Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wellness: Self Love

Self love takes hard work.Lately I have been feeling a little off balance and wanted to share my realizations with you about how to find yourself, feel more authentic and come back to reality.


"If you can take care of yourself, you can give more to everything else."- Miranda Kerr
Your body and mind need to be taken care of properly otherwise they won't give you the experience that you need in this life. I realized this when I found myself engulfed in what the media and other people were doing, saying and wearing and forgot to slow down and listen to the most important person, myself. I let my feelings of being stuck, unsuccessful, and self-doubt become an excuse to lose motivation for tasks that make me feel good such as working out, eating clean, and positive thoughts. In yoga there is a theory that there are two fighting factors in your head. One is your intuition. The other is your ego. Your ego is that voice in your head that says negative and self doubtful comments to you about your body, life, dreams.. you name it, it will fight against it. Your intuition is that feeling you get when you feel happy, confident, energetic and positive. Meditation, eating clean, and exercise are things that bring us back to our intuition. It is a daily struggle to do the things that help your body because the ego promotes laziness, fear, and self doubt which makes us fail to promote the positive things in life. From this quote I remember the lesson that you need to fight against the ego  to take care of yourself in order to help your body and intuition shine.   


"There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful than a women being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me that is the true essence of beauty." -Steve Maraboli
When I was feeling down about my self worth it caused me to to stop taking care of myself and start admiring others such as celebrities and successful friends. I viewed them as having better qualities, looks and lives than I did. I found myself stressed when I thought about my daily tasks almost as if to think that some people do not have to deal with the same daily stress and self esteem issues. I clearly needed to WAKE UP!  Every person has the same insecurities and daily stress that they encounter every day. The secret to being accepting of your life and achievements is to realize that you can only look within for happiness and that every human is equally as important. You need to fight against those negative feelings. Individuals that you admire have worked hard  to obtain their achievements and with those achievements comes twice as much stress and insecurities to overcome. I have found that when I get stressed because of the fear of failure or overwhelmed with tasks I just sit still, breath, and repeat the idea that absolutely no one is perfect. All you can do in situations where you feel less than perfect is relax, realize your mistakes and decide on actions to take to make the situation better. 


"Non-violence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him." _Martin Luther King, Jr.
Hate is such a strong feeling. Accepting to feel that way is the easy route. I have learned, when I was engulfed in jealousy,  hate and negativity, that holding those feelings against someone only weighs you down. When I am extremely angry or stressed at someone I try to stop, recollect, breath and view their side. I do not judge if it is "right" or "wrong", I only try and understand. The ego tries to make us feel these hateful feelings so that we are disconnected from other people who , potentially, will help us learn a lesson. By accepting the challenge of understanding the other person you may start to see that they are harboring insecurities and stress. Their insecurities and stress actually has nothing to do with you as a person. For example when I started my new job I was hired on with no prior experience. I would become stressed when I was given a bad review and given constructive criticism on how to change. I started to build up resentment against my boss and self hatred to myself. When I took a step back and cleared my head I realized that my boss was only trying to help me complete the work that I needed to get done in order to succeed. I realized that, with no experience, I was doing a great job and working hard. I now take my job step by step and am not afraid to ask questions. Ever since I confronted my fears and stress I have been excelling in my new position. Life is a never-ending learning experience. Apart of learning involves making mistakes and to be accepting of that fact.

















Monday, January 27, 2014

Recipe: Quick 'N' Easy Bacon Green Beans

Need a quick 'n' easy side dish to go with your protein?

Here is my all time favorite "go-to" side dish recipe!





What is great about this recipe is that you can customize it to feed 
your family or a crowd. 

I promise there is no real science to it...

but for those who need measurements (i usually eye-ball it)
here some basic ones....

What you need:
1 lb fresh green beans (trimmed)
1/2 Tbs minced garic
3-4 strips of bacon, sliced
3 Tbs Grapeseed oil or a clean oil of choice 



Step 1: Rinse and trim your green beans

Step 2: Slice bacon into little chunks, add to a medium sized skillet pan. Heat on medium heat for 1 minute.

Step 3: Add beans and garlic to the skillet with  bacon.

Step 4: Drizzle the grapeseed oil over beans, just enough to lightly coat when mixed. 
( I love grapeseed oil because its cholesterol free and one of the cleanest oils. Plus it has a higher burn temp, so it doesn't smoke in your eyes like olive oil)



Step 5: Saute on medium heat roughly 5 minutes or until bacon is cooked and you achieve desired tenderness (I like mine with a little sauteed color to them..yum!)


