Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Easy Turkey Burgers

I won't lie, I am the queen of bargain hunting. Zach, my dear husband, can definitely attest to this. And one area that my bargain hunting goes into overdrive is during meal planning and grocery shopping. I love a good deal, and I love seeing our money be able to stretch while still providing good, nutritious meals for us.

One fantastic recipe that I experimented with and loved that meets the standard of being nutritious and budget saavy are turkey burgers! I have absolutely nothing against beef, and I will admit I love a good hamburger. But sometimes, beef, especially the beef you want to eat (farm raised and extra lean) is pricier. So most of the time, we stick to options like chicken, turkey and fish. At our local Sam's, we can get a great deal on ground turkey, which is where this recipe starts!

Feel free to use this recipe as a base and build on with what you and your family love, and of course experiment with all those yummy toppings, too!

Easy Turkey Burgers

- 1lb ground turkey
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
-2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt

1. Heat a griddle to 350 degrees, or use a heavy bottomed skillet heated over medium high heat
2. Place all ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Mix gently with hands (don't overwork it), make sure everything is incorporated.
4. Form into 4 to 6 patties, depending on your size preference.
5. Flatten out with your hand into a patty shape, place on griddle or skillet.
6. Cook through, about 6 minutes per side, until juices are clear and it is no longer oink in the middle.
7. Place on a toasted whole wheat bun and top with things like sliced tomato, onion, avocado, crispy bacon, etc!
8. Enjoy!

What is your favorite thing to top a burger with? Do you love something on the inside of your burger too? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

French Date Night

"Je t'aime Mon chéri."

Or in other words, I love you my sweetheart, in French. I mean, who hasn't dreamt about a romantic week in Paris, the city of lights? Walking down ancient cobblestone treats, sipping cafe au late, eating warm croissants and tasting French wine? I know we have toyed with the idea of flying to Paris for dinner and some romance! 

While we can't always jump on a plane for a romantic date on the whimsical streets of Paris, I will strongly recommend making your own date in home! 

I am all about themed date nights. I have been known to come up with some really interesting ones. And a French themed date night is one we have done to some extent before, and I plan on doing another in the near future, so I wanted to share my ideas with y'all, too! 

These are a few different French Date Night themed ideas that you can use! 

The French Outdoor Picnic

With spring in the air and weather getting nicer, it is fun to get outside and pretend you're out in France enjoying a spring day. 

Location: At your home on the lawn with a big blanket, or if you have a patio table, do that up! Or you can go to a nearby park, but be careful if you are having wine (most public places you CAN'T drink at all, plus there's the driving bit).

What you need:
- A picnic blanket, or a table done up with a table cloth
- Classic French foods, bread, cheeses, "small bites" sorts of foods (see below for ideas!)
- Your phone or some sort of device to listen to music on
- Maybe even some fresh flowers to decorate with! (Get creative!)
- Picnic supplies (Plates, silverware, cups, etc)

What to eat: French baguettes, grapes, apples, a few cheeses (one of my favorites is brie), honey, salami or other dried meats, a favorite bottle of wine, and chocolate truffles for dessert. Or, if you have a local place around that makes them, have macaroons! 

What to listen to: A French inspired Pandora station (you can do Spotify as well but I have found Pandora to be better for me personally when listening to this sort of mix station)

What to do: Put the music on, get some fresh flowers, do up your picnic blanket or table and enjoy your food and wine while listening to French music! Set it up together, sit, and take your time enjoying the outdoors together while sharing a meal.

Questions to ask: (Here are some fun questions to get the conversation going too!)
-If you could plan the ultimate Paris vacation (cost no limit), what would you do, what would you see, stay, eat, etc?
-If you could learn one other language, what would it be and why?
-If you could travel anywhere in the states for an ultimate vacation, where would it be and why?
-What was the one place you always dreamt about going as a kid? Have you ever been there?
-What would be your goal or dream for a realistic adventure for us in the next year that we could do together?

