Monday, August 5, 2013

He's Alive so He's Good

It's been a little over a month since my husband left. I've considered journaling through this experience but truthfully, I haven't felt like it and as much as I like to write, I've never been one to stick with it. Journaling, that is. So, yes, he's been gone a little more than a month. 

People ask me all the time, how he is doing? I respond the best that I can. Thankfully, we live in a world of advanced technology and I do get to send Facebook messages to him and hear from him that way, quite often. We are also able to Skype a couple times a week. However, I can't really answer that question. My thought process is, he's alive so he's good but he knows that I'm the type of person that's better off not knowing the gory details and there are a lot of things he's not allowed to share with me at all right now. We've been at war for 12 years. We've seen how something as heroic as serving your country can leave a man. He's in a war zone surrounded by people that hate him, hate us all. Americans. So, I really don't know how he's doing but I'll continue to say good as long as he's alive. That's all I can ask for.

 The first few weeks, I got asked how I'm doing a lot but now not so much. I guess that people assume since I'm living with my parents that I can't be doing all that bad and I guess, really, I'm not. But living with my parents doesn't alleviate the pain in my heart and the emptiness in my chest. It doesn't stop the random barrage of tears that seem to come out of nowhere on unexpected days. It doesn't change the fact that I'm pregnant and he's missing everything. He won't be there to hold my hand and keep me calm during my c section. He won't be there to stay with me overnight in the hospital. He won't be there to drive us home. We've waited for this miracle for almost 6 years. We had become convinced that our beautiful Abigail would be our only child. Now, he's missing the big event and it hurts. It hurts more than I let on. I try and be as brave as I can for my girls, born and unborn. They need me. 

I'm thankful for the support of my family and all they are doing for me while he is gone. They are making sacrifices too. And yes, they have made it easier but that doesn't mean it isn't hard.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is This Really My Life?

Is this really my life?

That's the question I keep asking myself lately.

Knowing something is a reality and being prepared for that reality are two totally different things.

I feel like my life has been a series of changes for the last couple of years. Some of them I've dealt with better than others. While my husband struggled with what he was supposed to do with his life, we picked up and moved 4 states away. Those plans fell through and we found ourselves stuck in a place we didn't really care for and my husband with a job he didn't really like. Another move across town and we finally settled into a church and I felt happy once again. I made friends. My husband on the other hand, was miserable. And I'm not using that word lightly. It got so bad that I finally had enough and told him that he needed to figure out what it was that he wanted to do with his life. At that point I no longer cared what it was, I just knew that he needed a change and he needed one quick. We'd argued and fought about him joining the military for at least eight years. I was totally against it and threatened and whined and acted like a toddler throwing a tantrum anytime the topic was broached. You can read more about that here. At this point, I knew in my heart that this was the direction we were headed and let him know that if that was what he decided that I was behind him all the way.

Last year, I became an Army wife. He went to training for about 7 months and Abigail and I moved back to Florida to be near my family. It was a hard time but we got through it and I've never been more proud of my husband. Our little family has been back together now for about 6 months, living and breathing the day to day military life. There have been moments and days of frustration learning this new life but all in all, I still say it was the best move for our family, and it's all worth it knowing and seeing that my husband is happy and loves what he does.

When your spouse joins the military at at time when we've been at war for 12 years, you go in with your eyes open, knowing that deployment is in your future. But, like I said earlier, knowing something is a reality and being prepared for that reality are two totally different things. And from a few seasoned military wives that I've talked to, you can never really be prepared. You just do what you have to do. Doing what I have to do is the only thing that has kept me sane in the last couple of weeks and it's the only thing keeping me sane right now. My life is about to change drastically once again. As I prepare to send my husband to war, I know there are no guarantees. We've prepared for it as much as we possibly can. All of our "affairs" are in order and there is a chain of responsibility in the event of the worst case scenario. Things like that are not easy to think about and plan for but you do what you have to do, right?

