Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Try Something New Tuesday: No-Bake Cookies Edition

I've decided to do a little series on my blog I like to call "Try Something New Tuesday." It has a certain ring to it, don't you think? Every Tuesday I hope to post about a new recipe I've tried. First up is no-bake cookies!

My husband loves those no-bake cookies that you make on the stove. You know, the ones with a cup of peanut butter, a whole stick of butter and 2 cups of sugar??? So, when I saw this recipe on Pinterest last week, I knew I had to try it. A healthier version of his favorite cookie?!? Yes, please!

Here's what you'll need.

Essentially we're cutting the sugar and peanut butter in half and substituting a banana for the butter. To get things started, mash the banana well. This totally took me back to my baby food making days.

Next, you're going to combine all your ingredients except the oats and vanilla into a saucepan.

Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Honestly, it took a looonngg time for me to get this to boil. And it seemed to smoke a lot more than its less healthy counterpart...especially when I stirred it. Which reminds me, you'll want to stir this often while it's on the stove so it doesn't scorch.

Let the mixture boil for 1 minute. Then remove it from the heat and add the oats and vanilla.

The original recipe said to drop these by the teaspoonful onto wax paper. Teaspoon?? Really?!?! If I'm going to eat a cookie, I want one bigger than a nickel. So, I dropped them by the tablespoonful instead.

Since I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon, I got 28 cookies from the recipe. Allow the cookies to cool completely.

Based on the 28 cookies I made, I calculated them as having 95 calories, almost 3g of protein, and 1.5g of fiber each. Not bad. But the real question is, did the family like them....

The kids all loved them! Jeff...well he is always leery anytime I try to make anything "healthier." I shouldn't have even told him they were any different. I liked them, too. I could definitely taste a banana flavor, but I thought that made them even better. The kids didn't notice the banana at all until I told them it was there.

These cookies did not harden up like I had hoped. They stayed pretty gooey. That was the most disappointing part to me. I tried storing them in the refrigerator, but that didn't seem to make any difference in their consistency. Maybe I should have boiled them longer? Even though they're gooey, I have been able to pack them in the kids' lunch boxes this week. They do keep their form, so that's something.

I do think I would make this recipe again. I loved that I had all the ingredients on hand, and it was a fun treat for the kids.

Healthier No-Bake Cookies
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed well
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 cups oats (I used old-fashioned)
~Place all the ingredients except the vanilla and oats in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Let the mixture boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and oats, stirring well to combine. Drop by tablespoonful onto waxed paper and cool to room temperature.

Monday, April 29, 2013

First Playdate and the Loss of My Nutella Virginity

We had so much fun today! I kicked it off with P90X Chest and Back. I have to admit this is my least favorite workout...so many pull-ups and push-ups! But I owned it today and increased my numbers with several of the exercises!

Next, I got the big girls off to school. Daughter #2 is doing some testing this week, and I volunteered to send a snack. I found these on Pinterest and put them together last night. How cute are they?!?

After I got the girls out the door, I grabbed a shower and some breakfast before taking the boy to preschool. Baby girl was super excited because after the preschool drop-off, she got to have her first ever playdate!

I know, I know. She should have had a few playdates by now, but here's the thing: she's the youngest of four. Things are crazy. AND all my friends stopped having babies before I did. Well, except Whitney, but she went and had a boy so that doesn't help me much.

So we were very excited when we recently got to know some of our neighbors who have a 3-year-old girl too! If you follow me on Facebook, you might remember my post last week about my friend, Karen. She and her husband recently started doing P90X, and she let me know that her husband's cholesterol has dropped 50 points since they started!!!

Anyway, Karen and her sweet daughter came over today so the girls could play. Here are the princesses.

Please note: these two girls were born about a month apart. Look how much hair Karen's daughter has compared to baby girl!!! 

Karen also brought a gift.

That's right, folks. I was a Nutella virgin. So I popped open this jar shortly after Karen left. I had been told it was good with graham crackers.

Let me tell you, it did not disappoint! So. Good. Baby girl loved it too.

See the way she's attacking that Nutella-covered graham cracker? As though I haven't fed her in days? That's right...she's definitely my kid.

Thank you, Karen for a fun playdate! And for giving me a new addiction to feed. For those of you that play the stock market, now might be a good time to invest in Nutella.

Question of the Day:

What's your favorite way to eat Nutella?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Weigh In and Train Ride

Happy Friday! The weekend has arrived! I got my Friday started with the Asylum Volume 1 Strength workout. I love it because it's a combination of cardio and strength exercises. It really gets my heart pumping, and I was dripping in sweat by the time we finished.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen me report that our bathroom scale had broken. I generally weigh myself pretty regularly. I try not to be obsessive about it because weight can fluctuate by several pounds, but I do use it as a tool to help keep me accountable. 