Serve with your favorite protein!

Enjoy!!






Wanna try a little twist?

Variation: Sub out the green beans for some fresh sliced Brussels spouts!




Happy Cooking!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Recipe: Whole Wheat Penne with Mushrooms and Artichokes

So recently I have been on a hunt for new recipes
to switch up our "normal" rotation of meals. 
Winter can be so gloomy, so what better than a nice pesto pasta.

Usually in the summer I make homemade pesto,
since we have an abundance of fresh basil on hand.
But since its winter,
and I failed to grow basil inside this year,
store bought pesto had to do.


I found this recipe from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.
(I admit, I changed a few things slightly. I can't seem to just leave a recipe alone!)

I really liked this recipe,
because most of the ingredients I usually have on hand
or are easily accessible in our local grocery store.
As a mother of two small children,
quick and easy is a MUST.

What you need:
6 oz whole wheat penne pasta
3 Tbs evoo  or grapeseed oil
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 small sweet or red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and slightly chopped
1/4 c. pesto
5 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: In a large pot, bring water to boil. Add penne and cook according to package directions.
Drain and toss with 2 tbs evoo.
Step 2: Heat 1 tbs evoo in large nonstick pan on med-high heat. Saute mushrooms and onion for about 6 minutes until juices start to caramelize.
Step 3: Add garlic and artichokes, saute 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook until softened.
Step 4: Add pasta and pesto. Toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5: sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4

Happy Cooking!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Wellness: Follow Your Fears

This past weekend I auditioned for the television show The Voice. I drove 7 hours and woke up at 5 am day of the audition. Then I waited in line for hours all for the chance to sing for 45 seconds to a group of 11 people. I did not receive the beloved "golden ticket" but it was far from a waste of time.This experience opened my eyes to just how important fearful experiences are. Experiences that frighten you,that cause you anxiety, that you need to work towards, that scare you until your pale in the face, that make you second guess yourself...

I am proud of myself because I gave it my all and failed. I am proud of myself for practicing every night for months forcing myself to use self discipline . I am proud of myself for putting myself in a vulnerable state. I am proud of myself for looking at my biggest fear and forcing myself to face it. 

"expose yourself to your deepest fear. After that...you are free."- Jim Morrison

I am sharing this journey to you because having fear shows us the things we must overcome. The only way to grow is to confront your fears otherwise you will live a life of excuses. I hear way to many loved ones saying " I am not the type of person to do that.."or " I am not good enough to do that.." before they even attempt to try.

This experience was overwhelming because I learned to control my inner ego. Your ego is that voice in your head that tries to steer you away from positive feelings and life choices. I could have chose to have listened to my inner ego that was saying
 " Are you listening to that girl? or that guy? He is so much better than you!"
 or
" You cant do this.. your going to make a fool of yourself".
These thoughts are only the beginning of the ridiculous ideas of self doubt that accumulate when you try to make steps towards a positive decision. This experience has fueled me to test myself and helped me gain skills I never would have gained if I would have let this opportunity pass due to fear.  I feel lighter and more empowered. I stopped and looked around at the mass crowd that was around me. In that moment i realized the beauty in the fact that we were all there for a common passion and all the heartfelt messages of support I received from close family members and friends.. When I slowed down my mind and stopped worrying about myself and my petty insecurities, I met interesting people who only wanted to encourage the people around them.

I urge everyone to do something that makes them want to run the opposite way. I guarantee it will be terrifying but if you start making excuses instead of working to test yourself you will never achieve the growth that you are born to achieve.


Me in the first of 4 lines
Only one of the lines.
















Wednesday, January 22, 2014

DIY: Lacey Book Page Glass Candle Holder

Well I couldn't come up with a great name for this project so I gave it a long one! Here is a great simple little project that takes about 10 minutes and has awesome results!
 


What you will need:
-A sponge, or sponge brush, or even a paint brush would work
-Mod Podge, I used a Matte finish
-A few pages from a book, cream pages work best
-A glass candle holder (mine was $1.00 from Michaels)
-A flower punch ($3.00 from Michaels)
 
(Don't mind my couch, it's my favorite crafting location!)
 
 
Step 1:
Use your flower puncher to punch out a bunch of little flowers from the book pages.
 