The question comes to mind once again. Is this really my life? When my husband and I said, "I do," 10 years ago, I never imagined that this is where we'd be. But here we are. Here I am.

Our daughter is 5 years old and we are FINALLY expecting our second child later this year. We had begun to believe that we'd never have another child and just when I found myself being OK with that, I found out I was pregnant. We all were over the moon excited. It's been a rough pregnancy. Totally different from my first. The second trimester has been so refreshing so far. I feel a million times better and I can finally enjoy being pregnant. I never imagined that I would give birth to this child without his/her daddy there. I never imagined that I'd be here but here I am.

There are more changes to come over the course of this year and each one makes me question, "Is this really my life?"

Yes. Yes it is. Even though it's a life that is hard, filled with uncertainty, and sure to be full of tears and changes, it's a life worth living. It's a life to be proud of. It's a life that's in God's hands and there is no better place to be. So, if  you see me in the future just know that I'm relying on the Lord and doing what I have to do and that is what's getting me through.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Whole30: Day 5

Today has been a rather unusual day. I had some things come up health wise which ended with me having blood work done. I'm OK, so don't worry.

What does this mean for my Whole30 challenge?

I'm not sure yet. At this point, I feel that I need to consult with my doctor before continuing and that appointment isn't for a few weeks. So, until then, I'm going to eat clean and healthy but not completely stick with the Whole30. If my doctor gives the OK, then I'm planning on starting over and completing the challenge.

I stuck with the Whole30 today but I haven't eaten a lot. Just haven't felt so great today.

As soon as I have my appointment and talk to my doctor, I'll let you all know if I will be starting the challenge over or not.

I will say, that up until today, I've felt amazing and have enjoyed the Whole30. So, I'm hoping I get the go ahead to continue!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Whole30: Day 4

Woohoo! Another day is done!

I must say that eating this way has been easier than I expected. What do I miss the most? Beans! I knew it was going to be that way though! I love beans, garbanzo beans, white beans, etc. We used to eat beans several times a week! They are cheap, filling, and so yummy but it's a no-no on the Whole30. That's OK though because my meals have been so delicious! I will say that it does take an adjustment to rethink your meals without dairy, grains, carbs, legumes, and sugars. But it's forced me to get creative and so far so good! Even my hubby has been loving the meals!

Another hard thing has been saying goodbye to the scale. I have a love-hate relationship with that thing anyway. If I'm eating right and exercising, I get on the scale at least every other day. If I'm going through a rough patch, I don't even look at it. I had gone several weeks without weighing because I knew I was doing damage to my body and didn't want to see a physical number. I was very disappointed in the number it gave me when I weighed on day one but I'm feeling so good right now and physically my stomach isn't as hard or bloated as it was just a few day ago so it is KILLING me not to get on the scale and see if there has been a number change! I almost caved a few minutes ago but I want to do the Whole30 right so I didn't give in to the temptation! Aaaah.....

So what did I eat today?

Meal 1: two hard boiled eggs and the other half of my steak from last night. I always wondered why people wanted steak for breakfast. Now, I'm wondering why I haven't eaten it for breakfast before now! So good!

Meal 2: an apple with almond butter and some cashews. Weird? Kinda. I honestly wasn't that hungry for lunch. I was mostly tired which can be from a number of things from lack of sleep while my daughter was sick and it just being the beginning stages of the Whole30. I knew I needed to eat but just wasn't feeling cooking and there were no leftovers to heat up as I had given the hubby the last of the tomato soup for his lunch. The meal was great though and satisfying.

Meal 3: stir-fry of onions, red bell pepper, zucchini, and left over steak. I cooked it in coconut oil and seasoned it with salt, pepper, curry powder, garlic powder, and some chili powder. I of course split it with the hubby and we both loved it! I will definitely be making this again!

