best fish and chicken nuggets, and Applegate hot dogs. Add to those sides of fruits and veggies and we’re golden.

Then there are always those occasions when we’re out and about running mid-day errands and I grab something to go. In a few cases, I’ve opted for pizza Lunchables which were an immediate hit. I couldn’t believe how quickly Baylen scarfed down all three pizzas. AND, he thought it was the coolest thing ever that he got to put on his own toppings. It’s so cute watching him carefully sprinkle on the cheese!IMG_0594Happy that I found a new lunch option, but not so happy about the preservatives and extra money that accompanied the Lunchables, I decided to experiment and go the homemade route.

It turns out these are the easiest and cheapest things to make at home! It’s also an awesome indoor activity for the kids to help with! Baylen had a ball rolling the dough.IMG_0578Basically, all you need to do is use a favorite pizza dough recipe and take a few minutes to bake tiny pizzas ahead of time. I’m pretty excited about these and will most definitely be adding them to the rotation. If you have school aged kids, I’d imagine this would be a fun thing to fill their lunch boxes with! On the flip side, if you have babies who are venturing into the solids realm, these are a great option too. My 10 month olds love them!IMG_0608

Homemade Pizza Lunchables (makes about 36 mini-pizzas)JJzp3o1391028109

Ingredients: 

(For the dough)

-4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (2 packets)

-1/2 tsp sugar

-1 1/2 cups warm water

-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

-1 tsp salt

(For on top)

-pizza sauce

-shredded cheese

-additional preferred toppings

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes. Add flour and salt and mix to form dough. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Roll out with a rolling pin until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Use a glass or cookie cutter to form the size and shapes of the pizzas you’d like.IMG_0585 Place pizzas on baking sheet and poke with a fork to prevent air pockets.IMG_0586Bake for 5 minutes. Remove, let cool and serve. Store extras in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

I hope your sweeties enjoy them as much as mine do!IMG_0592

XOXO,

Amber

 

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How To Roast A Spaghetti Squash

IMG_0314It’s Wednesday January 15th! I’ve been looking forward to this day for a few months now, because today is launch day for Twin Cities Moms Blog! I mentioned a while back that I’m a contributor, which means I’m on a team with about 15 other ladies from around the Twin Cities who will be sharing all sorts of topics that moms are interested in. I would love if you’d head over and take a peak at the opening post as well as my post about 30 Ways To Encourage A New Mom and all the other fabulous posts that have already been published by our talented team!

Another reason why this isn’t just any other Wednesday is because it marks the half-way point of the Whole30 challenge I’m doing. I still really like how it’s making me feel. I don’t seem to have those middle of the day slumps like I used to, but instead my energy levels seem to be more steady throughout the day. I decided to add some dairy back in. I don’t see dairy being a problem for me and wanted to start incorporating it so that I’m more likely to continue many of these habits after the challenge is over.

As a pasta lover, I’m missing it. But, thankfully I’ve been keeping my pantry stocked with spaghetti squash which has been a healthy and delicious substitute. I usually cook one up during nap time and eat it over the next couple of days for lunch. (Except for the time I ate a whole squash in a day.) I keep it simple and add some tomato sauce, oregano, basil, rosemary, or whatever sounds good. In the picture I added pine nuts as well. If you’re looking for a healthy lunch that leaves you feeling satisfied, give this a go.

How To Roast A Spaghetti SquashIMG_03041. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut the squash in half length-wise.

3. Scoop out the seeds and discard.

4. Place the halves on a baking sheet with the cut sides up.

5. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the center and evenly brush it around. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Roast for 45 – 60 minutes, or until a fork punctures the “noodles” easily.

7. Remove from oven and let it cool for a couple minutes until you can comfortable touch it. Scrape the noodles out with a fork and place them in a bowl.

8. Add your desired seasonings and toppings and enjoy guilt free “pasta!” IMG_0308

Enjoy!

XOXO,

Amber

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Sweet Potato Hash Browns

It’s been crazy cold this week, and while I obviously wouldn’t want it to last forever, there’s been something cozy about the past few days as I’ve been holed up inside with the kids. Each morning I hop into my slippers, turn on the fireplace, haven’t been in any rush to get us out of our pajamas, and make everyone breakfast that warms our insides.We’re still going strong with our Whole30 challenge. Overall, I’m a big fan of how it makes me feel. If it weren’t for cheese, greek yogurt, wine, chocolate, and oatmeal, I’d probably be able to do it forever. 😉 But I know myself and I simply would never choose to give those things up long term. They’re too good! However, I’m loving the challenge of thinking out of the box, especially for breakfast. We’re allowed eggs, but no grains, so I’ve had to get creative (creative for me at least, who usually just pours cereal out of a box).IMG_0300These sweet potato hash browns only take about five minutes to make, and gosh are they good. They give me the sweet that I’m use to during breakfast time, and I can add in whatever I have in the fridge that sounds good with them. My favorite combination is pictured, which is just sweet potato hash browns, spinach, and an egg (or two) all cooked in coconut oil.

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Ingredients:

-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and grated

-sprinkle of cinnamon

-large handful of fresh spinach

-eggs

-1 Tablespoon coconut oil (or your oil of choice)

-sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Peel sweet potatoes and use a handheld kitchen grater to make them into hash browns. In a large skillet on the stove, melt a tablespoon of coconut oil on medium-low. Add potatoes, sprinkle with cinnamon, and fry until tender. Turn burner to low and add the spinach, meanwhile keeping the potatoes on one side of the skillet while you fry your eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Makes enough hash browns for 4 servings.

Enjoy and stay warm!

