Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

I just had my first major accident with Charlie where we had to rush to the ER and stitches were needed. I don't know if I can explain the sheer panic you feel seeing your child in pain and bleeding more than just a scrape. We had a great day celebrating Homecoming at MSU with family and friends and I was just getting her dinner ready. Literally putting her plate on her high chair tray and I heard a thud followed immediately by screaming, choking and vomit. Charlie had been sitting in her high chair waiting for dinner like she has done over a hundred times and my only guess is she leaned forward too far because the high chair literally flipped over (forward) and she hit her head on the table causing a cut right next to her eye and a bruised nose. I grabbed her and a wash cloth and carried her to the sink so she wouldn't keep throwing up all over herself. Blood was trickling down her face and she was dry heaving... one of the most horrible moments of my life to see my child like that. I called my mom as I was trying to change my puke-covered pants, freaking out, telling her to meet me at the hospital. I live only a few minutes away, but they are about a half hour. I sped the whole way, ran through a couple "yellow" lights (yes, I was panicking and she was crying and I can't handle that)...we valeted the car and were whisked to the pediatric ER because she could have hurt her head, back or neck in the fall. After the Dr. ruled out more serious damage they cleaned up her cut, again horrible, because she was just crying and saying, "momma" over and over. She needed stitches and I decided it was ok to give her a nasal sedative to make her relax and not remember the process because it was so close to her eye I didn't want her to move or it to not be done perfectly. After the numbing gel and that she was the funniest thing I had ever seen. She was showing the Dr.'s and nurses her muscles and giggling to herself.

My dad held her hands while they did the stitches because I couldn't watch and she was hiccuping and laughing the whole time. When we got home she was just out of sorts, still loopy, tired, hungry... what an ordeal. I laid on her floor until she fell asleep. I know far worse things have happened, but it doesn't make it any easier when it is the first thing like this that happens to your own child.

This was another favorite with Charlie girl. The slow cooked is seriously my go-to right now. It is making my life so much easier. For this dish, I added some fresh pineapple at the end because cooked and fresh have a different texture and flavor and I really think it make the dish that much better. We ate our with rice because she eats anything with rice.

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

- 2-3 Chicken Breasts, 1-1.5 in cubes (about 4 breasts)
- 3/4 Cup Pineapple Juice (no sugar added or fresh)
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
- 1/3 Cup Coconut Aminos (or gluten free Soy Sauce)
- 1 Pineapple, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes (divided)
- 1/2 Sweet Onion, chopped
- 1 Bell Pepper (any color)
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice, about 1/2 a lemon

1. Add half the pineapple and everything else except the arrowroot powder and water to the crockpot and mix well. Cook on low 2-3 hours.
2. When it is done, remove the chicken and pour the sauce into a sauce pan over high heat. Whisk the arrowroot and water together and stir into the sauce. Whisk while bring the sauce to a boil. It should thicken in minutes. Add the chicken back, the rest of the pineapple and stir.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

The past two weeks I have run out of my prepped food by Thursday, leaving me hunting around the house and possibly making bad decisions by Friday. That combined with being ultra-tired last week made me extremely emotional and just not myself. After being on top of my game at work all day, trying to push it at the gym, I was spent when I got home to do my most important job of all... being a mommy. This week I am trying to make sure evenings go smoother and spent more time prepping food. This is what my table looked like when I was about half way done:

And this is what the dishes looked like in my kitchen at that point. I don't have a dishwasher and was cleaning mid-prep because I had run out of pans/bowls.

Last night it paid off and I had one of my twice-baked sweet potatoes with some grilled chicken I had also made. The chicken was basted in my homemade "bbq" sauce: equal amounts of tomato paste (no sugar added) and balsamic vinegar with a splash of fish sauce. Although these are more work than the average baked potato they add variety to my side dishes. 