I'm really happy that I decided to embark on this journey! There have been a few times where I've craved other foods or wanted the convenience of making a sandwich but I know that this is the right thing for me right now and I don't plan on sabotaging it! I hear that the further you get into the Whole30 journey that the craving for junk subsides and you begin to crave the real, whole foods you been eating! I like the sound of that!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Whole30: Day 3

Day 3 is complete. I had some doubts about today only because I was up all night with my daughter who has a stomach virus. I was tired and the convenience of eating cereal was tempting. Plus, I had plans to go to the grocery store this morning for a few more things and I was worried how I was going to fix us all lunch. But in the end, I prevailed, and it felt GOOD!

I didn't eat breakfast until around 10:30 this morning. I finally got to lie down in my own bed about 7 AM so breakfast was late. I ended up cooking two eggs and putting a homemade salsa of tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and diced avocado on top.

Since I had breakfast so late, I didn't eat lunch until around 2 PM. My dilemma of what to serve was resolved because well, my daughter was only consuming fluids and my husband didn't get to come home for lunch. I reheated the chicken dish I had made for lunch yesterday and added a few extra cashews on the side. It was still yummy today!

My husband had been gone for almost a month for some training so I decided that steak should be on the menu tonight. He got back late last night. So for supper we had steak and asparagus. He had a side salad and I had half an avocado. He gobbled his dinner up in a hurry. I guess they didn't feed him well at training! :)

I'm praying that we've seen the last of the stomach bug. My daughter has been miserable all day and neither of us has gotten much rest. I am also praying that me nor my husband get it either. It's a nasty little thing.

Onward to day 4! I have to say, that I'm really feeling good and I don't feel restricted in anyway like I thought I might.

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Monday, April 1, 2013

Whole30: Day 2

Day 2 is done!

Today was a good day. I love the encouragement that I'm receiving from you all. I spent majority of the day getting the house clean and going up and down the stairs for what seemed like a million times. That counts as a workout, right?

I went to the "bathroom" more than normal today but that's a good sign that my body is cleaning itself of the junk I had been poisoning it with.

For breakfast, I scrambled eggs in coconut oil and served it with half an avocado seasoned with salt, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and cilantro and a few slices of tomatoes seasoned the same. I ended up cutting up the tomato and avocado into chunks and mixing everything together. It was very good and filling.

I was sort of worried about lunch today. Don't get me wrong, I love a good salad but I can get tired of them quickly. One of the biggest problems people face when learning to eat healthy is learning what to eat. Some people get stuck in a rut because they only know a few things to eat and eat them over and over again. With the removal of dairy, grains, beans, carbs, and sugar from my diet, I have to rethink the way I eat. Especially at the beginning of relearning how to eat, it can be tricky and I can fall into that slump of eating the same things over and over again. I knew that I wanted to eat something else besides a salad for lunch today but I didn't know what. So, I got into the kitchen and looked around at what I had on hand and this amazing dish came together! I started out by sauteing some yellow bell pepper's in coconut oil. Then I added in mushrooms, tomatoes, pineapple, shredded chicken, and cashews. I seasoned it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and fresh cilantro. Since my daughter was eating it too and doesn't like wilted spinach, I did that in another pan and served my chicken dish over the top of the spinach. 2 thumbs up even from the five year old.

I got a little hungry between lunch and supper so I had half an apple with almond butter! I seriously love that combo!

For supper we had leftovers. This time I topped my bowl of chicken and tomato soup with the other half of the avocado, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. It was still as good tonight, if not better, as last night!

I'm thinking of making a hash in the morning with leftovers from lunch today and fried eggs for meal one. We'll see. I already need to run to the grocery store again as I wasn't quite sure how much of what I needed before I got started and sort of guessed.

So far so good.

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Whole30: Day 1

Happy Easter!!!

Day 1 is officially in the books! Yay!

I started my morning off by weighing (yuck), taking measurements (yuck), and taking pictures (double yuck) before breakfast. I'm hoping my results will be amazing and I'll have enough courage to share before and after pictures but we'll see.

