Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sheperd's Pie with Mashed Cauliflower

So, I am in this phase where I seem to be on a "creating my own recipes" kick.  Sometimes the process of finding a recipe that I have all the ingredients for takes time and then the constant need to reference the recipe seems daunting day after day, so I have been creating recipes with ingredients in the house and so far, they have all passed the test.  My most recent was Shepherd's Pie with mashed cauliflower.  My plan initially was to make cauliflower crust pizza but then decided I wanted something leaner.  So, here it is! 

Sherpherd's Pie with Mashed Cauliflower 
Ingredients: Part 1
1-1.25 lbs lean hamburg (you can also substitute ground turkey) 
1 medium onion, chopped 
3 carrots, chopped 
1 1/2 cups of peas 
Handful of chopped mushrooms 
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce  
Adobo and garlic powder (of course...my staples)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
In large skillet add the hamburg, onion, mushrooms and sprinkle with adobo and garlic powder. Cook until meat is cooked through.
Meanwhile steam carrots for 5-10 minutes until soft.
Cook peas following directions. (Mine were frozen so I boiled for 5 minutes). 
Add carrots and peas to hamburg mixture in skillet and add your Worcestershire sauce. 
Mix together and keep on low heat for 5-10 minutes. 
Add salt and pepper to taste. 
Ingredients: Part 2
Mashed Cauliflower: 
1 head cauliflower 
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon butter 
1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley 
Sea salt and pepper to taste 

Break apart cauliflower and place into boiling water.
Boil for about 5-10 minutes until tender.
Place into food processor and blend until smooth.
Add the other ingredients and blend again. 

Once you complete Part 1 and 2 - In a baking dish put hamburg mixture on the bottom and spread mashed cauliflower on top.  Bake on 350 for 25-30 minutes.  
*You can top with cheese or paprika if you would like. 
**Since there are basically no carbs in this recipe, shockingly (that was sarcasm), the kids wanted to eat again about 30 minutes later...so you may want to serve with some homemade bread on the side. ;) 
                      Steps 1 and 2 cooking
                 Part 1 - Completed

Seems like a lot of steps but it is actually pretty quick since you prepare everything at once.  It's just kind of wordy!  Hope you enjoy!
~Erin Leigh

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Turkey Meatloaf

Looking for something to make for dinner tonight? Meal planning for your week? Try this one! I came up with it Friday when I didn't feel like cooking, but needed to make the ground turkey that was defrosted.  Thankfully it passed the family test so I'm passing it on! Hope you like it! 

Turkey Meatloaf
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 grated carrot (yes I snuck in some veggies)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 egg
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon adobo
1 teaspoon parsley

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix all ingredients together in medium size bowl.
Place in loaf pan.
Cook for 1 hour.

Hope you like it! :) 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Parenting - Yup, I'm going there...

I always want to be the best at everything.  Call me a perfectionist, unrealistic, goal driven...whatever you call it, that is me.  I think it was instilled in me from my Dad, who does everything to the best of his ability and through that, has taught me to do the same.  I know that most people try to do everything to the best of their ability, but he brings it to another level.  We always joke that I am my "Father's Daughter" in so many ways.  But, when I became a parent, it brought this whole "being the best" to a whole new level.  Now, I needed to be the best not only for myself, but two little lives depended on it.  Talk about pressure!  It is definitely by far, the biggest responsibility ever.  This "being the best" no longer is just meeting certain criteria at work, being a great wife, daughter, sister, friend and human being.  It now meant that two little people are completely dependent on me and it is up to me (and my hubby of course) to mold them into amazing people!

So, of course, when I first became pregnant, I would look things up online, pick people's brains who have been through it, be anxious about certain transitions going smoothly and read about it some more.  You want to know what I have learned?  A lot! So, let's start here...

