Memorial Day Recap & Importance Of Routine.

I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun Memorial holiday. Did anyone else enjoy some poolside time this weekend? I soaked up a little bit of sun and tried to use this holiday weekend to rest up and relax, though it certainly was busy.

One of my best friends from college stayed with me this past weekend. It’s always refreshing to reminisce on college memories, to catch up on current life happenings and to see where life is taking us both. So much happens in such a short time.

I also took an unplanned trip to Nashville to visit with my boyfriend and his family for the weekend. Have I mentioned lately that I am one lucky girl to have him in my life? I need to go to the grocery store because there is absolutely nothing in my fridge right now. I’ll be relying heavily on my stocked pantry and freezer today and tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to the grocery until then. I’m not sure yet what I’ll be eating for breakfast…

While Memorial Weekend was wonderful, it’s time for me to get back on my routine. I believe consistency is one of the biggest keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong; I do enjoy three-day, holiday weekends. Because my travel this past weekend was unplanned, I learned quickly that unplanned travel offers a major challenge in hard maintaining my specific and tailored diet. I am most successful and feel better about my health focus when I take time to plan and prepare for travel. I can balance my meals the week leading up to the travel, I can prepare healthy snacks, and I  can pack appropriate workout attire. I did try to stick to my safe foods list while I’m on the road.

While I wish I were still in Tennessee, I do look forward to getting back on my routine. I plan to resume my regular weekly workout schedule today. That means I’ll be focusing on a total body workout with some ab work, too.

Before I scrounge up something for breakfast, I wanted to let you know that I hope to announce the winner of the 7-Quart Oval Stainless Steel Slow Cooker, brought to you by SlimKicker on tomorrow’s post. SlimKicker is currently reviewing the entries, and I’m just waiting on their top choice. Stay tuned for the winner and also, stay tuned for some GREAT blog news coming VERY soon. I can’t wait to share these things with you!

Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:
How was your Memorial Day Weekend? Did you do anything fun?
Do you function better on a routine or do you prefer spontaneity? 

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Smoothies & Dinner Parties.

It’s Saturday! Time to sit back, relax and sleep in…except I don’t sleep in. I’m an early bird even when I don’t have to be. I don’t have plans until 10:30AM and yet I’ve been up since 6AM. I was hoping to open the windows and watch the sunrise, but Lexington is having thunder and lightning storms right now– which to me is equally amazing as a sunrise. I read a little bit from The Daily Fix, and finally decided to get out of bed around 7AM. I had one meal on my mind for breakfast…a green protein smoothie!

I jumped out of bed and started gathering the ingredients to make my refreshing green smoothie, perfect for a warm morning like today. BUT I discovered I was completely out of my MOST favorite peanut butter in the world, Krema Peanut Butter! I thought I had another jar of this in my pantry, but now I’ve learned this will be the very first thing to pick up when I go to the grocery. So, what to do? Last time I was grocery shopping, I picked up a packet of Justin’s Nut Butter, Chocolate Hazelnut to be exact.

It seems everyone in the health & food blogger world raves about this all of the time, so I decided to give it a go. I added half of a packet to the blender and was curious to find out how this would change the overall flavor. I definitely could tell a difference, and it added a good, flavorful variety to my green smoothie. It tasted a bit “nuttier” than when I use Krema peanut butter, but I think I’ll have to try it again to know which I prefer. I liked the added chocolate flavor, too. But the thing I really like about Krema is that the peanut butter has only one ingredient: peanuts. This little packet had a few more ingredients on the list:

Organic or not, Justin’s still has added sugar and salt. I measured out the rest of my ingredients using my favorite kitchen tool, my scale, and blended away. With the exception of the peanut butter, I used this recipe for my refreshing green protein smoothie this morning. I poured this into my recycled salsa jar and enjoyed this at my dining room table and sipped on it as I watched the rain through my window.

Today is a bittersweet. I’m meeting one of my best friends for brunch at 10:30AM, kind of an early lunch for me since I will have been up for a while. She’s moving away tomorrow to begin a new chapter of her life. I’m thrilled to see how her dreams are becoming a reality, but I’m a little sad for me because I selfishly want her to stay. She is an exceptional friend, knows me better than I know myself. I’m blessed to even simply know her. So, we decided to have a final coffee date before she heads out-of-town.