I'm not a big breakfast person because well, mainly I'm not a morning person. Before I began my healthy lifestyle, I rarely ate breakfast at all and when I did it was usually a granola bar or pop-tart. I eat breakfast everyday now but I still struggle with eating the best things. I'll still do a bar sometimes but it's usually a Cliff Bar. I try to eat things like oatmeal and Uncle Sam cereal and eggs on occasion.

One thing about the Whole30 is that they encourage you to see your meals as meal 1, 2, and 3, not breakfast, lunch, and supper. If you feel like leftovers for your first meal then go for it. I like that because I know me, there will be a morning where I'm just not feeling cooking breakfast and the option to heat up leftovers will be there waiting for me! :)

But for my first day, cooking breakfast was on the agenda and boy was it GOOD! I scrambled some eggs seasoned with salt and pepper, in coconut oil. Near the end I tossed in some fresh spinach and allowed it to wilt. On the side, I had half an avocado sprinkled with salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper! YUM!

After church we came home and I fixed us salads. I threw some chicken breast in the crock pot yesterday afternoon to cook up for the week which makes things easier. So I had a beautiful salad of leafy greens and spinach with shredded carrots, sliced yellow bell pepper, diced strawberries, diced tomatoes, chunks of avocado, roasted pecans, and shredded chicken. I'm typically a ranch dressing kind of girl but that goes against the no dairy and additives rule so I topped my salad with extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lime, and a dash of balsamic vinegar! Total YUM!

Since we did our Easter traditions last week and it decided to storm here after church, we spent the day being lazy. For supper, I made a creamy chicken and tomato soup. How did I get it creamy with the no dairy rule? Coconut milk! I'm not kidding, this tomato soup was outstanding! The coconut milk really intensified the flavors of the soup! I added the shredded chicken at the end but next time I think I'll just leave it on the side and eat them separately. I served it over a bed of fresh spinach. I also had half and apple with organic raw almond butter! Double YUM!

One of the goals of the Whole30 is to eat enough of the right foods during your meals that you stay full from one meal to the next. Snacking is to be kept to a minimum. I have to say, I've tried diets and programs where I was starving all day long and I HATED what I was eating! Not today. Before church is over my stomach is usually making terrible noises and I'm thinking about lunch. Not today! I didn't feel hungry up until right before I ate my salad! I'm full now from supper! I'm interested to see how the next 29 days play out.

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Saturday, March 30, 2013

30 Before 30

Hello Blog! It's been a while!

If you follow my blog's page on Facebook then you already know that I've struggled since moving to Louisiana in January. Army life has not been easy. It's not that it's been overly hard, it's just taking some time to get used to, is all. Just when I think I'm getting back into the groove here comes another curve ball and I just haven't been strong enough to handle them food wise yet. I'm to a point where I'm sick of the struggle. I'm tired of it being hard. That's life though, right? I've sort of coasted over the last few months until about 3 weeks ago when I did a total face plant...right into diet soda and junk food hell! Even though it sort of felt like heaven in the beginning.

I've always been told that sin is good for a season. Meaning, that in the moment doing wrong feels good! It's later when the dust has settled that we face the consequences and feel the pain that living in sin causes. In the Bible, God says in James 4:17, "So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." During my entire face plant, I knew what I was doing was wrong. I was wreaking havoc on my body physically and spiritually. Instead of resting in the LORD I was drowning in junk. And there have been negative consequences...unpleasant body functions, headaches, tiredness, feeling gross, and by far the worst, clothes that don't fit the same meaning weight gain! I'm not saying that if you partake in eating something that isn't "healthy" you are sinning, I'm saying that constantly filling my body with poison and doing it with an unhealthy mindset was wrong! It's one thing to enjoy a treat, it's another to gorge yourself! Gluttony is one of the 7 deadly sins, after all!