There are SO many articles you can read that claim that they have the right way for anything and everything which just sets people up for failure.  It may sound great on paper but when you attempt the method and it doesn't work, you end up so quick to say "what did I do wrong?" People ask you questions, and sometimes when you give them an answer, the look on their face shows that they don't approve. The media and people put so much more pressure on mama's than they need!  Here is an early example of my own:

I chose not to breastfeed.  Some people may have just read that statement and cringed, wondered why or didn't give it a thought.  I chose not to breastfeed round 1, because I had complications from my C-section and I decided rather than stress about breast feeding, I wanted to just enjoy and get to know my little man.  Round 2 I chose not to because it worked for my first.  But, why should I have to explain to anyone why I didn't breastfeed?  Why did I feel the need to explain that to anyone who asked? Why do people ask in the first place??  Why do people think it is acceptable to say that my child will not be as healthy or that my bond with him will not be as strong as if I had chosen to breastfeed?  Seriously? As a matter of fact, my children are and have always been healthy and I cannot imagine a bond being any stronger. People should not judge me for NOT breastfeeding just as I should not judge someone FOR breastfeeding.  Different people, different opinions.  No one is right, no one is wrong.  It is what is best for you and your child at the time.  That is just one small example, and I am sure if you are a mother you have MANY more examples to add!

Now, fast forward to the toddler years.  Now that I am in it, where it is more about molding these children and teaching them lessons of the world, I see more and more articles, blogs and pins of all different parenting methods. They are geared more towards the toddler age and older when teaching and discipline becomes part of your daily routine. When these little humans are babies you just need to keep them fed, clean and safe...but as they get older is where the molding begins. There are so many parenting styles...Instictive, Attachment, Authoritative, Permissive and Hellicopter to name a few.  There are those parents that hit and those that don't.  Those that yell and those that don't.  Strict or lenient. Calm or high strung. I could go on and on.  People then try to place themselves into one of these categories and when they fall short in an area, feel guilty or pressure to meet some invisible expectation.  There is already enough pressure, why try to fit into some category?  Yes, it is great to research online and get ideas on how to improve yourself, but it is not great to put extra pressure on yourself to make yourself into someone that you aren't, and then feel guilty when you don't meet that unrealistic expectation.

So, you know what I have decided on? MY way is the right way.  Yup, that's right.  Don't question it and don't follow it...because YOUR way is the right way for YOUR children.  YOU know your child better than anyone writing an article.  YOU know their ins and outs and what makes them tick. It is up to YOU to make the best decisions you can for them and continue doing the best you can!  I do a lot of things right, and continue to work on things daily but I never doubt myself.  I pick the brains of those I trust and that is where I find my guidance because when there is trust, there is no judgment.  I do not look to live up to any one parenting method because there is no one right way.  Each child is different and may respond differently to different methods and only you would know that.  I already know my two children respond differently, so it is up to me (us) to react appropriately to how they learn best.  A blanket parenting style wouldn't work for my family.  But, that doesn't mean it doesn't work for yours.  Like I said, YOUR way is best. 

So, a word of advice to current mama's and mama's to be...listen to yourself and your child.  Do not allow the Internet or people outside of your "circle of trust" to fool you into thinking there is one right way to do things. Use the Internet and those IN your "circle of trust" as a tool to research but don't take it too seriously.  What works for one doesn't work for another.  It doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong, because everyone is different.  Do not let anyone's disapproval misguide you if you have a vision for your child/children/family.  

So, I can say that I AM the best mother...for my children. Parenting is the most difficult yet most rewarding job there is! So to all you mama's...keep up the good work, don't let ANYONE bring you down and listen to your heart! :) 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Beginning of T25!

I just took a little full time working out hiatus for vacation and am back at it as of this past Monday and it feels SO good to have exercise back in my life!  I started T25 and for those who don't know what that workout is, it is a new workout program from Beachbody which is the same company that created Insanity and P90xOne of the main reasons I wanted to do T25 is because all of the workouts are 25 minutes so I can guarantee that I can fit the workout into my day. If there is not enough time in the morning, I can do it during the kid's naptime.  Anyone who has a hard time making time for exercise - this is the workout series for you!  The workouts are high intensity for a full 25 minutes 5 days a week with a lot of variations of moves.  It is actually fun! I love it!  It's easy to commit to 25 minutes per day vs. an hour + to go to the gym or an hour + for some of the insanity videos!  It is also nice knowing exactly how long the workout is for planning purposes!
Are you one of the people that jumped on the January 1, 2014 bandwagon and started back at the gym?  I see lots of posts on Facebook about how busy the gyms are, and I remember from back in the days when I attended a gym, how it would be packed after January 1!  That is one of the reasons I love working out in the comfort of my own home or doing outdoor cardio.  No spending time driving to the gym, looking for available equipment or having to wait if something is being used. For me it is all about convenience since a lot of my time is consumed with other things (aka other little humans). :) 
I didn't want to write about T25 until I was at least a few days in to make sure I liked it, but it has exceeded my expectations!  I encourage anyone who isn't working out right now because it's FREEZING (it does make it hard to get motivated sometimes), or you are in a funk, or you just need motivation, to look into T25 and/or get into a workout routine!  Don't forget, summer is in 6 months!  Don't wait to get fit! :)