Tonight, I’m hosting a little dinner party for some fairly new friends. And while I haven’t known them long, I feel like I’ve known them forever. They’re a very special couple that I love being around. Every time I’m with them I’m both inspired and challenged to become a better person. I know they enjoy chicken and I have some chicken in the freezer that I can’t seem to use up because I know I’m not going to eat much of it. Because it’s Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d make a little Salsa Chicken in the crock pot and throw in some black beans and other veggies. I’m feeling a bit inspired by this Gooseberry Patch recipe, sans the tortillas.

This “flexitarian” will make sure there’s a salad or steamed vegetables to enjoy. I’m still a little unsure about what to make for dessert, but that will come together. I’ll let you know what I’m inspired to make later.

I hope you’re all in for a great day ahead. Anyone watching the Derby?

Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

What’s your favorite peanut butter / nut butter brand?

(LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear from you! To comment click on the comment/dialogue box at the top of this post. Or visit my Contact Me page. You’ll find information  on following me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.) 

Friday Refine | Food.

It’s Friday! Our office is having a little Cinco de Mayo potluck party today, so I offered to bring a baked good. Confession whenever we have potlucks, I use these times as an opportunity to get rid of some unhealthy foods that have somehow made their way into my apartment. I hate throwing food away, so I decided to make up the package of break-and-bake chocolate chip cookies that have been teasing me in my fridge for a while now. They’re teasing me this morning, too. You just can’t beat that fresh out of the oven smell that cookies always create…

What a tease early in the morning. But I’ve resisted!

I can’t believe it’s been an entire week since I post about refining my goals. To refresh, there are four areas in my life I’d really like refine, refocus and reevaluate in order to make sure I’m continually making positive strides in healthy living. These include fitness, food, finances and love. This Friday I’m taking a look at the category of Food – where I’ve been, and where I need to take it for even better health.

In the past six months, I’ve really reshaped the way I eat.  I’ve made great strides in this area of my life by focusing on mindful eating, taking note of the nutrients my body is taking in or lacking, and I’m cutting out processed foods by choosing foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. I’m eating as many home cooked meals as possible so I can control portion sizes. More importantly, home cooked meals allows me to control each ingredient that goes into a recipe. I’ve also learned that I’m a Flexitarian. A Flexitarian is a semi-vegetarian– a person who eats a vegetarian diet much of the time, but will include animal foods in the diet when convenient or because she enjoys these foods occasionally. And by occasionally, I mean rarely, except in the form of tuna or salmon or eggs.

These are all great things I’ve focused on. Making smarter food choices has improved the way I feel, improved my mood, given me more energy and keeps me focused. I have come to a place where I can say “no” to refined carbs (free breadsticks or rolls at restaurants, cupcakes at the office, sugary cereals, etc.) and I’ve also found the powerful benefits of adding high protein foods to my diet, especially on workout days.

While I’m happy about where I’ve come from and what I’m currently doing to live healthfully in the area of Food,  there’s always room for improvement. Here’s how I’d like to refine the area of food:

1.) I’d like to incorporate food challenges into my diet and blog. Earlier this week, I, for the first time, baked tofu using a personally created recipe: Salsa Lime Tofu. It was delicious and the leftovers offered me healthy lunch options throughout my work week. I used to be so intimidated about making this food, but I challenged myself and the results turned out amazing. Food challenges would help me incorporate a variety of health and super foods into my every day diet as well as allow me to get creative in the kitchen. Some foods I’m going to challenge myself to make include:

  • Quinoa
  • Homemade Larabars
  • Steel Cut Oats / Overnight Oats
  • Homemade Instant Oatmeal

Be on the look out for Food Challenges where I’ll get creative in the kitchen and offer you healthy recipes.

First Food Challenge | Salsa Lime Tofu

2.) I’d like to review restaurants, cafes, grocery or food specialty stores once a month. Similar to reviewing The Corner Cafe, this will allow me to get to know what health gems that Lexington offers. Be looking for more “Lex Eats” reviews and recommendations.

3.) I’d like to continue logging on Lose It. This truly is a supportive online community. It’s also an amazing health tracker. You easily log what you eat every day and you can run nutrition reports on any given day. You can evaluate your day or overall week. It’s very insightful, especially on days when I’m working out and need more protein.