So, what now?

I'm tired of the slippery slope. Until I'm strong enough to handle moderation, I have to narrow my focus and by narrow my focus, I mean cut out anything in my diet that can trigger a negative response to my addiction to food.

A year or so ago, I came across a blog. I can't even remember the name now but the writer had just turned 30 and before doing so she had created a list of 30 things she wanted to accomplish before she turned 30 and had incorporated those adventures into her blog. I liked the idea. I had every intention of doing a 30 before 30 list but never got around to it. Just a few days ago, I thought of it again. The only problem is, I turn 30 the end of next month! As I began to realize the depth of the stronghold I was in, I began to look for a way to get out. I had talked to my friend Clara a month or so ago about a challenge she was doing. She had experienced a similar face plant and had found steady footing with The Whole 30 challenge and way of eating. I decided at the time just to keep doing what I was doing. I started counting calories with a program on my phone. I bought a new exercise DVD. For about 2 weeks, it worked for me. I lost a few pounds and was feeling better. Then came the curve ball and that's when I face planted. So, as I am trying to climb out of this hole I've dug for myself, I found myself thinking about Clara and The Whole 30 again. I emailed her some questions, looked at the website, looked up recipes on Pinterest, and waited for her reply. Before she even called me back, I knew I had found what I was looking for but talking to her on the phone yesterday convinced me that this was what I needed...a healthy, real approach to eating.

So, I'm embarking on my 30 before 30 journey! It's not 30 things before I turn 30, it's 30 days of extremely clean eating before I turn 30. I'm starting tomorrow! Tomorrow is Easter! Are you crazy? I know that's what your thinking but we did our traditional Easter dinner and things last weekend when my parent's were here. So, yes, I'm starting tomorrow.  My challenge will end on the 29th of April. One day before my 30th birthday. I decided to do it this way, in case I want to eat cake on my birthday. The truth is, I'm hoping I don't but if I do, I can do it and it will be a treat, NOT a cheat!

For 30 days, I wont' be eating any grains (not even quinoa), dairy, carbs (except those naturally found in vegetables), sugar (except in a small amount of fruit), or additives (processed foods). Besides weight loss, there are other great benefits that come from eating this way and I'm anxious to see some of those results as well. I will be blogging every day for 30 days. I will include pictures of what I ate, how I feel, etc. I will be weighing, taking measurements, and pictures tonight or tomorrow but after that I'm not allowed to step on the scale for 30 days. So there wont' be any weight loss numbers to report til the end. I hope you'll stay with me through this journey! I need the accountability and encouragement!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Thursday, January 31, 2013


It's been a while since I've written a personal post that doesn't pertain to my quest for healthy living.

Things have changed so much since the beginning of last year. You can read all about my thoughts on becoming an Army wife here. It was an emotional journey from the time my husband decided to enlist until the night my brother, my daughter, and I picked him up from the airport a few days before Christmas. That time apart not only changed my husband from a civilian to a soldier but it changed me too, as a wife, a mother, a person.

I'm a complete newbie to this Army wife, Army life thing. There are still things I don't understand or know. I still have to subtract in my head to figure what time my husband is coming home for dinner. There are times I just nod my head like I understand what he's talking about but really all I know is that I have a headache from trying to understand all the lingo. I'm super thankful for websites and Facebook pages and groups that offer help and support for military wives. And I definitely need to take some of the classes offered on post for helping me understand everything.

We are settling into our new home in Fort Polk, Louisiana. We were somewhat disappointed to find out that after living in Louisiana for two years and Ryan enlisting there, that we were headed back. I mean, if we were gonna do this Army thing, let's have a little adventure. Not that it's not an adventure living here. It's Louisiana for crying out loud. Just going to Walmart is an adventure. I figure that God has a sense of humor. I must not have liked Louisiana enough the first time. It's definitely an adjustment. There is all the sleaze of New Orleans, like strip clubs on every corner outside the post without all the fantastic culture and places to eat.

