Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Easy Homemade Granola Bars (Gluten Free!)

I LOVE protein bars.  I always carry around a balance bar or luna bar for a quick breakfast, snack, or recovery after a workout.  Most protein and granola bars aren't exactly part of a "clean" diet though (not to mention, the price adds up fast).  I decided to try making my own homemade, gluten free granola bars using all natural ingredients I had at home.  I discovered this recipe on My Whole Food Life and adapted it for my tastes and to be gluten free.  I love the way these bars turned out!  They taste like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie without all the added sugar and fat.  I put them into snack bags, which makes them easy to grab and go when I need a quick snack.  Try this recipe for a clean, healthy snack your whole family will love.

Easy Homemade Granola Bars

2 1/2 cups gluten free oats (I used Udi's Granola because that's what I had on hand and it turned out great!)
1 mashed banana
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup raw honey
2 Tablespoons almond milk
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons dark chocolate chips or craisins

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl.

3.  Mash banana and combine in sauce pan with peanut butter, honey and milk.  Stir until combined and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes (or until ingredients are smooth).

4.  Add peanut butter mixture in with the dry ingredients and mix well.

5.  Pour into a 9 x 13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.

6.  Once the granola is cooled, cut into bars and put into snack bags.

*This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found on My Whole Food Life

-What are your favorite quick snacks?
-What other flavors/types of bars would you like to see?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WIAW: Saucy Peach Balsamic Chicken

When Scott and I first got married (almost 3 years ago!) the only things I really knew how to cook were pasta and chicken tacos.  I wanted to start learning to cook yummy dinners but I wanted to start slowly with easy recipes.  Scott's grandma gave me this chicken recipe and it was one of the first recipes I tried that was so easy and super delicious.  I love the sweet and savory combination of the peachs with balsamic vinegar.  This is a perfect recipe to make when you need something that everyone will love but can be thrown together quickly.  Try this for dinner tonight!

Saucy Peach Balsamic Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup sherry or additional chicken broth
1/3 cup peach preserves
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tsp minced fresh tarragon
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, brown chicken on both sides in olive oil.  Remove from the skillet and keep warm.

2.  Add broth and sherry to the skillet, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.  Stir in the preserves, garlic and tarragon.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in vinegar.  

3.Return chicken to the skillet; cover and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees.  

4.  I love to serve this with rice and steamed broccoli but it's so versatile that it would taste great with any other side dish too.  

Be sure to check out Peas and Crayons for more healthy recipes! 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Clean Eating Grocery List

As I explained in my last few blog posts, Scott and I have decided to get back into clean eating this month.  We've been eating more processed food lately and we've both noticed that we don't have as much energy or felt as well as we used to.  (When I say we were eating processed food, I don't mean that we were eating McDonalds everyday.  We've still been eating pretty healthy but we've just had more packaged food around the house.)  Over the weekend we cleaned out our pantry and fridge and got rid of all of our "junk food".  We went shopping together and stocked up on fresh produce, whole grains, and lean meat.  Our pantry went from this:

To this: 

Our clean eating plan is basically just eating as much whole, fresh food as possible.  I did a lot of research on clean eating diets and came up with a shopping list that worked for us.  Here's my shopping list (you can obviously change it as much as you need to your for tastes):

So far our clean eating plan has gone pretty well.  I love eating this way because it doesn't feel like a diet.  I'm eating whole, natural food throughout the day and I never feel hungry.  I've found a lot of new recipes lately that I'm excited to try out and share with all of you.  Scott says he likes eating this way too, although, when he got home from work today he looked at me with a guilty face and admitted he had eaten 3 chocolate chip cookies with lunch haha.  We're slowly easing into the clean eating challenge and we aren't completely giving up treats.  I've found a lot of yummy clean dessert recipes lately that I'm excited to try out.  Tonight I'm going to make these clean peanut butter banana bites (because you just can't go wrong with a peanut butter, banana, chocolate combo!)

-Do you have any healthy foods you would add to my list?
-What are your favorite healthy snacks or treats?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

3/2 Weekly Meal and Fitness Plan

Today has been one of those days when the weather makes me want to just curl up with a blanket and good book in my bed all day.  It's been cold, rainy and windy all day here (I seriously can't wait for summer!).  When the weather is like this, planning ahead really helps me to stay on track with being healthy.  Scott and I are also trying to be better at clean eating.  We've always stuck to pretty healthy meals overall but lately, we've been eating more snacks and processed food during the day.  We've noticed that we've had less energy and haven't been as active.  We're going to be doing a clean eating challenge together this month.  Today I started planning ahead for my first week of completely clean dinners.

Meal Plan:

I hang this menu bored on my fridge.  I love it because it helps me stay
organized with meal planning and it helps my hubby know what's planned for dinner
so he can start it if he gets home before me. ;) 

Monday:  Peach Balsamic Chicken (I know I spelled it wrong on my menu board.  Oops!)  I love this recipe- it's one of those recipes that is really simple to make but tastes like it came out of a restaurant.  I'll post the recipe soon for everyone.  

Tuesday:  Tilapia (I'll probably sauté it in a pan with a little olive oil and this seasoning.  I know it's for chicken but it's so good on tilapia.)

Wednesday:  Chicken Potato Bake (This looks like such a yummy clean recipe!  I can't wait to try it.)

Thursday:  Lemon Ricotta Scallops with brown rice pasta

Friday:  Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas (Thank you Pinterest for all of these awesome recipes!)

Saturday:  Grilled Jerk Shrimp

Fitness Plan:
Monday:  3 mile run followed by this  30 min. pilates workout

Tuesday:  Strength training- arms and abs

Wednesday:  3 mile run and my favorite ab workout (I highly recommend fitness blender workouts if you're looking for a free at home training program.  They are certified personal trainers and they have a huge variety of workouts.  I really love that the workouts are to the point and not gimmicky.) 

