Easy Dinner- Pasta with Meat Sauce

Now that I am a stay at home mom, I realize I need to be more “domestic”. I have always loved decorating my home and have never minded cleaning. I also love baking. However, I am not a huge fan of cooking. Jim typically did all the cooking for us. But now we have a crazy 9 month old, and by the time Jim gets home and makes dinner, it is Connor’s bedtime. I realized that something needs to change. I am making a concerted effort to get better at making healthy, semi-fast week night meals. I thought it would be fun to document them on the blog in case anyone else needs ideas for weeknight dinners, and to note any epic fails, which I am sure will occur! 

 

Last night was my first night of doing this, so it’s still a work in progress! I stuck with a simple dinner of salad, garlic bread, and pasta with meat sauce.  Super easy!

Salad

This was a spinach salad with red onion and candied pecans. I also made a yummy vinaigrette.  I just threw in some olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and sugar. It really made the salad.


 

Pasta with Meat Sauce

I browned up some ground beef with garlic and olive oil. Then I just combined it with a store-bought sauce and whole wheat spaghetti.

 

Garlic Bread

This is a total no brainer! We had bought two loaves of French bread on the weekend, so I just put some butter and garlic and popped them in the oven while everything else cooked.

 

Overall

This meal was easy and fool-proof. I always make sure to try to do the dishes as I go so that there isn’t a huge clean up after dinner. There were a few pots and pans to wash but that’s to be expected. This meal is pretty healthy, and of course the garlic bread could be eliminated, and ground turkey could be swapped for the ground beef.

 

 

 

 

 

October Goals


I am still trying to get myself together in terms of balancing staying home full time with my baby, writing, and working as a writing tutor.  I struggle with feeling like I didn’t accomplish what I intended to at the end of each day.  Partially, I set my goals so high, that there is no way I can possibly do everything in the 24 hours we are all given.  I have decided to take a good look at my schedule and what I want to do with my day, and focus on the most important things.  Heather gave me the idea to set some goals for October, and then revisit them at the end of the month to see how I did.

 

Move everyday

I have given up on the idea that I will complete a formal workout everyday.  My baby is a really bad sleeper, and there are many, many days when I need to take a nap in order to survive, and that takes precedence over working out.  Now I have decided to focus on doing something everyday- whether it is a nap time yoga flow, a run with the jogging stroller, or even just a nice long walk outside, something is better than nothing, and that is what I will focus on for October.

Eat more veggies

I have been horrible lately about eating vegetables.  I usually eat some fruit during the day, but no veggies until dinnertime.  My goal is to eat some vegetables with lunch everyday.

 

Settle in to our new home

We are renovating a house and hopefully it will be done in October.  I’ll be doing a full post soon.  I just want to move in and start getting settled in, without getting stressed out.  The thought of unpacking a whole house full of things with a crazy 8 month old baby seems quite daunting!

Sleep

This is an ongoing, unattainable goal.  I have been better lately about taking a nap when I am sleep deprived.  In the past I would just try to power through the day and drink extra coffee, but when I am super tired, I am unproductive, I get sick, and I am crabby, so sleep is a priority.  Once we are settled in to our new home, I am going to do some form of sleep training, but in the meantime, napping is my saving grace!

Wash my face each night

Kind of tied into the no sleeping thing- once bedtime rolls around I’m pooped and the thought of washing my face seems too exhausting.  I am trying really hard to change this bad habit.  It only takes a few minutes and my wrinkles will thank me later 😉

 

Do lots of fall activities

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I plan on taking full advantage of the month of October to go a pumpkin farm, go on a hayride, and eat apple cider donuts!

 

 

 

 

Return to healthiness

I’ve taken a hiatus from blogging for a while. I’m a little unsure of what direction I want to take the blog, and am considering some different options. I also have a colicky little baby to tend to so I haven’t had much time for anything!
 I have been focusing on my health a lot! Since I’m 11 weeks postpartum I am finally feeling almost like myself again! I’m cleared to exercise moderately and am ready to return to my old self, or a new version of it. 