Cook Your Way Through France

Two of my favorite French inspired cooking movies are Ratatouille and Julie and Julia. Ah, classics! Another GREAT one that we watched not long ago is The Hundred Foot Journey. If you have one of Julia Child's cookbooks (which are FANTASTIC), pick out a recipe or two to make together (and if you don't, Google is great!), shop for the ingredients, cook, enjoy and then watch one of those movies to top off the night! 

Location: Your home and your kitchen! (Except when getting your ingredients)

What you need: 
-A few French recipes from a cookbook or google (Julia Child's cookbooks are wonderful!)
-Your ingredients for your recipes (Go out and shop together!)
-Aprons (if you get messy in the kitchen!)
-Fresh flowers if you so desire to spruce your table up
-A beautiful set table, complete with candlelight! 
-A French inspired movie (our favorites are Julie and Julia, Ratatouille, and The Hundred Foot Journey)
-French music for the background of your dinner

What to do: Grab your aprons and getting to cooking...together! Taste as you go, and enjoy! Grab some wine or make your own lemonade or a favorite beverage while you cook. Talk and enjoy the process. Set the table, do it up big! It's fun to make everything look beautiful for your time together.
Put on a French inspired station on Pandora, and enjoy your romantic meal together! Then, eat dessert while watching your French movie! You could even top the night off with some cafe au lait (coffee with milk)!

Questions to ask: (Again, some more questions you could ask at dinner to get things going!)
-If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
-What was your favorite meal as a child? What is it now?
-If you could have any chef cook you a top of the line, gourmet dinner, who would cook it for you, and what would you have?
-If you could eat your way through any country in the world, which would it be?
-Where is one place that we can explore together in the near future? 

So, our challenge, try your own French themed date night! Or perhaps another international location. A few great places to find French foods are Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and even check your local farmers markets! 

What is your favorite date night theme? 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Funday (3 Tips for a Productive Week)

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week. As is Monday! But both for different reasons. Mondays are the fresh start, the new beginning, the starting line. You have the chance to set the pace and tone for the week on Mondays.

Sundays? That's the cap of the week. The cherry on the sundae, icing on the cake. It's a chance for me to simultaneously look back at the week, see what worked, and what didn't, as well as look ahead and prepare myself for success in the week to come.

It's a day that I love to use to plan and prepare while I relax. It leaves me refreshed and peaceful instead of scrambling on a Monday morning. And I want to share with you some of my top tips on how I use Sundays to plan ahead!

1. I write down 3 things that need to happen each day of the week. I generally break down my big goals into manageable daily goals, and distribute these throughout the week. Things like meal planning, blogging, and business goals make it onto my daily goals. They can be big or small, but keeping it to three helps me accomplish them and stay on track!

2. I schedule out my workouts. Life can vary week to week, and while I love a consistent routine, sometimes that isn't always possible. So I look ahead at what the week holds and make sure that I have planned out when and what workouts I will do for the upcoming week.

3. Meal prep! This is one that really helps out. Whether I can get all of my meals prepped or not, at least knowing what meals we will be having and getting my vegetables prepped helps a ton! If I have a healthy option available to eat on the go, I'm much more likely to choose that than the unhealthy option. Get as much of your vegetables and fresh produce ready as you can! You can even batch cook chicken and ground turkey to use in recipes throughout the week.

While there are a lot more tips that I could give you on how to use your Sunday to your advantage and prep for the week ahead, I will keep it to these top three! Spending even a little bit of time looking ahead at your week, or even the next few days can ease the stress of the upcoming week and help you break bigger tasks into manageable pieces.

How do you use your Sunday? Do you do any preparations of your own on the weekend? I would love to hear what works for you!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Meal Plan For YOU

Meal planning can seem overwhelming and daunting when you start on a journey towards health or if you aren't used to it. So many options, so many opinions, so little time. My biggest piece of advice? Find something that works for you in your life! 