Twice- Baked Sweet Potatoes

(makes 6 Halves)

- 4 Sweet Potatoes
- 6 Pieces of Bacon
- 2 Green onions, chopped
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- Coconut Milk (optional)

1. Prick the potatoes with a knife and bake them 50 min- 1 hr at 400 degrees. 
2. While the potatoes are baking, cook the bacon in a skillet until very crispy. Reserve the grease.
3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the insides leaving about a 1/2 inch boarder in the potato. 
4. Add the bacon grease (and milk) and pepper. With a potato masher, or hand-blender for more fluffy potatoes, mash (blend) the potatoes until the consistency is what you like. Stir in the bacon and onion reserving a few tablespoons.

5. Stuff the potatoes with the filling, sprinkle with leftover bacon and bake an addition 10-15 minutes until they are crispy on top. When filling the potatoes you will only use 3 of the 4. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Crockpot Sticky Chicken

I saw a post on my friend's facebook that I found interesting. It was a quote from author Laura Vanderkam, "Instead of saying, “I don’t have time,” try saying, “It’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently." 

I have chosen to make my family, fitness, and eating healthy my priorities. When I feel like one of them is not going well, I feel guilty. This week I made the effort to get out of my house and walk the 30 feet to my garage to lift, even on days I had already been to the box. Squatting (well strength in general), is a big weakness of mine and instead of avoiding it, I am choosing to work on it. The hardest steps are often the ones out the door... once you're out there just focus and get to it. It took me 30 min to warm-up, squat, strict press and do pull-ups. That's it: 30 minutes. You might be thinking, "there are a lot of other things I could do in 30 minutues" because that's not you're thing, and that's my point: if it were a priority you would do it, if it's not that's fine, but just say it, anything else is just an excuse that's disguised to make you feel better. We all have different commitments, obligations, etc. just make sure your priorities are what you want them to be.

I am still on the crockpot trend this week. It's just too darn easy and Charlie can help me throw stuff in it and push the button to turn it on. I know that chicken breasts are usually way too dry in the crockpot but these are not cooked for very long so I haven't found that to be an issue with this particular recipe. It also means you can make it after work if you get home as early as I do some days. I added a lot more pepper flakes when it was in my bowl, but the recipe, as is, was a good heat level for my peanut. She loves anything with rice right now so this was totally her thing. I know there is a lot of honey in it, but it's also a lot of chicken. Steamed broccoli and brown rice on the side made this a perfect meal for us. 

Crockpot Sticky Chicken

- 2-3 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (about 4), cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3/4 Cup Raw Honey
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Sweet Onion, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/4 Cup Water
- 3 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder
- 2 Green Onions, white and green parts, chopped

1. Place the chicken in a slow cooker. Pour the ingredients through the red pepper flakes on top and toss to coat. Cook on low 2.5-3 hours... I haven't tested it on high but I assume 1-1.5 hours.

2. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and pour the sauce into a medium sauce pan over high heat. Whisk the arrow root and water together and stir in while whisking. The sauce should thicken within minutes. 
3. Remove from heat and add the chicken back in. Sprinkle with green onions and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 581
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10 g15 %
Saturated Fat 2 g9 %
Monounsaturated Fat 4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 150 mg50 %
Sodium 1525 mg64 %
Potassium 230 mg7 %
Total Carbohydrate 71 g24 %
Dietary Fiber 1 g3 %
Sugars 64 g
Protein 53 g107 %
Vitamin A7 %
Vitamin C8 %
Calcium2 %
Iron16 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Crockpot Butternut Squash and Beef Stew with Cauliflower Mash

Some of the leaves are already changing around my house and the weather has taken a turn from 90 degrees last week to 60s this week. Although I am sad to see summer go I really do love the changing of the seasons. It is even starting to smell like Fall. Those who have not lived in a climate with seasonal changes like Michigan might think I'm weird, but honestly there's a smell.

Work is starting to take its toll on me, on top of being sick, so I am putting my crock pot to good use this week. Butternut squash is a fall/winter vegetable here (actually it's technically a fruit)- sometimes it is called a butternut pumpkin. They can be really hard to cut so my mom suggested using a pumpkin carving knife... what do you know?! It works! I used a serrated knife that also worked on getting through that hard-to-cut flesh and that also worked better than a chef's knife. I choose butternut squash over sweet potatoes in this recipe because they hold up better in the cooking process without turning to mush and they remind me of pumpkins and the season.