4) I’m going to focus on drinking 8 glasses of water and aiming for 90g to 100g of protein everyday. Being almost vegetarian, I have to work hard to ensure that I’m getting enough protein for someone who works out almost every day. I feel best overall when I am on a high protein, lower carb diet and I need to be more mindful of my carb intake by limiting refined carbs, not eliminating my carbs.

5) I am going to stick to a strict grocery budget of under $35 per week. This is plenty for a girl living alone and it restricts impulse buys, which are usually unhealthy choices. I need to make better use of coupons for items I use weekly, too. For the sake of transparency among my readers and for accountability for me, I hope to report my weekly grocery receipt total to you each week.

And finally….

6.) I’m going to begin meal planning at the start of each week instead of prepping everything the night before. This gives me better control of my health choices for the week ahead, and it will reduce stress when I’m in a time crunch. Having a meal plan will help me know what I need to purchase at the grocery by forcing me to take stock of what I currently have in my fridge/freezer/pantry versus what I need to put a meal together, ultimately saving money.

Those are a few realistic aims I’ll be working on in the coming weeks. I’ll let you know how I progress. When I get to work this morning, I’m going to print off this list and hang it on my fridge later to serve as a visual reminder of my goals. Next Friday, I’ll take a look at a different area I’d like to refine.

On a side note, this is what I’ve been enjoying this morning for breakfast:

This morning’s breakfast included a simple egg white omelet with kale, fresh sweet basil, crushed red pepper, Roma tomatoes and Vidalia onions. Because the Derby is tomorrow, I’m also enjoying some chocolate truffle coffee in my Kentucky mug. I’m probably going to have a little greek yogurt before I head to work, too.

I hope you have an amazing Friday. Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

What choices can you make to live a more healthy life when it comes to the topic of Food?
Do you have any suggestions for a girl on a budget?
What foods would you like to see featured in a Food Challenge? 

(LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear from you! To comment click on the comment/dialogue box at the top of this post. Or visit my Contact Me page. You’ll find information  on following me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.) 

Tofu Take 2, AM Workouts & Table Sitting.

This weekend was just what I needed. After my work event on Saturday morning, I simply relaxed the weekend away. With the exception of grocery shopping and church, I really didn’t leave my apartment. While it’s been a great April, it’s been a very busy month with travel and planning a couple of large events. It’s been nice to relax.

Last night’s dinner was amazing. Since I had some leftover tofu, I decided to mix it up a bit. I cut up piece of the Salsa Lime Tofu into a few slices and put it on a frying pan to heat up and crisp the edges. Meanwhile, I prepped a half of a whole wheat pita pocket with a fried egg, Roma tomato and kale. Then I stuffed it with the tofu “scramble”. On the side, I had some cucumber and roasted red pepper hummus. Friends, this meal was mighty delicious.

Even though this dinner was solo, I sat at my dining room table to enjoy my meal. I realized that it’s a shame I don’t use my table as often because I have a fabulous view from my floor to ceiling windows in my “dining room”. (It’s not technically a dining room, because my apartment is tiny. But it’s a nice sunroom that I’ve designated as my dining room.) Sitting there without the tv on, without distraction other than the nature outside allowed me to slow down and enjoy my meal — the art of mindful eating. After finishing my meal, I realized that I want to incorporate this practice more often. Growing up, our family always made time to sit together at the table. And while I’ve always known I wanted to carry on that tradition if I ever have a family if my own, I think I want to start that tradition now…even if it’s just me.

Since my department is going out for lunch today, I decided to get up extra early and workout. Monday’s are usually my heavier workout days, but since I won’t make it to the gym during my lunch hour, I needed to get my fitness in this morning. I usually have Zumba after work, but I have an appointment this afternoon and won’t be able to make that either. (More on that “appointment” later this week. Stay tuned, Lexington.) If I want to make fitness a priority, I have to find the time. So, it meant me getting up a little earlier than normal. My workout consisted of a total body strength workout.
3 sets of 12 reps of the following:

  • Sumo squats with 10lb. dumbbell
  • Hammer curl to press
  • Dumbbell deadlifts
  • Single-arm, neutral-grip dumbbell row and rotation
  • Dumbbell pullover

Breakfast had to be put together in a flash and thanks to planning ahead last night, I knew exactly what I was going to make this morning. I’m currently chowing down on an egg white omelet with kale, Vidalia onions, Roma tomatoes, crushed red pepper and FRESH SWEET BASIL! My plant that I bought on Earth Day has finally matured enough to pick a few leaves from the plant and place in this omelet. The fresh basil adds so much more flavor than the dried version in my pantry.