You want to make sure that your meal plan follows these rules:
1. Allows you to get good, dense nutrition into your body. 
2. Do something that you can make a lifestyle! Avoid crash diets like the plauge.
3. Consider your schedule. Allow for something that will give you options while also keeping you healthy. 
4. Evaluate and reevaluate! Try different ways and see if it works for you or not.
5. Save time, money and food by PLANNING! Even if it doesn't go 100% according to plan, creating any type of plan will help you save in these area. 

There are many ways to meal plan! You can plan out all your big meals, snacks, etc. You can write down all your dinner options but leave the day you have them open. You can rotate through a few choices for the whole week. You can have the same lunch or breakfast all week. The options are limitless. And I have tried a fair few different ways to meal plan! I have found that different types of meal plans work better for different seasons.

A season that I'm trying to be more totally focused in nutrition, I will plan out all meals and snacks. Sometimes I make a list of different options to rotate through if we have a busy week! Find what works for you, reevaluate and if its working, keep it. If not, try another approach!

This model is more loose and leaves you room to choose what you want for the specific day, but gives you structure so you save money and stay on track with your health!

-Shakeology (with PB and a serving of fruit)
-Sauteed kale and scrambled eggs
-Egg "muffins"

-Dinner leftovers
-Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with sliced tomato, avocado and mustard with fresh veggies
-Spinach salad with grilled chicken, feta cheese, cranberries, nuts and vinaigrette

-One unplanned or cheat meal (because sometimes you need to work that in!)
-Chicken sausage with sweet peppers and onions over hot brown rice, with steamed broccoli
-Turkey burgers on whole wheat bread with avocado, tomato, and sweet potato fries with steamed broccoli
-Zucchini noodle pasta with ground turkey spaghetti sauce, whole wheat garlic bread
-BBQ chicken stuffed sweet potatoes with spinach salad
-Stuffed bell peppers with veggies, ground turkey, and pepper jack cheese, with hot brown rice
-Leftovers night

-Cheese and apples
-Fresh fruit serving
-Fresh veggies with ricotta cheese
-Greek yogurt with fruit

-DIY Strawberry Ice cream
-Revamped "cookie dough"
-Shakeology chocolate bars

Monday, April 20, 2015

Turkey and Veggie Soup

Summer is quickly approaching and that means soon warmer weather will be the normal. But, as we have experienced this past week in Atlanta, we can still have a few cold days left before the heat fully arrives.

What does that weather mean? One last chance for a hearty soup before the cool soups make their appearance on the dinner table.

This last week I experimented with the ingredients I had around the house to make our hearty turkey and veggie soup. The great thing about this recipe is that it can definitely be made to what YOU have in your kitchen and what YOU like.

But for a base recipe, here is what we used!

1lb ground turkey
2 tsp cooking oil or butter
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 sweet potato, cubed
4 cups raw kale, chopped
1 cup baby carrots
4 cups chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp basil
1 basil leaf
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika

1. In a large heavy bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven) over medium high heat, heat up your cooking oil or butter 
2. Add you chopped onions, sautee until soft and translucent. Add your garlic in and cook for one minute. 
3. Add in the chopped green peppers, and potatoes.
4. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. 
5. Add kale, bay leaf and diced tomatoes and reduce heat to medium low. Let cook for about 10 minutes, covered. 
6. As that cooks, brown your turkey with all of the seasonings mentioned above added in with it.
7. After turkey is browned, add to soup, mix and cover. 
8. Let cook over medium low, stirring occasionally for about 25 minutes. 
9. Garnish with cheese and plain Greek yogurt if desired! 

Enjoy these last few days of warm soup weather before the fall. This is an easy and yummy way to get veggies in! Experiment with what you have and make it fun. 

What's your favorite soup? 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Marriage Tip #17

Really, this should be called life tip #17, because whether you are married, or single, this tip applies to you. To all of us. Myself and Zach included.

It is something that has come up recently when Zach and I talk about how we can love each other better and what we can do for our marriage.

The tip?


I have talked about this topic before, but it really is that important and it also has been in our hearts lately so I wanted to share the tip with you, too!