I am currently in physical therapy because of my rough delivery, so I can’t do much but I’m not letting that bring me down! 

I know I can’t just jump back into my old fitness routines so I’m taking it slow. Right now my daily routine is: 

Walking everyday 

Squats and lunges 

Planks 

Push ups 

Or 

Yoga from Yoga download

Or a stroller strides class or workout dvd 

I’m starting small and can’t wait to be back in shape enough to return to running and hot yoga! 

In terms of eating my plan is: 

Veggies and/or fruit with each meal

Lots of water

One treat a day- either a small glass of wine or a piece of chocolate so I don’t feel deprived 

So far that’s it! Nothing crazy or super disciplined since I’m navigating mommy hood and also nursing so I can’t restrict calories at all. I have decided to be happy with my new body. Yes it’s curvier and I weigh more than I used to but it is for good reason! 

    

100 Calories

During my pregnancy, especially in my third trimester, my workouts have changed drastically.  It was actually, one of the things I was most surprised about.  I thought I would be one of those pregnant ladies who kept up the same or similar workouts for the whole 9 months.  I was wrong!  I had to listen to my body and care for my baby and dial my workouts WAY back.  I used to be an avid hot yoga sculpt student, and loved running half marathons. I was used to pushing my body to the max, and I loved it!  This was a big change for me!  Throughout my pregnancy, I knew I had two choices:  throw all of my previous hard work out and eat whatever I wanted, or be healthy and moderate, in different ways than in the past. In general, I think I have done a pretty good job of being healthy and moderate.  Yes, I eat dessert everyday!  But that doesn’t mean I have lost all self control.  In terms of workouts, I decided to go with the matra that “something is better than nothing”.  There are so many ways to add or subtract 100 calories in a day . Hungry at 3 pm?  There are tons of snacks that are around 100 calories.  Too tired or time crunched for a full workout?  There are plenty of ways to burn 100 calories.  Here are some of my favorite ways to burn 100 calories, and some of my favorite 100 calorie snacks!

Workouts 

15 Minutes of Weight Lifting

Some mornings I wake up and feel pretty much like I’ve been hit by a train I’m so tired!  While it is SO tempting to go back to bed a little longer, or just go for the coffee, I oftentimes do a small workout.  Squats, lunges, planks, bicep curls, triceps, and rows are my usual go-to exercises.  It just takes 15 minutes to do these, and I feel like I’m keeping up my strength, as well as moving a bit.

  
20 Minutes of Yoga

Yoga has been my godsend this pregnancy.  I obviously have always been a yoga lover (hence the name of my blog!!) but of course had to change around the type of yoga I do.  While I miss a sweaty, hot, yoga sculpt class, I have turned to prenatal yoga to get the same benefits. I still feel the burn, get a good stretch, and feel mentally calm at the end.  I try to do 30-40 minutes, but sometimes even 20 does the trick!


30 Minutes of Walking

When the weather isn’t horrible (Chicago has been lucky enough to have plenty of mild days this winter) Jim and I make it a point to go outside after dinner for a walk.  We both have fitness trackers (Fitbit for me, and Garmin Vivo Fit for him), and it is fun to try t get all our steps in in a day.  Walking has so many benefits, and it always makes me feel less full and bloated after dinner.  Sometimes we go on longer walks, but always aim for at least a half hour.  It is always fun to check out the neighborhood and catch up on our day together.


Snacks

 

Cheese and Apple

I like pretty much all cheese!  I usually have a string cheese or a Babybel cheese and an apple as an afternoon snack to tide me over before dinner. 