Well, I’m off to start another week of work. There are a lot of fun things planned this week and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Where do you eat your meals? At the table, in the car, on the floor infront of the T.V.?

Food Challenge | Salsa Lime Tofu Recipe.

Happy Sunday to all! I hope you have a restful and relaxing day ahead of you. I’m excited to share a new recipe today, so if you are looking to try something new for dinner this week, this delicious and nutritious dinner recipe might be just the thing for you! But before I get into dinner, let me show you what I’m enjoying right now for Sunday breakfast:

I know what you’re thinking, “where’s your typical egg white omelet?” Frankly, I woke up with a couple of things on my mind: banana bread oatmeal (Quaker Weight Control) and peanut butter (Krema simply the best). I like my oatmeal on the dry side because I think it tastes like you’re eating a cookie. Strange, right? I also had vanilla greek yogurt for some protein. (I took frozen blueberries, no sugar added, heated them in the microwave for a few seconds and put the yogurt on top. The warm and cold created a delicious morning treat!) I also opted for no coffee now because there will be some available when I go to church in just a bit. I didn’t want have caffeine overload and be jittery during service.

Without further delay, I’m really pumped to share with a new recipe created by yours truly. Here’s a sneak peek:

Food Challenge: I decided to challenge myself to create a new recipe using an ingredient I was intimidated by…Tofu. Because it receives mix reviews (some people love it, some people can’t stand it) I was determined to make a healthy recipe. I consider myself 99.9% vegetarian, so I’m always looking to up my daily intake of protein. I’ve been told that Tofu is an excellent way to do that. While I’ve, on limited occasions, had tofu at restaurants, I wasn’t sure I could use it in a recipe at home. That’s why I’ve never purchased it at the grocery until now. I was amazed to find that the tofu I purchased was pretty inexpensive.

The full recipe is at the bottom of this post, but I first wanted to walk you through my first tofu cooking experience. I have read that tofu is fairly bland on its own but will take on the flavors you pair with it. I decided to create my own simple marinade. I took the photo below to give you a visual ingredient guide, but since I was creating a marinade from scratch, I added an additional ingredient not photographed: a bit of Vidalia onions.

It's a simple yet tasty marinade, sans the Vidalia onion.

For fellow tofu chef newbies, you first drain the water from the tofu block. Then cut the block of tofu in shapes/pieces and sizes you want. I placed these pieces in a Tupperware container so I could marinade them after I created the mix.

Simple marinade consisting of medium salsa, spicy mustard, vidalia onion, dried sweet basil and limeI

I covered the tofu with this marinade and left it in the fridge for a couple of hours to soak up the flavors. I prepped a baking sheet for the oven and placed the tofu pieces on a lightly greased sheet. I cooked the tofu at 375 for 40 minutes. This marinade really made my apartment smell delicious and I was ready to eat it when it came out of the oven.

I decided to plate the tofu with some simple steamed vegetables: cauliflower and carrots. This really turned out to be a delicious dinner. It was just enough without making me feel too full. It left me with plenty of leftovers. I think that this would be great cut up and tossed in a green salad, in a breakfast scramble, or in a sandwich/pita. I’m realizing that the options for tofu really are endless.

Before I share the recipe I created I wanted to share some after thoughts. Now that I’ve created a basic recipe to use for the future, there are a few things I’d add to this recipe. First, I’d add some diced Roma tomatoes. Maybe this is because I love Roma tomatoes, but I think they’re flavor could add a lot to the recipe. Second, I’d add a dark green like Kale or Spinach for some texture and to add some green to the plate. And finally, I’d bake it for another 10 or so minutes to make the edges more crisp. Other than that, I truly think that this was a tofu success and I’m already looking forward to stepping up my tofu game next time. As promised, here’s my full recipe with the nutrition breakdown:

Salsa Lime Tofu
Makes 6 slices

Ingredients:

1 package of firm tofu
5 tablespoons of medium salsa
2 teaspoons of spicy brown mustard
1 lime
1/8 cup of  Vidalia onion
1 teaspoon dried ground basil
Cooking Spray

Drain block of tofu. Slice block into 6 pieces. Mix marinade ingredients and pour over tofu slices. Marinate for at least 1 hour, longer for stronger flavor. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare baking sheet with canola oil spray. Place slices on baking sheet and cook for about an hour. Enjoy warm!