In our culture, everything is at our fingertips, so it seems. In even writing this blog post from my phone. We have more access to knowledge and information than ever before. We have more "connections" than ever before.

But that advantage so often becomes our disadvantage. And it can be damaging on relationships.

You can see it practically everywhere you go. People "multitasking" while on their phone. Go to a restaurant and count how many times you see people looking at their phones while in conversation with someone else.

And I am just as guilty, mind you! Though because I am aware of it, Zach and I are both very intentional about our time together.

Our tip is to take time to unplug. Put your phone away while on a date. In fact, leave it at home. Remember how we used to get along fine without a phone on us when we went out? It is possible.

This week Zach and I are taking a week off of TV and not watching and shows or movies. Just a personal choice, we never watch it excessively, but we want to be intentional about our time together.

Removing the distraction of technology gives way to more creativity together! Explore and adventure together. Discover new things, find things out the old fashioned way. Communicate face to face, eye to eye, heart to heart.

Take a bath together, read a book, build a fire. Go camp for a night or just set up your tent in the backyard. Have an uninterrupted coffee date. Make dinner together.

Technology is not evil by any means. It is a fantastic tool. But we have to be intentional in our lives and especially in our marriages, and make way for intentional, face to face, uninterrupted time for each other.

Will you unplug?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas

Let's talk about lunch time. That sometimes skipped over meal, or the meal that we forget to pack so we end up  eating a less than nutrious meal and paying extra for it. But it doesn't have to be that way! There are so many great lunch options that you can prepare at home either the night before, or prep them all at the beginning of the week!

This saves you time, money, and helps ensure that you are getting good nutrition for the whole day, which helps you be more productive and healthy.

If you are in a lunch rut, or just need some new ideas for your lunch time to spice things up, here are some fantastic recipes and ideas that I found on Pinterest (one of my favorite resources). Be sure to follow me on Pinterest and save these on your own page as well!

1. Grilled Chicken Veggie Bowls
Grilled chicken and veggie bowls are a fantastic option for a whole week of lunches. It is cheaper and easier to prepare in bulk, and you can vary things just a little so that you don't get bored of your food! Memberships to places like Sam's Club or Costco are great for the food supplies for these and save you money too.

2. Mason Jar Salad
These beautiful salads have been super popular lately, especially in their fun container option using a mason jar. Its hard to prep a salad for lunch sometimes because things get soggy. But this idea actually helps keep everything crisp because of the way the salad. Give these a try to pep up your lunch time salads!

3. Avocado and Turkey Wrap
Or any kind of wrap, really! Wraps are a fun way to pack your lunch and vary things up. You can batch cook your ingredients, and have them ready to go for the week. Wraps offer a lot of variety and personalization options too!
(Image from Pinterest and blog linked on Pinterest)

4. Traveling Lunch Noodles
For an Asian twist on your lunch, try this beefed up noodle lunch option! Turn boring noodles into a fun lunch packed with veggies and other things you love. I also love how they packed these!

5. The classic (or not so classic) healthy lunch sandwich!
Here is an array of healthy sandwich ideas for you to bring to work with you. The sandwhich is such a classic lunch option, bit it can absolutely be jazzed up and kept healthy as well! These are some fantastic recipes to check out and try if you like a good sammy.

There are five great lunch options that you can try for your work week this week. Do your prep work, it will save you time and money! I love to prepare as much for the week as much as possible so that lunch can be a grab and go and stay healthy! 

What is your favorite healthy lunch option? 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Need a Fresh Start?

New Years always starts on such a high note. Everyone and their mother are setting goals and resolutions, bound and determined to actually keep them this year. I know, because I have been there so many times, too. Made resolutions, broken them. Remade resolutions, and had to again, restart them. It can be discouraging and disheartening.

I want you to know though, it's okay to have a fresh start. You are allowed to start over. And you can start over and SUCCEED.