Step 2:
Start by placing a dab of the Mod Podge on the glass candle holder, then spread it out using your sponge brush (I used a dabbing motion) you will be working in small sections at a time.
 
 

 
Step 3:
Begin placing your flower punches randomly onto the gluey surface. Once you have them on use your sponge brush to dab over the top of them so that they are all coated in the Mod Podge.
 
Step 4:
Continue this until the entire surface of the candle holder is covered (I did not do the bottom, but you could if you want to!)
 

 
Step 5:
Let it dry, once it is completely dry, place a tea light candle inside and enjoy!
 


 
 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Recipe: Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I am obsessed with cauliflower...I am. I'll admit it.
Its so easy and delicious!

Cauliflower is an easy veggie to incorporate into any meal. Its high in vitamins and important nutrients.
It cooks fast so its great for roasting or steaming. Avoid boiling because it will lose a portion of its nutrients...boo for lost nutrients.
My favorite is to toss it in grapeseed oil and roast it with some garlic.
If you have not tried it roasted, please do. Amazing!

So when I heard about cauliflower pizza crust,
I knew I had to try it. 

Plus, what a great way to sneak in some veggies and its gluten free!




Makes 2 personal sized pizzas

What you need:
1 medium sized cauliflower head
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese 
1/3 c Mozzarella cheese 
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 egg


Step 1: Cut up the cauliflower head into smaller chunks. Discard the green stem. 
Preheat over to 420 degree F.

Step 2: Place cauliflower chunks into food processor and mince for about 30 seconds until get you a fully texture.

Looks light and fluffy like this!
Step 3: Place your fluffy mixture into a microwave safe bowl. Cover (I used a small plate) and microwave for about 5 minutes. This will steam it.

Step 4: Once done steaming, let it cool. Trust me..its hot! Then place your fluff into a clean tea towel or paper towel. You want to try pat out as much moisture as possible. Otherwise you'll end up with soft crust and no one wants that.

Step 5: Place cauliflower back into the bowl and add the cheese, seasonings and egg. Mix well. 

Step 6: Line your baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly grease with oil. Place your mixture into 2 piles on your pan. Pat down mixture and form a crust circle shape. 
Make sure to not have it too thick. 




 Step 7: Bake at 420 degrees (temp for parchment paper) for roughly 15-20 minutes. This time will all depend on your oven and thickness of crust. So watch until its forms a golden color. 

Step 8: Take out and add your favorite pizza sauce and toppings.


Step 9: Bake for 10 more minutes until your cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.

Step 10: Take out of oven and enjoy!!


MMmmm... Yummy!




Happy Cooking!









Friday, January 17, 2014

Wellness: New Years Goals and Resolutions

Once the holidays are over a sense of renewal and lightness hits me. This time of year is dedicated to focusing on what your goals are for the coming year! Sound overwhelming? Don't know where to begin? Below I have listed some goals to consider.

1. Meditate More:
If your like most women meditating seems like almost a waste of time and  possibly somewhat silly. Listening to our bodies and tapping into our feelings is something that society has taught us is somewhat unimportant. 
I have tried it and love how much more in tune I am with my feelings. Its a slow process but extremely worth it. Below are books and video logs to get you started:
2.Monthly Goals:
Making a huge monthly goal is overwhelming and 9/10 you won't stick to it because your goals will change throughout the year. I set one goal for the month and focus on sticking to it. If you can learn to stick to that goal for the whole month than you are more likely to continue it as a habit.

3.Listening and Speaking Ratio:
Make a goal to try to become a better listener. It can be hard to slow down and think about your thoughts and what people are saying before loudly expressing yourself. Take this year to revisit your communication skills. What could you learn by listening to others before you speak a well meditated thought? You will gain more credibility and find yourself feeling more established.

4.Learn to Go with the Flow:
I often find myself looking at my very detailed and scheduled calendar and wonder why I feel the need to control my time. For the new year I am establishing a few daily goals and focusing on achieving those before the days end meanwhile allowing life's unpredictability to happen.

5. Ease Out of a Caffeine Addiction:
Your probably laughing or crying at the mere thought of achieving this goal. I believe in you to achieve this! Caffeine is bad for you but even I can't help but have the occasional cup of coffee throughout the day. Some fantastic ways to curb your cravings are:

  • Invest in tea that is coffee flavored. Tea has half the amount of caffeine and yet you will still have that coffee taste.
  • Invest in quality decaff coffee.
  • Drink flavored water.
Health Hint: quitting caffeine will bring some unusual side effect such as depression, fatigue, headaches and irritability but stay strong!