 
  
Yogurt

A container of Greek yogurt is a powerhouse for protein and calcium (which pregnant mamas need lots of!) and keeps me full for a long time.  I love adding a little cereal or granola to it to make it more exciting.I always gravitate towards Greek yogurt because it is all natural.  Other yogurts are loaded with sugar and preservatives.  I love the new Chobani Simply 100 Crunch because it is low in calories, and the crunch adds a fun, yummy addition to the snack.  Chobani Simply 100 has lots of really interesting information and even compares 3 types of 100 calorie yogurt.

  
Chips and Salsa

My other favorite afternoon snack is chips and salsa.  I always pick a natural, healthy version of a tortilla chip, and there are so many yummy varieties of salsa.  All you have to do is watch the portions, as they can quickly get to be massive with this delicious snack!

  

  #chobani

#chobani100

What I Ate Wednesday 

Here is everything I ate yesterday! I am linking up with  http://peasandcrayons.com/!

Breakfast- 2 eggs with cheese, and a multigrain English muffin


Snack- watermelon! Can’t get enough!!


Lunch- leftovers from our dinner at RPM Italian. I had pappardele bolonese and the noodles were homemade. Homemade noodles make a huge difference in taste! So delicious! I also had a salad with feta and olive oil.

  
My leftovers were pretty small so I had a snack in the afternoon- cut up veggies, hummus, and pretzel chips.


Since we are leaving on Friday for vacation we are using up what is in the kitchen. So for dinner I had couscous with feta, an unpictured chopped up tomato, and MORE wedding cake. I can’t stop! Thankfully I froze the rest to save myself from a sugar coma :)

Celebrating our First Wedding Anniversary

 Sunday was our first anniversary!  I can’t believe how incredibly fast this year flew by.  Our first year has been easier than I expected.  Everyone told me to have low expectations and to realize that there will be problems and growing pains.  I was pleasantly surprised, and think our relationship got stronger throughout the year.  I am so lucky to be married to such a wonderful man!


 

   To celebrate our anniversary we spent the whole day together.  It was lovely!  We were going to go out of town, but we have been so busy lately, so we decided to just stay here.  We started our day with our respective workouts- T25 for me, and a run for him.  Then we headed out to the bakery that made our wedding cake.  They have an awesome deal where if you send them some professional pictures from our wedding of the cake, they will make a new cake top for your anniversary for free!  After picking up our cake, we saw the movie Trainwreck, which was hilarious!  I laughed the whole time.  We had dinner downtown at RPM Italian, and totally forgot to take a picture all dressed up!   Afterwards we exchanged gifts, ate our cake, and watched our wedding video.  All in all, a great way to spend our anniversary.  I can’t wait to see where this year takes us!

  

What I Ate Wednesday

This is my second WIAW post! Here are all of my eats from yesterday (Tuesday). I didn’t change anything about the way I ate… Just a normal day!  I am linking up http://peasandcrayons.com/ to join in the fun of WIAW!
For breakfast I made eggs with cheese and half a bagel. The bagel got super burnt! After taking one bite I decided to toss it and make the other half.

Much better!


Coffee of course!!


I had some cherries as a morning snack.


We have tons of leftovers from having so many people over, so for lunch I went with a small piece of Lou Malnati’s cheese deep dish. The best!!!

To make my lunch a little healthier I had half of a sliced cucumber.


My afternoon snack was crackers with peanut butter. I typically try to always have a fruit or veggie with, or as my snack but needed to go to the grocery store so is made do with this!

I didn’t go to the grocery store until I was STARVING- always a mistake! I grabbed a sushi roll for dinner because I was too hungry to make anything.

 I also had a salad with arugula, spinach, tomatoes, and olive oil.


For dessert I had a nestle yogurt bar. This was a peach one. So delicious! I may or may not have gone back for a second one 😉 Nestlé outshine

What I Ate Wednesday

This is my first time doing a What I Ate Wednesday post!  I’m so excited to start this fun and link up with so many other bloggers http://peasandcrayons.com

I started my day with a big jug of water!  I have been trying so hard to start the day off hydrated.