We lived in a hotel on post for about 5 days. That was first. But after realizing what very limited dining options we had, I longed for a home, my pots and pans, and a home cooked meal. Thankfully, we were able to get a really nice town house with a garage and a fenced in back yard. I love it. I really do. It definitely makes living here more bearable. We were worried about not having enough storage space but we have plenty with room to spare!

The post itself is nice. I love shopping at the Commissary for my groceries and we went to the PX probably every day for the first week. We haven't really had a chance to check out everything else the post has to offer like the recreational areas and the other stuff like the bowling alley and the putt-putt course but we will eventually. We did make a Saturday trip into Alexandria and had lunch at a barbecue place called Outlaw's and then we hit up the mall and Target. I'm dying to go back so I can go to Hobby Lobby. I got a sewing machine for Christmas and I'm itching to get supplies and start learning to sew. The hubby didn't feel well that day so I didn't torture him with a trip the HL.

Last week was a rough week in general and then we decided to get a puppy. The night we brought him home and named him Halt after a favorite character in a book series, I got sick. I stayed sick for about two days. In the end we decided to give Halt to a different family. I realized, too late, that the puppy was just too much stress on me right now. It's hard being away from my family, being in a new place, not knowing anyone, and not really having a routine. The pup was just too much. We were sad to see him go but he has a great knew family. My daughter was heart broken, she'd been wanting a puppy for a while, but ice cream, a new toy, and the promise of a pet fish, cheered her up.


Things are a bit better this week. We are hoping to finally meet a few people around here and make some friends. We haven't been able to find a church yet because every Sunday someone has either been sick or something else was going on. I know I'll feel more at home and at peace when we find a church to be a part of. However, I am loving being with my husband. It's so, so, so good to have him back. I am so proud of him and everything he accomplished last year. He is definitely my hero.

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Crock Pot Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

If it has the word jalapeno in it, I'm probably gonna try it. I love spicy food. Hot sauce is the condiment I couldn't live without. There are things I simply can't eat without hot sauce. Scrambled eggs for one. My uncle Rudy turned me on to that when I was a kid and I haven't been able to eat them plain since. That and salt and vinegar potato chips, which I rarely ever eat now.

So, when I stumbled upon this recipe for Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili from Sweet Treats and More, I knew that I had to try it. However, I've been trying to fix meals in the crock pot as much as I can on Friday's. That way I don't have to worry about being in the kitchen when my hubby gets home from work or having to clean up a lot after we eat. This gives us the chance to really have some family time since his work week is usually crazy and we don't see that much of him. It gives us a good head start on the weekend. That's why I decided to throw it in the crock pot. Sure the taste might be a bit different if I had sauteed the peppers and onions. I also left out the bacon. I originally bought some turkey bacon to cook and crumble on top but I forgot about it and I thought it was great without it. You can make it however you want. Follow the recipe in the link above or do it like me and fix it and forget it!

Crock Pot Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

1 small onion, diced
5 jalapeno peppers, diced, seeds removed (leave some seeds for extra heat)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
pinch of crushed red pepper
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1.5 cups chicken broth
1 can cannelloni or navy beans, drained
1 can corn, drained
8 oz cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat kind)
bacon optional

Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray. Place onion, peppers, and garlic in bottom. Place chicken breast on top. Top with remaining ingredients except bacon. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Shred chicken with fork. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve and enjoy.

You can top with cooked and crumbled bacon. We opted for a bit of shredded cheese on top and tortilla chips on the side.

I also shredded my chicken after 7 hours and then gave it a good stir and then let it cook the additional hour.