6.Embrace Sleep:
Despite popular belief sleep is more than a waste of time. Sleep helps your body rejuvenate and is extremely important. I know the night brings quality productive work time but give your body 8 hours! It will thank you in return with more energy and clarity!

7.Make Time for Physical Fitness:
Your body benefits from exercise both mentally and physically. It produces a chemical in the brain that is associated with happiness and clarity. Who doesn't need more of that!?






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recipe: Easy Smoothies

Well, this new year my goal is to become healthier. 
So basically.. eat less crap and eat more foods that will help improve my body and overall health.

In our previous post on the importance of having a morning routine,
we talked about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. 

Trust me... it really is!

Having breakfast in the morning will jump starts your metabolism, 
increase concentration,  help maintain weight (less tempted to over eat later) and give you more energy throughout the day!

I know what your thinking...
..."That's great Sarah, but I don't have time to whip up a balanced meal in the morning"

Trust me you can!



Smoothies are a great way to get a healthy and delicious start to your day
I even like them for a "sweet" snack in the evening instead of ice cream.

All you have to do is throw ingredients such as fruit (fresh or frozen), peanut-butter, spinach, yogurt, oats and juice 
in the blender. Super easy!




Time Saving Tip: At the start of your week, pre-portion your non-liquid ingredients (not milk, juice, yogurt) into small freezer Ziploc bags. Label and freeze. When you are rushing around your house in the morning, all you need to do is dump the contents of the bag into your blender, add your liquid of choice and blend!

**If you want to pre-portion your liquids as well - try freezing your juice, yogurt, almond milk or coconut milk in ice cube trays. Once frozen, break into cubes and place a few into your portioned Ziploc baggies. 


Here are some easy smoothie recipes to get you started: 

(Add more protein to any recipe by adding a serving of protein powder!)

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie
Place 8 frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut and 1/2 cup plain yogurt into a blender. Blend until smooth. Serves 1

Pineapple Green Smoothie
Place 1/2 cup kale, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, and 1/4 cup water into a blender. 
Blend until smooth. Serves 1.

Chocolate-Banana Smoothie
Place 1 peeled- frozen bananas, 2 Tbs peanut-butter, 2 Tbs cocoa powder, 2 Tbs rolled oats, 
and 1/2 cup water into a blender. Blend until smooth. Serves 1.

Spiced Pumpkin Smoothie
1 cup ice, 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup pure pumpkin puree, 1 Tbs honey, and a dash of nutmeg. 
Blend until smooth. Serves 1.

Blueberry Green Tea Smoothie
Ingredients: 1/2 c. frozen blueberries, 2 cups green tea (room temperature), 1 Tbs Agave nectar (or honey)
Divide blueberries among the compartments of an ice cube tray. Fill tray with green tea and freeze. Place frozen cubes, remaining tea and agave nectar into blender. Blend until smooth. Serves 2.


 What is your favorite smoothie recipe?
Add yours below in the comments box!








Monday, January 13, 2014

A Letter to Myself on my Wedding Day

With the holidays to our past and Valentine's Day right around the corner, 
'tis the season for engagements, and rightfully so!
There is something so romantic about the holidays.
All the holiday lights, being close to friends and family, 
the excitement of a new year, and the hope that your significant other is "popping the question". 

With all those engagements, we come to a season of weddings.
 I know at least nine people who are getting married in this calendar year alone... nine!
I love weddings...they are just so joyful, have so much love and excitement.

Everything about a wedding is so exciting..
That anticipation on the grooms face as he waits to see his new bride. 
The nerves of the bride as she pins her veil on and smiles at her father before he gives her away.
The "I Do's" and "first kiss"
  (I'm a hopeless romantic, can you tell?)

So with all these weddings in the near future,
It made me feel that I should take a moment to sit and reflect on my own wedding.

Would I have changed anything?
Was it worth all the worry and sleepless nights?

So now I sit before you almost four years after my own engagement,
and I have to wonder if I wrote a letter to my newly engaged self,
what would I say?