The mash is something my sister introduced me too. It literally tastes like mashed potatoes. So good that I suggest doubling the recipe because the stew makes a lot. I would have doubled it but my food processor is crap and I was sick of dealing with it. But I packed it and my stew for lunch all week and it was better the next day.

Crockpot Butternut Squash and Beef Stew with Cauliflower Mash


- 1.5-2 lbs Stew Beef, 1 inch cubes
- 1/3 Cup Arrowroot Powder
- 1/2 Butternut Squash, peeled, seeded, diced into 1 inch pieces
- 2 Carrots, peeled, diced
- 1/2 Sweet Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 3/4 Cup Beef Broth
- 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1. Place the beef in a crock pot and toss to coat with the arrowroot powder.
2. Chop and drop all the vegetables and the rest of the ingredients on top. No need to stir.

3. Cook and cover on high 4-6 hours or on low 10-12 hours.

Cauliflower Mash

- 1 head of Cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 Cup Chicken Stock 
- 2 Garlic Cloves, mashed 
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper

1. Place all of the ingredients in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and cover 15-20 minutes until cauliflower is tender.

2. Pour everything into a food processor and blend into the mixture is as smooth as you want it, scraping down the sides occasionally. If you want it thicker, reserve some of the broth from the pot and add more as needed. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Brussel Sprouts and Chicken Sausage

On Friday, Charlie and I stopped at the grocery store on our way home from work/daycare. It had been a long week with curriculum night, staff meeting, and a protest outside the school. Charlie was tired, I was sick and tired, and she decided to act her age- didn't want to sit in the cart, pulling things off shelves, yelling, etc. Anyone who has kids has been there. I was walking down the aisle and a lady about 55ish made eye contact with me- I honestly thought she was going to say something like, "we've all been there." But no. She looked right at me and said, "You shouldn't take your kid shopping alone if you can't handle it." I literally lost it- voice raised, curse words flying, I told her what I thought about that comment and then some. When I got to my car I cried and called my mom, feelings honestly hurt. I try really hard to be a good mom, work really hard and some days exhaustion gets the best of you and a stranger can get to you more than they should. I posted something online about it just to vent and I was overwhelmed with the nice, angry, supportive, and reassuring comments I got. I am so grateful to have such great people in my life that bring me back up when I am feeling down. That lady is also lucky she didn't say that to one of my friends, because apparently their reaction would have been worse than mine. :)

Could someone also please tell my little girl to stop growing? Thanks.

This is a quick and easy dinner, although not the prettiest dish. Protein and a vegetable with few ingredients. One night I added baby spinach to the pan at the end. It's simple but sometimes simple is best.

Brussel Sprouts and Chicken Sausage

- 1 lb Brussel Sprouts, halved, stem part removed
- 1/4 cup Water
- 4 Chicken Sausage Links, halved and sliced (any flavor)
- 1/2 Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, minced
- 3 Tbsp Coconut Aminos (or gluten free soy sauce)
- 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice (about 1/2 lemon)
- 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

1. Over medium-high heat, add the water, onion, garlic and brussel sprouts to a skillet. Cover and steam for about 5 minutes--- the time it takes to cut sausage and get out the other ingredients, maybe clean up a little.
2. Remove the lid and add the sausage, red pepper flakes, coconut aminos, and lemon juice. Saute until the brussel sprouts are bright green and fork tender and the sauce has reduced to almost nothing. Taste for seasoning- enjoy!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thai-Inspired Grilled Chicken Salad

You know what makes your week more interesting? Your place of work making national news. (Sigh) It's not easy to teach with that going on!

Workout wise, every time I am outside or go into my garage I want to squat or dip or press or something... it seems a shame to pass by weights and not pick them up. Ahhhh this will be a problem. Rudy was over the other day to do a workout at the now named, "CrossFit Clawson" and Charlie made sure he was hydrated- she is really supportive to everyone who comes over to workout and demands they go faster- it's too cute and how do you not when she is cheering for you?!