 PS. Mine looks a little thick because I used three chicken breasts and it was way too much meat!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

I love finding and trying new recipes. That's why I love Pinterest so much. Pinterest just opened wide a door of food possibilities for me. Now, you do have to be careful not to get bogged down in the fat and calorie laden recipes most often found on Pinterest. Most of the time I feel like I have to dig through pin after pin after pin of fatty desserts, processed food filled casseroles, and other disturbing recipes to find the really good ones. Every once in a while, I'll pin something I wouldn't normally eat but rarely do I ever make those recipes. I have found some excellent recipes though and my newest, Meatless Monday dish is one of those.

We had to push back our meatless day this week from Monday to Tuesday because of some previous dinner plans we had made. I was pretty excited to get in the kitchen yesterday evening and begin whipping up dinner. This new recipe combines three of my most favorite things...chickpeas, spinach, and smoked paprika. I can go through a container of smoked paprika in a hurry. I put it in almost everything! It has such wonderful flavor.

The recipe comes from Kitchen La Boheme but she actually got the recipe from Bon Appetit. You should check out both sites for more yummy recipes. I did things just a tiny bit different from Kitchen La Boheme but nothing major.

Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Serves 4

3 Tbs EVOO, divided
4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced, divided
1 bag of baby spinach, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
2 15 oz cans of chickpeas, drained
1 one pound can of whole tomatoes, crushed, plus half of the juice
1 15 oz can of vegetable broth

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add 1 garlic clove. Stir until beginning to turn golden brown, 1–2 minutes. Add spinach to pot. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Cook until spinach is wilted but still bright green, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; set aside. Wipe out pot.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion and 3 garlic cloves. Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened, 3–4 minutes. Add cumin and paprika; stir until cumin is toasted and fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Add chickpeas and tomatoes*; stir to coat. Cook until tomatoes start to caramelize and chickpeas begin to brown, 8–10 minutes.

Add broth; bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Reduce heat to medium; simmer, occasionally mashing some chickpeas with the back of a spoon or a potato masher, until sauce is thickened, 15–20 minutes. Fold in spinach; simmer for flavors to meld,  8–10 minutes.

*When adding tomatoes, I poured off about half of the juice into the pot and then crushed the tomatoes into the pot using my hands. You can reserve the remaining juice if you would like, as the stew does get really thick. I liked the thickness but if you don't, just add more of the tomato juice or more vegetable broth later on, if you have it.

The whole family loved this dish. Even my five year old ate it up. The flavors meld together so well. It was warm and comforting and perfect for a cold night. 

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Greek Chicken Salad

I'm on a roll with the blog this week. I hope I can keep it up. Sometimes I forget how freeing writing is for me. It's a great stress reliever. It's also great accountability. And after the last month that I've had, I really need that accountability.

The Greek Chicken Salad was a hit at supper last night. My husband did comment that he found the cucumbers to be "weird" in the salad but I found them refreshing.

If you are looking for something different and easy to make, you should definitely try this twist on chicken salad.

The recipe comes from a cookbook put together by members of a ladies Bible study class I was in when we lived in Slidell. I miss those ladies at First Baptist Slidell. This particular recipe was submitted by Jessica Fleming Odom.


Greek Chicken Salad

3 cups cubed, cooked chicken
2 medium cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup sliced black olives
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 cup of mayo
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 TBS dried oregano

Combine first five ingredients. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Toss with chicken mixture. Cover and chill for several hours.

* I had used all of my fresh parsley and didn't have time to run to the store so I used some dried parsley I had on hand. It worked nicely. I also reduced the amount of mayo and increased the amount of Greek yogurt a bit to reduce the calories and fat. Seriously yum!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Monday, January 21, 2013

Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites

Finally, here it is. The recipe you've all been waiting for. I can't take all the credit because I didn't come up with these babies but I did add a few things to make them a bit better, in my opinion. You can view the original recipe here. I found the recipe searching Pinterest as I know many of you do. The first time I made them, I followed the recipe exactly and took them to a church fellowship meal. Of course by the time the dinner happened, they were room temperature and I hadn't tried one straight out of the oven. They were good then but a bit on the bland side. I knew that I could add some more seasoning to them and they would be perfect. Plus, they are amazing when they are hot and they reheat in the oven really well. We are currently without a microwave so I'm not sure how they reheat in that.