~Erin Leigh

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If you are interested T25 you can check it out or order it here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Everything in our Fridge Soup

So my hubby had the day off yesterday and I had chosen to work since I just had a week off and LOTS to catch up on!  Anyways, I got a picture of dinner texted to me at about 4:15. :)  He called it "Everything in our Fridge Soup."  A few ingredients are the same as my first original recipe since that is still what we have in the fridge, but a completely different soup! He used a recipe he found online as a guide but modified it using ingredients we have and substituting a few things. So, here it is!
Everything in our Fridge Soup
3 boneless chicken breasts
2 sweet potatoes, cubed
3 carrots, diced
5 celery stalks, diced
8 cups organic free range chicken stock
(If you use regular chicken stock you may not need to season with salt at the end).
1 medium onion, chopped
1 handful of mini kale
1 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Sautee chopped chicken breast in the 1 tablespoon coconut oil. 
Put into pot and add remaining ingredients (and add whatever else you may have handy).
Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30+ minutes.

It came out great.  I love that he was creative for dinner.  Nothing like coming home to a home cooked meal after working all day!  I really have the best hubby ever.  He works hard, is a great husband and dad, cooks and even cleans! Doesn't get much better :)
Try the recipe. It's delish!
~Erin Leigh
PS.  He also made a pork rub the other day.  I need to get those ingredients and share with you because the pork came out amazing!  That will come soon!

Friday, January 17, 2014

My First Creation

I got creative today during naptime and put together a soup recipe of my own.  I always modify other recipes to make it either healthier or more appealing to my family's taste.  I was slightly hesitant to try my own today but I had two pounds of ground turkey that had to be made and some other miscellaneous items to use up so why not throw it all together into a soup?  I have been wanting a new soup recipe anyways...so...here is my creation! :)

Hearty Turkey Vegetable Soup
2 lbs ground turkey
3 carrots thinly sliced
4 celery stalks chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2 handfuls kale
1 can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
6 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cook ground turkey in pot until fully cooked.
I sprinkled with adobo and garlic powder while it cooked (I always seem to find a way to incorporate the two...this step isn't necessary).
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

SO simple! SO healthy! SO good!  

You could honestly add any other veggies you have.  I had mushrooms I realized after that I wish I added but oh well!  You can eat as is or top with parmesan cheese and a side of fresh bread!  If you do not want to make as much you can just split the recipe in half!  If you try it out let me know!  Hope you like my first original recipe! :)

~Erin Leigh

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Chili

Yesterday before work I was scrambling to figure out what to make for dinner.  Usually on Mondays I try to do a crockpot meal since both my hubby and I are at work all day.  Since I never got around to meal planning this weekend (due to whiny and demanding children who are still punishing for going on vacation without them...which I could go on about but I think I will save that for another day), I had to throw something together using chicken, because it is what I had defrosted.  So, I made a crockpot chicken chili.  It is actually similar to my go-to Santa Fe Chicken recipe but I switched out some ingredients since we have had that recently and it completely changed the flavor.  I mean, you would think changing some ingredients that the flavor would change but for some reason when I saw it all together in the crockpot and put the lid on, I had this feeling it was going to come out the same.  But anyways, even my hubby liked it and confirmed that it does, in fact, taste like a different meal.  It took about 5 minutes to throw together! Perfect for a busy day!  Here it is!

Crockpot Chicken Chili
3 boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
(You can really use whatever beans you like here)
1 can corn, drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Throw (not literally) all ingredients into the crockpot, mix together, cover chicken. Done.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Shred chicken and put back into crockpot and mix together. Serve.