Anyway! I made this a few weeks ago and made it again this week because the chicken is fantastic on it's own.

Thai-Inspired Grilled Chicken Salad

- 2-3lbs  Chicken (3-4 breasts)
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 3 Tbsp Honey (optional)
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 Lime, zested, juiced
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Pepper

Salad- I am not doing serving sized because it seems personal how much salad you want on what day... maybe you just want chicken and one leaf and call it a salad and that's ok.
- Red Peppers, in thin strips
- Cabbage (I used Savoy)
- Cucumber, chopped
 - Carrots, chopped
- Green Onion, 2-3 stems, finely chopped
- Avocado, eat it all

Dressing- test for seasoning at the end. I sometimes add a touch of water or vinegar depending on how juicy the lime is.
- 1 Lime Juiced
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 1/4 Red Pepper Flakes
-  1/4 Seed/Nut Butter
- 2-3 Tbsp Water

1. Whisk the marinade and refridigeate with the chicken at least 5 hours or overnight. Grill or bake in a 400 degree oven 30-35 minutes.
2. Combine the salad ingredients and whisk the dressing (I shake it in a jelly jar so it can be stored if you aren't eating at once)
Pour over top immediately then consume.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Paleo "Peanut Butter" Chocolate Pudding

I was at the grocery store the other day, after a workout (therefore in my tank and shorts, covered in chalk, filthy, sweaty looking) and someone in line behind me said, "You must workout, I do too, so how do I look like you?" I responded that diet probably has a lot to do with it, but everyone is built differently. I took a picture of my cart that day, it was a mid-week shopping trip so just stocking up on a few things... just looking at the top rack of my cart I had fruit, vegetables, and meat. Nothing processed, no refined sugars or carbs. I could not sneakily take a picture of their cart but I am guessing the answer to their question is in it. 
Although the person in the grocery store I took as a compliment there's the other side. I have friends who have been asked if they are on steroids, and I don't know how many times I have been told not to get "too big" but can we seriously knock it off? I know crazy strong girls that don't have the tone of some other girls that "look strong." Maybe I want to be "too big"... maybe my friend just lifts heavy weights even if (heaven forbid) she is a girl... my point is it isn't anyone else's business. We don't tell the obese person in McDonalds to put down the fries so don't tell the strong girl to put down the weights. Strong, healthy, whatever, looks different on everyone.

Dessert Time!!! Num num num.
Chocolate pudding :) Adding the instant coffee just enhances the chocolate flavor, but if you don't have any or don't like than just omit it. If you don't have coconut milk you could try almond... I haven't tried it since I cook nut-free usually, but you might just need to add another tablespoon of arrowroot powder.

 One day I ate mine with shredded coconut on top, the next I had it with some sliced bananas and then portioned it into jelly jars for a work snack.

Paleo "Peanut Butter" Chocolate Pudding

- 1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk (14 oz)
- 1 Can Light Coconut Milk (14 oz)
- 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- 1/3 Cup Coconut Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder
- 1 Tbsp (heaping) Instant Coffee Granules
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/3 Cup Seed or Nut Butter
- 1/4 Cup Enjoy Life Mega Chunks (non dairy chocolate)

1. Over medium-high heat, whisk all but the last two ingredients in a sauce pan. Whisk occasionally while the mixture comes to a boil. Once boiling, keep a constant whisk until it has thickened, not to the point of "pudding texture" yet... this process is about 10 minutes total. 

2. Off the heat, add the seed/nut butter and chocolate chips. Whisk until smooth. Pour into air tight containers and let cool (uncovered.) Once cooled, put them into the fridge to thicken... top with your favorite toppings and enjoy. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Balsamic Marinated Steak

Today was the first day of school for a lot of public school kids across the country. All the first day of school pictures are so cute. Education is definitely changing and there are so many options for parents and kids: private, home-schooling, virtual, hybrid, traditional... wow! Not many other countries have such options and a lot of the options are free. Whatever school-choice people make I would just like to say welcome back... and have a great year to my fellow teachers! Charlie and I spent our last day together before I headed back to work at the dairy farm. 