So without further ado...

Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites

Makes 28 mini cups

2 cups cooked quinoa...about 3/4 cup uncooked
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 cup diced ham (I used about half of a Smithfield ham steak)
1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
2 TBS Parmesan cheese
2 green onions, sliced
salt and pepper
garlic powder
onion powder
smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini muffin tin liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Spoon mixture to the top of each cup. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until egg is done and edges are brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from tin (I can never wait that long. They are so good!).

I plan on making these again this week but this time for my meatless day. I haven't decided if I'm going the broccoli and cheese route or the spinach and feta route but I'll let you know how they turn out.


Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Once an Addict, Always an Addict

Now that we are officially settled in our new home on Fort Polk, I can finally get back to blogging and back to trying to live that healthier lifestyle.

 I won't lie. It's been a huge struggle the last few weeks, the past month really. I decided this year to enjoy the holiday and not to really worry about what I ate. Bad decision. My hubby came home from all of his training a few days before Christmas. Greeting him at the airport was AMAZING! Our lives have been extremely hectic since he came home though. Between Christmas with my family, traveling to visit his family and have Christmas with them, coming home to get the house organized and cleaned before the movers came, living with my parent's for a couple of days after our house was packed up, moving to Louisiana, living out of a hotel room for a week, and finally having our stuff delivered and getting our new home set up...the bad decisions just kept stacking up. Every time I made a poor decision, I knew what I was doing. I kept justifying the decisions to myself, saying things like, "you never eat like this anymore, you can't really cook right now so just enjoy it, you can get back on track after things settle down." That's the problem with being a food addict or any kind of addict, I guess. We think we are strong enough to do the thing we are addicted to for a while and then go back to doing things the right way. But it's nearly impossible. You have to go through those things all over again...the high, the low, the guilt, the withdrawal, the disappointment in yourself. In plain sucks! And once you've gone through all of those things you have to do the even harder part. You have to continuously make the right choice. Eventually it will get easier the longer you make the right choice but in the beginning, it's one of the hardest things. You feel amazing when you make the right choice. You feel on top of the world but just because you made the right choice a breakfast doesn't guarantee that you'll make the right choice at lunch. The struggle will be there again. Your mind will tell you that the greasy hamburger is so good and the Cajun fries are amazing. It will tell you that you can have the "bad" lunch and still stay on track. Your mind will LIE to you over and over and over again. There might come a day once you've been on track for a while and you are stronger, mentally and physically, that you can have that "bad" meal and get right back on track without missing a beat but if you are just coming off of a month of giving into your addiction, then that hamburger and Cajun fries is the WORST thing you can possibly do in that moment.

And folks, that's where I am right now in my journey. After hitting a MAJOR weight loss goal (never had a chance to blog about it), my weight is back up and I'm at ground zero once more. I take full responsibility for my actions and it's my responsibility to get back on track and stay there. I know I won't be able to do it without the help of my support system. I am thankful for them. My mom, even though we are separated by many miles now, continues to be my biggest supporter. One way that I am staying accountable is by continuing to create a weekly meal plan. I then email her my plan and any recipes that she needs and she and dad will basically be eating the same things that I eat during the week. It keeps me accountable and makes her life easier! :) One other way of staying accountable to my exercise plan (which has been non-existent for almost 2 months due to illness and then the holidays and moving) is signing up for a 5K. The hubby and I are going to run together in a Valentine's Day 5K here on post. I better get back to training so he doesn't have to  drag me off the side of the road. How utterly unromantic would that be? :)

Well, I had intended for this post to be a recipe post for the Ham and Cheese Quinoa Bites but I think I'm going to have to do that in a separate post. Apparently there were some things that I needed to get off of my chest!

Thanks for listening!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,