Nutrition Information Per Slice:
Calories: 122, Total Fat: 5.8g, Sat. Fat .7g, Cholest. 0mg, Sodium 284.1mg, Carb. 8.3g, Fiber 3.5g, Sugars 1.9g, Protein 10g.
 

I had a great time challenging myself in the kitchen yesterday. I’m looking forward to incorporating more tofu in my everyday diet. I’m strongly considering making healthy, fun food challenges like this part of my “food goals” as I continue refining my Fitness, Food, Love and Finance goals.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:
Do you like Tofu? Do you have a favorite tofu recipe? Please share!

(LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear from you! To comment click on the comment/dialogue box at the top of this post. Or visit my Contact Me page. You’ll find information  on following me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.) 

The Joys Of Apartment Living & Healthy Resources.

This morning’s breakfast is brought to you by Kale. And lots of it.

My egg white omelet is absolutely fantastic this morning. Because it’s Saturday and I’ll need to go to the grocery tomorrow, I’m running out of a few items in my kitchen. This makes me get creative with my cooking and I’m glad I prepped this last night. I made it a little different than my usual omelet recipe using only egg whites, kale (lots of vitamin K today), Vidalia onions, salmon and dried basil. I prepped this last night so the flavors came together nicely. I added about half a servering of Athenos Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Delicious!

Chocolate truffle coffe and a protein packed breakfast is JUST what I need for my big day ahead!

I love where I live. It’s convenient to everything Lexington has to offer. My complex is generally quiet and safe. Everyone is friendly and cordial toward their neighbor. However, the simple idea of aparment living for anyone, anywhere always results in apartment “joys” (insert sarcasm here). You just never know what’s going to hit you next living in an apartment. I thought I had my share of apartment “woes” behind me. Alas, the list seems to continue on with one thing after the next.

Last night I came home to discover what seemed like a thousand bugs in the windows of my bedroom. YUCK! I quickly grabbed the vacuum to tackle this mess. But my vacuum got caught in the curtains, pulled them down, broke the blinds and created and even bigger mess! I had to throw away my curtains as they had tons of these ugly beasts crawling on them (makes me squeamish just thinking of it!) and they got tangled and ripped with the vacuum disaster. Since the bugs were coming through my window, I knew this was a problem that my maintenance would have to solve. Unfortunately, it was past time for the office staff to be around so I sent an S.O.S email (probably sounding a little too flustered) and requested that they be here this AM. Here’s hoping because I don’t want to sleep in my living room for a second night. My bed is just too comfortable…

Anyway, I thought I’d take a brief second to share with you just a few of the resources I use constantly to stay informed about fitness and overall health:

  • Magazines – Women’s Health, Eating Well
  • Podcasts – Nutrition Diva & Get Fit Guy Quick and Dirty Tips, Jillian Michaels)
  • Twitter – I follow so many inspirational bloggers, fitness leaders, health promotors/ambassadors. Why not follow me on Twitter and take a look at who I follow for some ideas. (@wishandwhimsy)
  • Blogs/Websites (FitFluential, Peanut Butter Fingers, The Lean Green Bean, Dashing Dish, Greatist, Summer Tomato, Fitbie, FitSugar, etc. just to name a few)
  • Pinterest – This is a great place to find fitness and health articles. I find workout inspiration, how-to videos and healthy recipes from a variety of sources. Follow me on Pinterest and you can see my Fitness and Nutrition boards to see what I’m currently learning about or incorporating into my fitness routines.
  • Books – I’m currently reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I really love his food rules and have incorporated many to my everyday, balanced diet.

In just a few minutes I’m leaving for my BIG work event. I was planning on coming home after the event, but now I’m going to have to go look for some new curtains.

On a different note, I’ve decided to try my hand at a tofu recipe for dinner tonight. This is my first tofu attempt, and I’m coming up with my own recipe. Wish me luck and I’ll report back attempt tomorrow, successful or not.

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

What resources do you use to stay fitness/health informed?
Have you ever tried or made tofu? If so, any recommendations for my first time?
Just for fun, do you have any recent apartment horror stories?  

 

Refining Goals | Fitness, Food, Love, Finances.