Something great that I have heard and keep in my mind is "if you're tired of starting over, stop quitting." So go ahead, take that leap of faith, start over and commit to sticking with it.

I know that I have had to start over with my fitness in many ways on this journe . Whether intentionally starting a new day over after a rougher day before, or beginning a workout program again, or redoing a program and giving it 110% of my effort, or even starting a new nutrition plan again and eating cleaner.

I have been through it. And more importantly, I know how difficult it can be, especially if you are going in on your own, or no one is keeping you accountable. It can be easy to stop and say "no one will know." But then you're right back where you started.

That is exactly where I was last January before I started focusing for real on my health. Of course I still have had to refocus since starting, but I have not gone back to my old unhealthy habits of not working out and not watching what I eat. Before I started, I was a serial quitter. Doing something for two weeks and hanging up the towel.

A fresh start was exactly what I needed. And what made me stick with it was accountability and motivation. That is why I am so passionate about leading the accountability groups that I do every month. It is my way to pay it forward and help others begin THEIR fresh start and establish healthy habits in their life.

My group this month is putting an extra special focus on just that. Making this our fresh start and establishing those healthy habits in our lives. Another really exciting part of this group is going to be a Biblical perspective on taking care of our bodies and how we can find balance in our lives while moving towards health overall.

If you haven't ever heard about my groups, have no fear! Here is a basic outline of what this group (and most of my groups are like):

-We begin April 20, and go for 30 days
-There are ten spaces available in my group (I like to keep it small to keep it close knit)
-Our group is held via a closed online Facebook group, so you can participate from anywhere in the country
-Daily motivational posts and tips from me, your personal and group coach.
-You check in daily and rate how your workout, nutrition and water intake was to keep you accountable.
-I help you meal plan and get recipe ideas that fit your life
-I help you find the perfect workout program for your fitness level, goals and preferences.
-You commit to working out and eating healthy for 30 days
- You participate in our group and find encouragement and community
-We will also have a few contests and prizes for this group!
-When you finish your workout program and submit your results, you get a free T-shirt (who doesn't like free??)
-Personal access to me and weekly check ins to see how things are going

And that is just the overview! Really this format has been the thing to keep me on track for over a year, which has never happened before ever in my life. Its a big deal to me to be able to find something that works. And maybe an online group isn't your thing, BUT I know what is working for me, and I can't NOT share it and lead others who need accountability just like I did.

So if you are interested at all, please message me, email, comment, however you want to reach out to me, and I can give you more information.

You can also invite yourself and add yourself to my group event on Facebook here .

Are you ready for a fresh start, too? Join us! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Marriage Tip #16

Let's talk about something for a minute here. Now, I realize that this is a very hot button topic. Very taboo, especially in certain circles. It can be awkward to talk about. But these are some of the reasons that I am passionate about it.

Let's talk about sex.

Yikes. Yup, I said SEX.

It's more than a three letter word, it's more than a one night stand, and it is absolutely more than a physical act. And I wish it was talked about more in the right context and in the right light. I wish the truth was shed on it more.

I heard a fantastic quote, I can't remember where or who said it, but it stuck with me, and it is the topic of our marriage tip tonight. The quote is this...

"Satan tries everything to get you to have sex before marriage, and he tries everything to get you to not have sex when you are married."

Y'all. Let's be real. I could write a book about my feelings on what "sex" is in our culture and how it has been hijacked to mean something totally different. Ask people and many will say that sex is just Intercourse. Two people in a physical act. It's really not a big deal, everyone does it.

How has something so beautiful been so marred?

In marriage, sex and INTIMACY have been dumbed down. Sex in marriage has been made to be this boring thing, something that husbands grumble about because their wives are "too tired." Intimacy is overlooked in favor of other distractions. True vulnerability, intimacy and closeness is being lost. And the consequences of that can be huge.

Now we are not going to get into the nitty gritty details here. I believe what happens in the bedroom should stay in the bedroom, because it is a safe place, and that is true for Zach and I's marriage. The bedroom is our place, and our intimacy is sacred and special to us.