Yesterday I bought a new scale. Today was the first chance I'd had to use it. Because I would never weigh myself at any time of day other than first thing in the morning. And I would never weigh myself wearing anything other than my birthday suit. I'm pretty sure it's all part of the unspoken female code of weighing.

I am happy to report that my first time on the scale showed that nothing had changed substantially in the 2 weeks since I'd last weighed. In my mind, I just knew I'd jump on and discover I'd gained 10 lbs., but there were no big surprises.

I did, however, discover that my new scale will remember my weight for me and tell me how many pounds I've gone up or down the next time I step on. I'm not sure how I feel about that.... 

I followed my big weigh-in with a shower, and then grabbed a banana for breakfast as I headed out the door for a field trip with the boy. We were going to a local train station today to ride the train. 

Here's the boy waiting to ride the train. Baby girl came, too.

More waiting with his besties.

Finally, we got to ride!

The boy loved it!

So did baby girl.

After the train ride, we had a picnic. Then we headed home and played outside for most of the afternoon. I drank my Shakeology for an afternoon snack. I needed something that would hold me over while I took the oldest to a birthday party. It did the trick!

We plan to spend the rest of the weekend shuffling the kids around to their respective extracurriculars. And hopefully we'll squeeze in a little relaxation as well! Have a great weekend!!!

Question of the Day:

When do you weigh?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mondays Stink

I don't care for Mondays. Does anyone? Ours almost always end in a "divide and conquer" kind of evening with the children. Yesterday was no exception.

I got my day started on the right foot with P90X Chest, Shoulders & Triceps. I followed that with a PB&J Shakeology (1 scoop Shakeology + 1 Tbsp. PB2 + strawberries + 1/2 cup skim milk + 1/2 cup water + lots of ice) - YUM! And I topped it all off with some serious cleaning.

Then all the kids came home from school, and things got crazy. Jeff had to work until late yesterday evening, so I was down a chauffeur. I recruited my mom to take daughter #2 to her soccer game. (Thanks, Mom!) Meanwhile, I took the other three to a choir rehearsal for my oldest.

My oldest committed to choir at the beginning of the school year. She is so over it at this point. I am so over it at this point. She didn't want to be there, and I really didn't want to take her, but we are trying to teach her to honor her commitments so we went anyway. 

I decided I would have a good attitude about choir, and I would make good use of this time with the littles. So I took them to the park across the street to pass the 75-minute rehearsal. I came prepared. I brought balls. I brought a bat and glove. I brought a tee. We had a remote-control car. I just knew that we were going to have a good time.

The weather was perfect. Things started out cheerfully as we unloaded all the equipment from the car. The boy and baby girl were running around, enjoying the great outdoors.

We started with baseball. After approximately 9.2 seconds, we were tired of baseball. We tried playing soccer. It took 4.7 seconds for that to get old. I tried teaching them how to make necklaces out of flowers. That lasted about 1 nanosecond. 

The next thing I know, the boy had a bat in his hand, and before I could get the words out to stop him, I was taking a baseball bat to the knee. I don't use a lot of expletives, but I do believe one escaped my mouth at that moment. 

The boy was sorry. I could tell he was. But that didn't lessen the throbbing in my knee. I pointed to the van and ordered him inside. Baby girl could see that it was a good idea to follow suit. I picked up the equipment, and we spent the rest of the rehearsal inside the car in the parking lot. 

I wanted to take a picture of my knee all black and blue to show you all just how badly I had been injured. But it really doesn't look too bad. So you'll just have to take my word for it. As someone who has experienced an unmedicated childbirth, it HURT.

I decided I needed to redeem myself today. So after doing Asylum Volume 1 Speed and Agility, I took the littles to the backyard. They had a really good time finding roly polies and playing on the swing set. Then we had a picnic on the deck. I felt redeemed.

Later this evening daughter #2 was begging me to play soccer with her. I figured this was my opportunity for double redemption after yesterday's disaster, so I obliged. We're kind of at the point now where she is just way better than me. So it was pretty stinkin' hilarious. The eldest daughter offered to photograph the event.

This was the first of many times that she scored on me.

My athletic prowess must be dazzling you.

Well, my sparkling personality will dazzle you for sure.

Our esteemed photographer made us stop for a pose.

There she goes again. In flip flops no less.

It's all good though!

See, we're still friends! And my bra is white. Just in case you didn't notice.