It’s Friday which means it’s bound to be a great day! I hope you have fun plans this weekend. I have to work a large event for my office tomorrow morning, and then I’m going to put my feet up and rest and relax.

Before I get into today’s post about refining personal goals, here’s a look at the energy boosting breakfast I’m thoroughly enjoying this morning:

Egg white scramble with lots of spinach, veggies and tuna. A mug of chocolate truffle coffee.

I’m proud to say I’ve come a long way in the past year. I set out on a journey to discover and learn about health matters, nutrition and fitness. Little did I know that the preliminary research would change my life positively forever. Personal health and  promoting healthy living has become a true passion and joy of mine and I don’t ever see that changing. I love learning more about what I can do to feel better about myself, the way I physically feel and how I look.

As with everything you’re passionate about and pursuing, there comes a time when you need to reevaluate what you’re doing to expand your passion. This especially happens with fitness. So many of us get into a “fitness rut”. At that point, you decide either to quit or you decided to redirect and refine your plan. I’m ready to refine my plan.

When I first started truly pursuing a healthy lifestyle, I didn’t begin with a plan. I simply wanted to research and try new things. I started seeing results so I kept researching, reading and working out harder. These changes only made me want to dig deeper into overall health. I had a few “goals” or “aims”, like go to the gym at least 3 times a week (in the beginning), increase certain reps, try new workouts and cross over into the weight room. These smaller goals were attainable, but not necessarily challenging. For me, this worked. This approach helped me form healthy habits, like using part of my work lunch hour to head to the gym or prepare healthy foods for the week to maintain control of what I am putting into my body.

While these are great habits, I’ve realized that I’m at the point where I’m ready to set higher goals for me. I want to feel the rush of completing a goal that was very challenging for me. That pushed me. That made me a better person. So what does that look like?

Since I am into the idea of living a balanced healthy lifestyle, it’s important to evaluate a few different areas I want to challenge myself and not just focus on fitness. Health is more than working out. So here are a few areas I’m looking to push myself out of my comfort zone: Fitness, Food, Love (all relationships, from family and friends), Finances.

While these ares will require further thought these are some ideas I’m tossing around under each category, though I’m going to pare these down so I can truly focus on achieving these goals and will add more in the future:

  • Fitness: Rather than focus on Total Body strength workouts, designate days of the week to work certain muscle groups. Incorporate running into workouts. I know I’m capable of running, it’s just something I don’t enjoy. This I’m thinking is run a mile for warm ups 3 times a week before lunch workouts.
  • Food: Hit 100g of protein each day, no matter what. Create a new healthy recipe every week. Meal plan for the week, not just the night before.
  • Love: Incorporate a random act of kindness each week. Wednesday’s post made me realize that we receive so much joy when you make another person smile. Big or small.
  • Finances: Stay at or under my grocery budget each week. It may be a tight budget, but I’ve found that if I pay attention to sales and stay on my target, then I have enough food for the week, I don’t waste (as most of my purchases expire in 1-2 weeks), and I don’t make impulse purchases. Another idea is to increase the amount I’m paying on my student loans, which I’m proud to report that I made a large payment this past week.

I plan to focus more on these goals through a Friday series, “Friday Refine”. It’s important to constantly evaluate and measure your progress toward achieving your goals. This is what I’m designating for some upcoming Fridays. I’ll evaluate my progress or be honest about my the lack of. Designating this one day allows me to reflect and focus on making my goals attainable. So, starting today a full week to figure out my challenges and plan ahead. I’ll report back next Friday with the plan.

Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

When was the last time you refined your goals? What did you tweak?
What are you currently working toward now?
What fun plans are you looking forward to most about the weekend? 

(LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear from you! To comment click on the comment/dialogue box at the top of this post. Or visit my Contact Me page. You’ll find information  on following me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.) 

Refreshing Smoothie and Healthy Munchies.

So. Good. Period.

I have a new, refreshing Green Protein Smoothie to share with you. It’s not too sweet, not too mild. It’s simply a perfect balance. The flavors blend very well together, nothing overpowering, and the drink provides a refreshing energy boost.