Thursday:  Strength training- glutes and legs

Friday:  Rest day

Saturday:  Run and play sports with Scott

Sunday:  Rest day

-Do you have any yummy recipes or fun workouts planned for this week?  Share in the comments below.  I always love new ideas and support. :) 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Weekend Ramblings: I'm Back!

Hi everyone!  I can't believe it's been over a month since I've posted on this blog.  I've been really busy lately with work and it's forced me to go on a little blogging hiatus for a while.  (For those of you who don't know, I work as a special education teacher assistant and I recently took on a second job as a child development specialist.  Work and life has been keeping me very busy.)  A few weeks ago I thought I might have to give up this blog all together because I just didn't have the time to keep it up.  Then I started getting emails from readers asking why I haven't been posting and encouragement to keep writing future posts.  I also received emails from sponsors about future opportunities for my blog.  All of the love and support I've been getting has motivated me to keep writing and to make time for blogging.  I really do love blogging as a hobby and I'm excited to start sharing recipes, workouts, and healthy living tips with all of you again.

One of the exciting emails I got while I was taking a break from blogging was from Laura Williams, the creator of Girls Gone Sporty to tell me that I have been accepted as an ambassador for their website!  As an ambassador I will be given the opportunity to be a guest writer on their website, do giveaways and reviews for sponsors, and network with other ambassadors.  I'm so excited and hopefully I'll be able to do some reviews and giveaways for all of you soon!

Over the last few weeks, Scott and I have also decided it's time for a lifestyle change.  We've always been pretty healthy as a couple but lately we've been eating more processed food and have been less active than we usually are when the weather is warm.  For the month of March we're going to do a 30 day clean eating challenge together.   A clean diet is sticking to whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.  We're cutting out all processed food and refined sugar.  Today we cleaned out our pantry and fridge and did a "clean eating haul" to stock up on fresh produce.  I'll be sharing more details about our challenge and recipes with you all on the blog over the next month.  

I hope you all are having a fabulous weekend!

-Do you eat a "clean diet" or have you ever tried it?
-What are your favorite websites and recipes for clean eating? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

1/20 Weekly Meal and Fitness Plan

Happy Monday everyone!  Do any of you get the day off of work today?  If you do, hope you have a relaxing 3 day weekend!  I was going to have today off but I got called into work at my second job.  At least I only have to work a few hours though.  Since starting my second job, I've had a difficult time getting back into a good workout routine and finding the motivation to exercise in the mornings.  Planning out my meal plans and workout schedule really helps me to stay on track with a healthy lifestyle.  Here's my meal and fitness plan for this week.  

Meal Plan:

Monday:  Honey Lime Shrimp with Jasmine rice (I make this recipe a lot because it's so quick, easy, and delicious!)

Tuesday:  Baked Cornflake Chicken with sweet potato fries (I'll post a recipe this week)

Wednesday:  Mexican Tilapia (pour salsa over tilapia, sprinkle with a little cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes) with roasted veggies

Thursday:  Gluten Free Crockpot Lasagna (one of my favorites and it's SO easy!)

Friday:  Chicken Tacos and salad

Saturday:  Date night :)

Sunday:  Breakfast for dinner

Fitness Plan:

Monday:  Trail HIIT Run (We have had freakishly warm weather here for January!  It's supposed to be 57 degrees today and it's usually freezing with lots of snow this time of year.  I'm not complaining though, I'll take the warm over the cold any day.)

Tuesday:  HIIT Cardio and Abs Workout (I discovered Fitness Blender videos recently and am obsessed!  They are free and always give me a great workout.)

Wednesday:  30 minute elliptical, 30 minute weight training

Thursday:  Another fitness blender workout

Friday:  rest day

Saturday:  Play sports with Scott (usually we play basketball, tennis, or ultimate frisbee with friends)

Hope you all have a great week!  
-What are your fitness or meal plans for the week?  
-Have you found any online workout programs you like to use?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Weekend Ramblings: Finding Balance

Hi friends!  It has definitely been way too long since I've posted on this blog!  A lot of exciting things have been going on in my life right now and it's been keeping me busy.  Over Christmas break I spent a lot of time with Scott, my family, and friends.  We went on a fun family trip to Utah and I got to see my big sister who lives there.  I had a lot of fun but I was away from my laptop for a while and didn't have time to blog.  Now that I'm back to work and the real world I've been having a hard time finding balance in my life again.  I took on a second job this week and have been trying so hard to wake up early to exercise before work.  I really admire people who have the discipline to do that consistently; it's always so much easier for me to choose sleep in the mornings over exercise.  Hopefully this week I'll find the balance between work, exercise, hobbies, and time with my hubby.  For those of you who work full time, how do you find the energy to exercise and find time for all the other things you love? Hopefully I'll find balance and figure out a routine soon.  In the mean time, auto-post is my new best friend. :)

And because it's been almost 3 weeks since I've updated this blog, here are few pictures of life lately:

^^^The best ice cream with my family in Utah, more ice cream for my niece on our road trip, my cute niece Dakota on her baptism day, and surprise I'M PREGNANT! (JK, just seeing if you guys are paying attention.  I got to go to my sister's ultrasound and found out she's having a girl.)^^^

^^^New running clothes to help motivate me to train for my half marathon, plant fusion smoothie samples that I LOVE (look for a giveaway sometime this week), joined a bunco (it's a fun dice game) group with my friends this week, shopping with my nieces and nephews made me really appreciate moms who go shopping with their kids^^^

Hope you all have a great week!  Please comment below if you have any tips for me when it comes to waking up early to exercise before work; I'd love to hear them!