You can serve over rice, with tortilla chips, with cheese or sour cream.  We ate it exactly as it was and it was filling...no additional carbs or sides necessary!

Hope you enjoy! :)

~Erin Leigh

Sunday, January 12, 2014

New Year, New Recipes!

Sooo now that I have been getting back into my healthy groove (trying to), I am looking at new healthy recipes to try.  During the busy holiday season I have been sticking to my already memorized go-to recipes (like paleo beef stew and santa fe chicken).  I want to try a few new things each week and build up my recipe bank! A few on my list are pizza with cauliflower crust, spaghetti squash and I would also like to come up with another good soup concoction. Soup is definitely a winter favorite of mine! But, in the mean time, one of my most recent experiments was chicken and spinach stuffed sweet potatoes (quite frankly, because it was all I had in the house since I hadn't grocery shopped since vacation).  I have never been a huge sweet potato fan until the past two months after I gave up potatoes and rice, which we would usually have one of the two with dinner, but since then, sweet potatoes have grown on me. Also spinach has become part of just about all of my meals...with eggs for breakfast, in my salads for lunch and incorporated into dinners. So, this recipe worked out because I had the ingredients in the house and it turned out great! It's definitely a keeper! :)  (Don't let the lengthy directions scare you away...they are specific but not too time consuming)!

Chicken and Spinach Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
3 sweet potatoes 
3 boneless chicken breasts 
1/4 cup olive oil (next time I am going to try with coconut oil)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
1 tablespoon cilantro 
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder 
2 cups spinach 
Optional: shredded cheese on top 

Preheat oven to 350. 
Wash sweet potatoes, prick with fork all over and bake for 1 hour.

Place chicken in a baking dish, rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Place in oven with potatoes for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool. When cool, chop into small pieces.
Meanwhile, while the potatoes and chicken are cooking, combine olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, oregano, cumin, chili powder and set aside. (It sounds spicy but really isn't).
When sweet potatoes are done, cut in half and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then scoop the insides of the sweet potatoes out leaving a good size layer of sweet potato still on the skin. (I put the insides aside and put some cinnamon on it and gave it to the kids).
Turn oven up to 400. 

Heat skillet on medium heat and wilt spinach, then add in the chopped chicken. Brush the liquid mixture onto the inside of the potatoes and bake for 10 minutes until crisp.  Add the remaining mixture from the small bowl to the chicken and spinach in the skillet and allow 5 minutes to blend together in the skillet. Then remove the skins from the oven, stuff with your chicken spinach combination and bake for another 10 (if you choose to top with cheese you sprinkle cheese at this point before placing in the oven). I opted for the cheese. ;)
There you have it!  A perfectly balanced meal with no side dishes necessary!  I will definitely be making this again!  You could substitute the spinach for broccoli or any other vegetable that you like...maybe even both spinach and broccoli! Mmmm...maybe next time! :)
What are your favorite go-to recipes?  I'm looking for some new ideas!
~Erin Leigh


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back into the Groove

Soooo I will be honest. The last few weeks I have been totally human...eating freely during the holidays, went to Mexico and ate and drank way more calories than necessary and haven't worked out much...But it happens to the best of us!  I have been super disciplined for months and what better time to loosen the reigns a little than during holidays and vacation?! I didn't totally throw in the towel and eat horribly all day every day, but I definitely cheated significantly, and now I am feeling it. I am not saying I am fat and out of shape, but I definitely don't feel great.  It is amazing what how a workout can make you feel so good, and how different you feel when you don't have or make time for it!! So, tomorrow is the first day of a new week, and the last day of vacation so it is the start of getting back into my groove! Thankfully it appears like it will be in the 40s so I am hoping for a run tomorrow and then starting T25 on Monday!  On the nutrition side I am planning to continue to move towards a paleo diet. During this time I still haven't eaten bread, pasta, rice or crackers and still am not eating many processed foods, but I hope to become more strict with paleo and continue to experiment with more paleo recipes!  I have a great recipe I made the other night I will share soon so stay tuned! :) 

~Erin Leigh