But the whole point of this tip is to challenge you to really look at your intimate life with your spouse. Do you find yourself shying away from sex and intimacy? Or do you delight in its joys?

Put a top priority on intimacy with your spouse! This doesn't always mean sex, like I said, intimacy is much more than just the physical aspect of sex, although that is an important key. Intimacy is being open, vulnerable and connected with your spouse, and that can happen through many things, sex included.

When you place a priority on intimacy, that openness creates trust, safety, and connection. Isn't it just the most relieving feeling in the world to be balanced and on the same page with your spouse? That feeling of calm and peace? Intimacy creates that. Intimacy fosters that, grows it, and nurtures that.

Honestly, I really could go on and on on this topic of sex. I could take it a thousand different topical directions. But the bottom line is that sex and intimacy in marriage is absolutely vital. Find a way to make it a priority in your marriage and protect that time. It's not something dirty or to be hidden in the dark, or a chore to be checked off and completed. God created it to be a sacred and special time for a husband and wife to connect and be one. One in body, heart, spirit and life.

Don't wait for a time to present itself. Make time.

How do you protect intimate time with your spouse? Brainstorm some ways you can put boundaries around the time you have together and guard that time jealously!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

3 Tips to Help Get More Focus

Time. Seriously, is there anything in the world that we want more of but use worse than time? I would argue that there are little things. Especially in our culture these days. We talk a big talk, scheduling our calendars until they are overflowing, always stating that things are "busy and good" when people ask us how we are (I am guilty of this too, by the way!).

In a culture that is captured by screens and constantly on the go and getting things done, it's time to get something new. FOCUS. Distraction free, real, genuine, productive FOCUS.

Let me tell you, it can be hard to come by. Like I said, our schedules are full. Add in five thousand notifications of every one of our phone apps dinging constantly, text messages and emails being received, a running grocery list bouncing through our head, an alarm clock blaring for some reason, the TV mumbling in the background, music playing from our computer.....stressed out yet?

I mean, really narrow in your mind what it feels like to have all of these going on in your life all at once. I know for me, it's stressful. I like moments of peace and quiet, I like my inbox to be sorted and replied to, and I like some organization and clarity.

But a lot of times, my life feels like the other paragraph, garbled, over saturated with notifications and noises and distractions. So lately, something that I have been trying to do is get more focus in my life. Real focus, like no distractions, no dinging, no notifications, no multi tasking, no noise, just concentrated focus.

While it takes effort, the times that I have gotten it right, it is so helpful, and definitely has increased my peace and productivity. I want to share the three top tips that I have from that with you to encourage you and challenge you to maybe try some of these on your own!

1. Work in 45 minute spurts without distraction, and then take a 15 minute break. Studies are showing now that people who work with this sort of schedule, and have focused work with no distractions and then take a 15 minute break are more productive. I have been trying this method and it helps keep me from mentally burning out or sidetracking and losing time. When you enter into this 45 minute/15 minute model, get yourself away from distractions. No scrolling, no multi tasking, just focus in and get it done. Then take an active 15 minute break. Walk around, start at nature, doodle, get away from screens and take a break.

2. Turn your phone on silent, put it in another room, or even put it on airplane mode! It may seem unnatural at first, and you might try to check your phone for notifications, but DON'T. While you are on your 45 minutes of working, make sure that your phone is on silent. So many times it can just be habit to pick up our phones and check, but then get sucked into scrolling and responding and getting distracted.

3. Don't look at your phone after the first hour you are awake, or the last hour before you go to bed. This one has been a challenge, but also very rewarding for me. It used to be that after I woke up, I would scroll through my newsfeed for a little bit and then get to work or do my quiet time. But, time can sometimes slip by way too fast doing this. We get caught up. Same goes for at night! Even more importantly at night, taking time away from screens for the last hour that you are awake will help your body prepare for rest better, thus allowing you to sleep better!

Do you do any of these tips already? Which ones help you focus in the best?