I am getting my grilling in before the weather decides it is done cooperating in Michigan. I am not one of those people who is going to be standing in the snow grilling, but if you are I commend you. I used skirt steak in this recipe because I couldn't find flank steak on the day I went to the store but either would work great. I ate mine with roasted broccoli I made the same time I was roasting broccoli for the wild rice and broccoli recipe. 

 Balsamic Marinated Steak
- 1.5-2 lbs Flank/Skirt Steak
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/4 Cup Coconut Aminos or Gluten Free Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Mustard (I used dijon)
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Honey (optional)

1. Whisk the ingredients, aside from the steak, together. 
2. Add the steak to the marinade and flip it a few times so it is covered. Store in the fridge, covered, for at least 8 hours or overnight. 
3. Over medium-high heat, grill the steak to your temperature preference, flipping once. Let the steak rest before cutting. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Broccoli, Chicken and Wild Rice

I know that date-wise summer isn't over, but with the trees already changing and school starting tomorrow I feel like mine is. I finished up my final competition of the summer last weekend and I really learned a lot competing as an underdog. I entered the Pure Michigan Invitation as a Wild Card which meant I didn't fall in the top 60 in the state. Since I was decently close to the top 60 I thought it would be a good to have a training goal and signed up. Things I learned: strength is by far my biggest weakness. In all of the WODs requiring a 1 rep max I was in last place. Secondly, don't take Benadryl the night before a compeition. I was groggy all day and literally felt ill. It is odd I even thought this was a good idea considering I hardly ever take medicine- idiot Ashley. Third, the people involved in CrossFit are amazing. Even though I struggled a lot of the day there was always someone around me to tell me what I needed to hear or remind me that I was doing was supposed to be fun. My guy, Rudy, was there supporting me, my friends (Kelly, Mara, Amber, Michelle, etc.) were there, my mom and dad both came- so no matter how the day panned out I appreciated the love. 

I am usually mentally tough, but when nothing seems to be going like you thought it would it's nice to hear. Positives of the day include not finishing last and being the only wild card, and looking back at how far I have come. Six months ago I couldn't lift the weights I did or do a muscle up- always good to acknowledge how far you have come as you are preparing to move forward... new goals are posted on my board in my kitchen to look at every morning.

Maven girls doing muscle ups:

Kettle Bell Snatches... 90 of them at 35#

Henry Cavill (aka Man of Steel) was there: 

I have added rice back into my diet for a few reasons. One, I need my meat to last longer. Meat and veggies are so expensive and I can eat 1lb of flank steak in two days even with vegetables. Two, I am losing weight and that's not what I need to be doing. Paleo is great, but I am obviously burning more than I am consuming, or not eating enough. Rice is gluten free so I am still sticking to that and I don't eat it every day but I know I need to change something. This dish could easily be made without the rice but the amount of chicken and broccoli to rice ratio is skewed towards the chicken/broccoli anyway.

I used the rice in a pouch that takes 90 seconds to cook because time is limited in my life. I bought mine at Costco- it is Seeds of Change Brand. I also used a rotisserie chicken because they are my new favorite thing. Meat is cooked, delicious, and you get a lot for the $5 the chicken costs.

Sorry for the lack of a creative name

Broccoli, Chicken and Wild Rice

- 1 Pouch of Wild Rice (8.5 oz) or two cups cooked rice
- 1 Rotisserie Chicken, shredded
- 2 Heads of Broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 tsp Fish Sauce (or more Coconut Aminos if you don't have this)
- 2 tsp Coconut Aminos (or gluten-free soy)
- 2 tsp Sesame Oil
- 3 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

1. Cook the broccoli. I roasted mine: Preheat the oven- while it is doing this cut the broccoli (I throw it in when I am done cutting regardless of the oven temp at the time...hehehee.) On a sheet tray spread the broccoli in an even layer and drizzle with olive oil. salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.
2. While the broccoli is cooking shred the chicken and microwave or cook the rice.
3. Toss everything together and enjoy. :)