Love,

Amber

 

 

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Healthy Snack Idea: Banana Nut Salad

IMG_0274Jake and I are a day and a half into our Whole30 challenge and so far I’m enjoying the process of teaching my mind to be more intentional about the food choices I make. What I’ve come to realize is that I was doing quite a bit of mindless snacking through the day. Mostly when I was feeding the kids. I hardly ever run to the pantry to find a snack for myself, but when I gave the girls some Cheerios, I’d usually sneak a handful for myself. Or when Baylen had a few bites of his meal left, I’d finish it off for him. Or if I saw a sleeve of opened crackers on the counter I’d grab a couple. Yesterday I actually had to spit out a bite of Bay’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich because I didn’t realize it was in my mouth until Jake called me out on it!

I like the fact that I’m forcing my brain to put forth actual effort now when I want something to eat instead of munching on what’s convenient. I don’t know if I’ll document our meals every day, but here’s what we had yesterday to give you an idea of what we’re up to. It doesn’t feel restricting at all. We are able to eat as much as we want, but we’re eating quality food!

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with red and green peppers

Lunch: Mixed green salad with shaved turkey breast, kalamata olives, green olives, red onions, and italian vinaigrette.

Dinner: Meatballs and a side of broccoli

Our meals were delicious, but when night came I was craving my usual sweet bedtime snack. I simply couldn’t go to bed without something, so I whipped up this Banana Nut Salad. It was so tasty, and since I thought there may be more of you out there looking for healthy snacks to get the new year started off on the right foot, here it is!LIxjRO1388695447

Banana Nut Salad

-1 banana, sliced

-a small handful of cashews and almonds

-sprinkle of cinnamon

-sprinkle of unsweetened shredded coconut

Happy HEALTHY snacking!

Amber

Question: What are your go-to healthy snacks?

 

 

 

 

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Slow Cooker Ham Bone, Potato & Cheese Soup

IMG_0243 I mentioned yesterday that I made a ham for Christmas dinner. Since it was mainly just Jake and me eating it (with a few additional bites going to Baylen) we had lots of leftover meat. I kept the bone and decided to try my hand at making soup with it. I threw in a little of this and a little of that, and it ended up being pretty darn good. I’m inspired to make ham more often!

If you have some leftover ham in your fridge, here’s an easy peasy way to transform it into a new meal that you can serve to your family and guests this weekend. IMG_0248

Slow Cooker Ham Bone, Potato & Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

-1 ham bone with leftover meat or at least 2 cups chopped ham

-3 cups chicken broth

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-1 teaspoon minced onion

-1 teaspoon minced garlic

-2 cups chopped carrots

-8 – 10 medium sized potatoes, peeled and diced

-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

-16 oz Velveeta, sliced

-salt to taste

Directions: Place ham bone in crock pot and pour chicken stock overtop. Add water until the ham bone is completely covered. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, and carrots. Cook on high for 2 hours. Carefully remove ham bone and chop off leftover meat, and add it back into the broth. Add extra ham from the fridge if needed to reach a total of at least two cups. Add diced potatoes and cook on low for 3 hours or until the potatoes are soft. Add heavy whipping cream, Velveeta, and salt. Cook for an additional 30 minutes on low. Garnish with cheese and/or parsley. Makes enough to fill a large slow cooker.

Skinny version: You could easily leave out the heavy whipping cream and Velveeta, and it would still taste great! I’m just giving myself a little extra holiday freedom this week. 🙂

Enjoy your leftovers!

What do you usually make with leftover ham?!

Amber

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Zuppa Toscana Soup

IMG_9955Hi guys! I feel like so much has happened since our last visit, including a wonderful staycation that Jake and I got to have last weekend. My parents took the kids for a few days so we could get caught up on some things around the house that we haven’t had a chance to do since the girls were born, and also to have some time to rest and recharge. It was glorious. We did things that most parents of little people don’t get to do, like take a nap at 4:00 in the afternoon, stay out past 7pm, shop at the mall for more than 20 minutes, and go out for dinner to actual sit down restaurants three nights in a row. We also managed to clean out our entire storage room and transform it into a basement playroom for the kids. It was the perfect mix of productivity and relaxation. However, by Sunday morning we were more than ready to be reunited with our little loves. Our house was far too quiet without them!

Unfortunately, when they returned home their colds took a turn for the worse and after several visits to the doctor we found out that all three of them have double ear infections. Ugh! Thankfully we were able to get them on antibiotics before we leave for northern Wisconsin to visit Jake’s parents for Thanksgiving.IMG_9938

Jake and I haven’t been feeling our best either lately, and have been stuffed up with sore throats. Gosh, I hope this doesn’t last all winter! We were in the mood for a comfort food that was easy to swallow, so I recreated one of our favorite soups from Olive Garden. It was a cinch to make, and tastes exactly like the Zuppa Toscana they serve! I’m so excited to have discovered how to make it, since going out for endless soup and salad with three kids under three isn’t exactly in the cards for us these days.

If you want to bring a taste of Olive Garden home to your sweet family, give this a try! It would make for the perfect at-home date night!0p8nJr1385497177

Copycat Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Soup (Adapted from Food.com)

Ingredients: 

-1 lb. mild italian sausage

-4 cups chopped russet potatoes, skin on

-1 medium white onion, chopped

-1/4 cup bacon bits

-2 garlic cloves, minced (I buy a jar of minced garlic and used a teaspoon)

-4 cups kale, chopped

-2 (80z) cans chicken broth

-4 cups water

-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

-salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Brown the sausage in the soup pot. Drain. Add chicken broth and water to the pot and stir. Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot. Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Add bacon and crushed red pepper. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Turn to low heat. Add kale. Heat through and serve. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Enjoy! I hope your families are feeling better than we are this week! While we’re not on top of our game, there is still SO much to be thankful for! Happy Thanksgiving week, everybody!

What comfort foods do you make when your family’s under the weather? 

Love,

Amber

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