She scares me a little bit though.

And here's a photo of our talented photographer.

And our spaghetti-covered cheering section who found our game so captivating that she took to landscaping instead.

Happy Tuesday, y'all!

Question of the Day:

Have you ever taken a bat to the knee???

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend Recap and May Madness!

This weekend had a slower pace than expected. Due to heavy rains here on Friday, we didn't have a soccer game, and the baseball game was postponed by a couple of hours giving us most of the day Saturday to spend at home.

Daughter #2 really wanted to workout with me on Saturday morning. I was doing Insanity Max Cardio Conditioning AND Cardio Abs. The two workouts combined are well over an hour. But she toughed it out like she always does. Although she didn't always seem happy about it.

And just in case I haven't already given you enough reasons to be thankful I don't workout next to you at the gym, here's me and my offspring:

You're welcome.

After our workout, we finally took the many boxes we collected over spring break for donation. And then Jeff picked up some mulch to work on our flower beds. 

While he worked outside, I was busy inside prepping some food for a church luncheon. I made my brownies with that incredible icing. I only make these when there are going to be others available to help me eat them. Otherwise, I'd eat the whole pan! I also prepared a lasagna.

After the boy's baseball game later in the afternoon, we came home and grilled some burgers (mine was a veggie burger) then did baths and bed. I tried really hard to stay up and watch the last episode of Project Runway, but I fell asleep during the judges' critiques. I will finish where I left off tonight. I know you can all tell by my own styling that I'm practically a fashion expert.

Don't ask.
Today we went to church and the luncheon. Then we came home for "quiet time." We make all the kids take some time (usually by themselves) on Sunday afternoon. They can read, nap or just play quietly in their rooms. It's nice to have some time set aside to slow things down.

If you're a follower of my Facebook page, you may have noticed that I'm going to be doing a challenge next month. This is going to be so much fun; I'd love for you to join us! It's called May Madness. You can find the event on Facebook here.

I am going to organize the participants into groups of 2 or more, depending on how many people sign up. Once it's almost time for the challenge to begin, I'll form a private group on Facebook so everyone's posts will be private and won't be visible to anyone except those in the group. Each participant can earn points by posting in the group. There is a limit of 2 posts for points (PFP) each day. Here's how the points will work:

*Workout Complete Check-In (just post what kind of workout you did): 1 point
*Motivation-related picture, quote, video, etc.: 2 points
*Sweaty Pic (right after your workout – Don’t be shy- This is a Judge-Free Zone!): 4 points
*Muscle shot (biceps, back, abs, etc. And, no, it doesn't have to look great; any muscle...even if you can't see it well YET... does count): 5 points
*Video of your workout (This can be as short as 15 seconds, and you don't have to have your whole body in the video. It can be as simple as a video of your feet while you're taking a walk.): 6 points
*Refer a friend or family member to my page AND they sign up for a FREE Beachbody account here: 6 points (BE SURE TO LET ME KNOW)
*Sign up to be a coach with a challenge pack purchase (waiving initial coach fee): 8 points

***Occasionally, I will offer bonus points randomly. These points can be earned in addition to your 2 PFP each day!***

Your workouts can be any type of exercise you would like; no purchase is necessary. You also do not have to workout with your team member(s), but your points will be added together so you'll want to encourage teammates along the way! At the end of the month, the team with the most points will win a prize! 

If you'd like to participate in the challenge, just add yourself to the event on Facebook! Then join my Beachbody team by registering for your FREE account here. This will give you additional tools to use during the challenge.

Enjoy your last bit of weekend!

Question of the Day:

How do you spend your Sundays?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guest Post From My Baby Sister!

Much has been accomplished today. I survived (just barely) Insanity Max Interval Circuit. Then I did some work around the house while the littles played. We ran to pick up a few things at the grocery store. Afterward, they wanted to have a picnic on the deck.

The remainder of the day included more housework, homework and dinner. Exciting stuff, I know.

Which is why I was super-excited when my sister, Melissa, let me know that she had written a post about completing her P90X/Insanity hybrid! As fascinating as my day has been, I was pretty sure her hybrid success was just a bit more enthralling.

Melissa is my baby sister by nearly 11 years. Growing up, I absolutely loved having a sister that much younger. We had a lot of fun together when I bossed her around played with her. She's funny. She's an athlete. And she can dance like nobody's business to "Gonna Make You Sweat." 

Melissa with baby girl on Christmas 2012
Melissa got married last year. She had done a little P90X just prior to her wedding, so we had some fun with that at the reception. I call this look "constipated."

Without further ado, here's Melissa's post!