Ingredients:
1/2 Scoop of Vanilla Protein Powder
2oz of Fage, 0% Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2C Vanilla Soy Milk
1T Krema Peanut Butter (You can use any kind of Peanut Butter you prefer, but my favorite is Krema. No salt, no sugar, just straight up creamy peanuts!)
1C Organic Spinach
1/2 Frozen Banana
1/4T Xanthan Gum (Used for thickening. I use Bob’s Red Mill which I found at Kroger.)
3g  Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips, 60% (Why not enjoy tiny bits of dark chocolate in the mix? Plus, this only equals 4 chocolate chips when measured on the kitchen scale.)

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 327, Total Fat: 12.7g, Sat. Fat 1.9g, Cholest. 25mg, Sodium 152.6mg, Carb. 27.6g, Fiber 5.8g, Sugars 14g, Protein 29.5g.

This smoothie is so refreshing and I am confident you will enjoy it. I tried so hard to scrape out every last taste in the my jar/glass! For additional protein packed smoothie recipes, visit my Recipe page.

Last night I was feeling a bit munchy, but I wanted to eat healthy. Days I work out harder make me really focused on making the right choices. I think this “being focused” mentality is created because I know I worked hard to maintain and progress my overall fitness and I don’t want to waste the effort I exerted.

I was looking for high protein, lower calorie snacks. Something that would satisfy me for the evening. I also wanted something crunchy, but not carb loaded. So I had a dilemma. I had to get creative.

While watching American Idol, I decided on 1 container of vanilla greek yogurt (Kroger brand) topped with 1/4C of bran flakes with just a dash of cinnamon. This gave me about 15 grams of protein and about the same carbs. I’ll take that all for under 135 calories.

I have a busy day ahead trying to wrap up some last-minute details for a work event happening this Saturday. So, I’m running out the door as soon as I finish my energy boosting breakfast, coffee included of course! Here’s a look at what I’m currently chowing down on for breakfast. I was going to add in some fresh basil, but I thought I’d let my plant mature for a few more days.

My morning 3 Egg White Omelet, loaded with veggies, spinach and tuna.

Wishing you all the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

What are your favorite high protein or healthy late night snacks?
Who are you cheering on for American Idol? 

The Cupcake Dilemma.

Disclaimer: This is not a post about making healthy cupcakes. Sorry to disappoint.

Ever have one of those weeks? I’m not by any means implying that I’m having a “bad week”. It’s just one of those work weeks where you can’t catch your breath because you have so much on your plate before you. I have a big event this weekend, but after Saturday morning, I’ll be sitting pretty for awhile. I can see the light…For now though, work is a little stressful. People around me are all a flutter until our event is complete. I’m trying to maintain a healthy balance in the office, having both a positive disposition and an eager attitude.

Today, one of my colleagues saw me in a moment of weakness. He empathized with me, knowing there is a lot going on. Wanting to be helpful and alleviate some of what is weighing down, even if temporarily, he bought me a cupcake. Not just any cupcake. A gorgeous masterpiece of cake from the unmatchable, delicious Caramanda’s in Lexington. Read the description below for this “Chocolate Explosion” cupcake of chocolate goodness:

“Mouthwatering double chocolate chip cake is paired with chocolate buttercream frosting, rimmed in chocolate chips and drizzled with chocolate fudge”

While this is an incredibly sweet (literally) gesture between coworkers, I didn’t *need* the cupcake. I did express my extreme gratitude for the delicious treat. Thoughtful gifts, gestures, encouragements like this don’t happen often enough in the work place. Random acts of kindness, unfortunately, are often dismissed or disregarded. I try to look for ways that I can positively impact the workplace, and I praise those who are affirming, like the gentleman did for me in my office today.

After taking the sweet gift back to my office, I faced a dilemma. I was staring temptation head on for an entire afternoon. Do I eat the cupcake because someone gave it to me? Do I eat the cupcake as a temporary way to relieve stress? Do I eat the chocolate cupcake goodness for a temporary lift? Do I eat it not to waste it? What do I do?

Please do not mistake me, I appreciated very much the cupcake, the thought behind him giving it to me. I took away a feeling of being appreciated and valued as a person because he went the extra mile to make me smile. So, what did I do? I didn’t eat it. I kept it boxed, and any time I thought of it yesterday, I smiled and thought about the act of kindness. I truly didn’t need the cupcake. I hadn’t planned for it in my daily meals or the calories that coincide with it. I had healthier options on the menu.