 Then I had Shakeology.  I had chocolate with chocolate milk and fresh mint.  It was so delicious!  juliaschachtfitness.com I have been experimenting with lots of flavors lately, and they are all so good!  The trick is to add other ingredients to turn it into a true smoothie. 

 Later that morning I had a snack- Rainier cherries straight out of the bag.  I can’t get enough of these this summer.   They are so sweet.  I could eat them like candy!

 For lunch I had really random assortment of leftover food.  I haven’t been to the store this week, so I was scrounging around for something semi healthy.  I made a quesadilla with cheese, and a salad with olive oil.  I also had a fruit and veggie bar from Nestle for dessert. 





I headed to my future sister in law’s hair trial for her wedding! Beforehand, I stopped into Starbucks and got a passion iced tea, plus two snacks.  I got a Kind bar, and tried a new flavor- almond coconut cashew chai.  It was SO good!  I loved the combo of coconut and chai flavors. I also got a fruit and nut blend for some extra protein.





 Since this is my first WIAW post, I totally forgot to take a picture of my dinner!  Oops!  First timer mistake.  I had Greek food, and ordered white fish with veggies, and rice pudding for dessert.  Next week I will be sure to take better pictures and take pictures of my dinner! :)

My Weight Loss Story

It was January 2014.  I went to put on a pair of jeans, and I couldn’t physically get them onto my legs.  I knew that I had not been eating well or working out enough for the past few months, but this was my ah ha moment.  I had just gotten engaged and I wanted to get married feeling my best.  I knew this wasn’t my best.  I have never been a person who is overweight, and I was still not overweight at this time.  I never really struggled with weight, and pretty much ate healthy.  However, I noticed that once I turned 30, my metabolism slowed down a little.  I couldn’t just eat wings and fries and drink beer with no repercussions, like I used to.  I had just moved in with Jim that September, and basically ate whatever he ate.  Chips and dip?  Sure!  Craft beer?  Yes please!  Pizza and wings?  Why not!  Needless to say, I wasn’t able to keep that up for long.  Since Jim is 6’2″ and I am 5’4″, I knew I couldn’t eat what he ate on a regular basis.  I also knew that starving myself and using fad diets don’t work for me.  I am not the type of person to try juice cleanses or cabbage soup diets. I went back to my old stand by.  I had completed P90X a few years back, and liked some of the workouts, and the eating plan.  I pulled out my old DVDs and the eating plan.  I started following the eating plan, and doing the cardio and leg workouts.  I also kept going to hot yoga classes.  The weight started coming off!  In January of 2014 I weighed 134 pounds, and by March of 2014 I weighed 125 pounds.  I was so proud of myself!  I added in Insanity to mix things up, and started running again.  At the time of my wedding I weighed 122 pounds.  I didn’t follow the P90X eating plan for long, but it reminded me of the basics of healthy eating.  A protein, healthy carb, and fruit or vegetable with each meal.  Plus 2 snacks a day.  Because I ate this way, I was never starving, and never felt deprived.  I still indulged in treats on a regular basis- either something sweet, or a drink.  I had some dark chocolate instead of a huge dessert.  I had a glass of wine instead of a carb-heavy beer.  One of the most important things I did was to stop eating when I was satisfied.  I never allow myself to get stuffed, because that is when I feel miserable!  I still eat this way, and, for me, it is the key to success.  My workouts have changed throughout the last year and a half.  I continued running and hot yoga.  I did Piyo, T 25, and now am doing 21 Day Fix.  This winter, I was doing Piyo and running a lot, and I added in Shakeology.  I drank Shakeology for my breakfast everyday, and lost 3 more pounds.  Now I have leveled out at 119 pounds, which is a healthy weight for someone who is 5’4″.  I feel great about myself, and I feel healthy.  I am in the best shape of my life!  There was no magic trick, pill or quick fix.  Portion sizes, exercise, and moderation!