After I got married, I stopped doing P90X because I didn’t have the equipment/space in our 1 bedroom apartment (I think that was just an excuse).   After several months of marriage, I realized I had gained some weight.  I started working out sporadically, including a few P90X videos (I didn’t have the chin up bar, so I couldn’t do all the videos).  I ran a half marathon in November, but I hadn’t really lost any weight. (Honestly, I was not prepared for the half marathon… at all, but I did finish!)  I knew I needed to do something on a consistent basis, instead of doing random workouts with no schedule.  I got Insanity for Christmas, and began the P90X/Insanity hybrid on January 1, 2013. (SHOUTOUT: Jennifer introduced me to the hybrid!)  In early April, I completed the hybrid!  During the 3 month hybrid schedule, I lost 8 pounds and dropped one dress size.  I feel great!  I didn’t take any measurements or pictures, but my clothes fit better, and I have wayyyy more energy.  I tend to look for opportunities to take a few extra steps, including using the stairs at work (which is both great and terrible because I’m on the 4th floor haha). 

Overall, I love the hybrid schedule.  For me, it is the perfect balance of cardio and weightlifting.  Insanity is incredibly mentally challenging, so I like just doing it every other day.  I would definitely recommend the hybrid schedule.  If you feel like Insanity is too much, then start out with P90X only, and build up to the hybrid. 

I feel like I should note that I didn’t drastically change my eating habits during this round of the hybrid.  I tried to be a little more aware of what I was eating, but by no means did I eat “clean.”  I still don’t.  That doesn’t mean it’s not important.  It just means that trying to change your health is a slow process.  I needed to focus on getting exercise incorporated as a part of my daily routine before trying to tackle my eating issues.  I have started a second round of the hybrid, and I plan to try to pay more attention to what I eat during this round.  It is a slow process, and I think it is important to realize that it is impossible to completely change lifestyles overnight, but you have to start somewhere.    

Thanks, Melissa! I'm so proud of you for sticking with it!!! You look great!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Zesty Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

Ok, y'all! Guess what turned up?!?!

And would you believe that 3-year-old little baby girl is the one who found both of these?!?! We call her "Finder" now. Her reward was that she got to sit next to me at dinner. I'm super popular around here.

I got my day started this morning with a little Pure Cardio from Insanity. Here's what I looked like when I finished.

I exude popularity, don't I?

After a well-deserved shower, I had my favorite new Shakeology recipe for breakfast: 1 scoop chocolate Shakeology + 1 Tbsp. PB2 + 1/2 cup skim milk + 1/2 cup water + lots of ice. SO GOOD!!! It's like having dessert for breakfast!

Lunch was a turkey wrap stuffed with my latest obsession: bell peppers. And a clementine for good measure.

I had some apples for a snack this afternoon. I have discovered that apples really hit the spot that time of day.

The last month or so of school is CRAZY around here. Tonight we had to divide and conquer: the boy had baseball and one of the girls had soccer. So I made one of our favorite quick and easy dinners: Zesty Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken. I got this recipe awhile back from Allrecipes. All the kids will eat it, which is a miracle in and of itself.

Here's the cast.

Start by putting your chicken in the crock pot. I used frozen chicken which works perfectly.

Next, mix together your BBQ sauce, dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire in a small bowl.

Pour your BBQ mixture right over the chicken.

Then turn on your crock pot and walk away.

The next step can be done either when you're ready to eat, or after the chicken has been cooking for a few hours or so and is tender. I like to do it right before my kids get home from school, because they tend to need my undivided attention once they arrive. 

Take the chicken out of the crock pot.

Then pour at least half of the sauce out of the crock pot and reserve it in a small bowl.

Now take two forks and shred your chicken.

Place the shredded chicken back in the crock pot and add just enough of your reserved sauce to make sure it's all nice and moist. I don't like to add back all the sauce though because it's too runny in my opinion.

This chicken is perfect served as is with a couple of veggies. We had it with sweet potatoes and spinach. It's also great on a bun or stuffed in a baked potato.

Zesty Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
  • Approximately 6 chicken breasts (I used 10 chicken tenders)
  • 12 ounces BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Place chicken in a crock pot. In a small bowl, mix the BBQ sauce, dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken. Cook approximately 4 hours on high or 6 - 8 hours on low. Remove chicken from crock pot. Reserve about half of the sauce from the crock pot in a small bowl. Shred the chicken with 2 forks. Place it back in the crock pot and gradually add reserved sauce until the chicken reaches desired consistency.

I think I would be remiss not to mention how horrified I have been by what transpired in Boston. My heart and prayers go out to all those affected.