So, what’d I do with it? I put it in my freezer at home. I’ll enjoy it when I’m ready for it, or a small bite at a time when the chocolate craving actually hits. I’ll have fun looking for away to return the smile, the appreciation and feeling of being valued to my coworkers. Because that’s what was truly filling about the cupcake yesterday. I’ll keep you posted on my random act of kindness.

On the fitness side of things, I’ve got a great mix of strength and cardio today. I plan on completing a 30 minute Total Body free weight circuit with additional leg focused exercises. Then I have Zumba after work.

In case you’re wondering and here’s what I chowed down on while writing this post, a real breakfast winner!

1 Hard-boiled egg white, Banana Bread Quaker Oatmeal topped with cinnamon and 1T of Krema Peanut Butter. I enjoyed this with a mug of chocolate truffle coffee.

I updated my “Contact Me” page to include Wish and Whimsy’s new Facebook page. Check it out and “Like” me on Facebook.

Wishing you the best. katie

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

What would you have done? Eat the cupcake or not eat the cupcake?

How do you show your coworkers appreciation or let them know you’re there to support them in stressful times?

What are your fitness plans today?

(LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear from you! To comment click on the comment/dialogue box at the top of this post. Or visit my Contact Me page. You’ll find information  on following me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.) 

Sweet Basil & A Healthy Tuna Salad.

Before I get into today’s thoughts, let me share with you what I’m thoroughly enjoying for breakfast right now:

This is a real winner on a chilly morning like today.

Breakfast includes Maple Brown Sugar & Pecan Oatmeal with Pumpkin Pie Spice and Cinnamon (an excellent pantry staple item), Vanilla Greek yogurt with a dash of Cinnamon, and amazingly smooth Chocolate Truffle Coffee.

On a side note, the Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie that I enjoyed for yesterday’s breakfast was delicious. It was a bit sweet, but it tasted so much like dessert. It was thick and filling. I couldn’t finish it all. It also kept me full of energy all morning long.

How did you spend your Earth Day 2012?

I had grand plans for a nice picnic in the lawn, with the sunshine on my shoulders and a good book in hand. Didn’t happen. WAY too cold for me. So instead, after church I went to the grocery to restock my fridge for the week. On my way home, stopped by this cute little nursery called Sunshine Growers to pick up a Sweet Basil plant so I can have fresh herbs when I cook. The gentleman there was very nice, helping me pick out just the right plant and offering growing tips.

Do you see all of those UK flags? GO CATS!!!

On my way home, I put the small basil plant in my car’s cup holder next to my coffee cup for safe transportation.

Basil Car Seat

A car seat for my new basil plant. This herb made my car smell amazing.

Reusing a planter I had on hand, I quickly potted my new Sweet Basil plant and it’s now enjoying some sunlight in my sun room.  That’s one way to celebrate Earth Day 2012, right? One thing I love about Basil is that it’s truly a great plant for those of us who have apartments. They don’t need to be outside. Just simply some sunlight and water.

I can't get enough of this beauty.

Last night I played around in the kitchen and came up with a delicious and nutritious Tuna Salad recipe. It was SO good. It made 5 servings so I’ll be having this for lunch throughout the week. How about I share my recipe with you?

Tuna Salad – Makes 5, 4 oz servings

Ingredients:
2 cans of chunk light tuna
1/2 cup Fage 0% PLAIN Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber slices
1/4 cup Vidalia onion
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix all together and refrigerate. Even more flavorful the next day. I added this to a whole wheat pita pocket and topped with 3 slices of Roma tomatoes. The Nutrition Information below is for the Tuna Salad only, per 4oz serving.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 89, Total Fat: 2.6g, Sat. Fat .7, Cholest.92.8mg, Sodium 178.4mg, Carb. 2.3g, Fiber .2g, Sugars 1.6g, Protein 13.9g.

I’m excited to let you know that I  am having a guest post on the blog tomorrow. For all you single ladies out there, he’s really cute and a real gentleman. (I can plug him because I’m his sister.)
Some exciting news, my Green Monster Smoothie was featured on TUiN as a Dinner Idea. Thanks for the feature, TUiN!

Wishing you all the best. Katie

QUESTION OF THE DAY:
How did you celebrate Earth Day 2012? 

(LEAVE A COMMENT: I’d love to hear from you! To comment click on the comment/dialogue box at the top of this post. Or visit my Contact Me page. You’ll find information  on following me on TwitterPinterest and more.)