*cough cough* So brides-to-be listen up, 
this is my heart-felt advice to you

A Letter to Myself on My Wedding Day

Dear Beautiful Bride, 

As you are about to embark on what you believe to be 
the most important day of your life,
 I want you to know that it's ok to breathe and I promise that everything will be alright.

Don't worry about how you will look in pictures.
...Your husband still thinks you look beautiful.

Don't worry if the church isn't decorated perfectly.
... You ended up only focusing on your groom.

Don't worry about finding those perfect shoes for under the dress.
... You kicked them off as soon as you got to the reception.

Don't worry about the rain in the weather forecast.
... The sun was shining for pictures and your young hopeless romantic guests had fun 
dancing in the rain.

Don't worry about if the favors are placed perfectly on the table.
....I promise they were happily eaten.

The seating arrangement that you lost many nights sleep over.
.... Your guests will comment for years how much fun they had.


Don't worry about creating the "perfect" play list for the DJ.
...Everyone danced the night away.

This day in your life is important. 
It's magical.
It's filled with love. 
But my dear bride,
 I promise this isn't the most important day of your life. 
Back then, I thought it was and I know you are feel it now.
Leave your worries at the door
and enjoy your day.

Just remember that the "most important" day of your life
is yet to come..

...Its creating your first home together,
and sharing laughs while painting the bathroom.

...It's burning that dinner,
that you tried so hard to impress him with.

..It's sitting on the toilet,
seeing the little stick turn pink.

... It's holding your child for the first time, 
and realizing that nothing else now matters.

... Its the first night home as a new family,
and your husband asks you to dance right there in the middle of the living room.

...It's being so angry with your spouse,
that you can't help but laugh at each other
because you can't remember why you were fighting in the first place.

..It's the "I love you's" 
and watching your family grow.

So my dear bride...

Enjoy your day and have it be worry free.
Don't stress out about the small things, family or friends...
 This day is for YOU..
It's a START of a beautiful journey,
and remember no matter what goes wrong...

... the "Best Day of your Life"...
... is yet to come...







Attention my married Dames!

What advice would you give, if you could write a letter to yourself
on your wedding day?




 



Recipe: Twice Baked Potatoes

Growing up my mom would make twice baked potatoes here and there, and they were always my favorite. Nothing is better than having potatoes topped with cheese and broccoli! Yum! These are great to have in the freezer for a quick side dish :)
Tonight I paired these with garlic and herb chicken. Turned out great!


What you need:
4 medium sized potatoes
1 c. broccoli- steamed
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (save some to top potatoes)
1/2 c. low-fat sour cream or cottage cheese
1/3 c. low-fat ranch dressing
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper




Step 1:  Wash potatoes and poke holes using a fork. Cover each potato with foil and bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.
  Remove from oven and foil. Lets potatoes cool and slice in half length-wise. Hold potato in hand and scoop out inside, leaving 1/2- 1/4 inch in the skin (use towel or napkin to protect hands). Place insides in a medium bowl.

Step 2: Mash potato with fork or masher (leave somewhat lumpy). Stir in broccoli, cheese, sour cream, ranch, and garlic powder. Mix well.

Step 3: Spoon mixture into the potato skins. Top with more cheese. Season with salt and pepper. (If freezing, continue to freezing instructions).

Step 4: Bake 15-20 minutes more at 400 degrees.


To Freeze: After assembling (do not bake second time) wrap each potato in plastic wrap and place them in a large freezer bag (label bag with heating instructions). To serve: Take out of plastic wrap. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until heated through.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wellness: Tips to Survive Aunt Flow's Monthly Visits

Aunt flow, discharge, that time of the month, the curse..
These words make most of us cringe. Lets face it ladies, having our menstruation cycle is not fun.
I have decided to show my ladies some counterattack methods to surviving the monthly ritual. 

Technical:

I swear by the free application called OvuView that I have downloaded on my phone. 
This application helps you to conveniently :
  • Keep track of future menstruation and ovulation dates.
  • Track weight, headache, appetite, PMS and other symptoms.
  • Inform you so next time you go to the doctor your not playing the infamous guessing game. "uhh.. I think i got it last Wednesday doctor..?"
Yoga to Ease Pain:
Its better for your body to relax in cleansing time and focus on relaxing poses.
Grab a blanket, two pillows(or a body pillow), your computer and some relaxing music and enjoy!
Hint: I play this on mute with Pandora Yoga Channel in the background.

Foods for Cramps:
  • Celery helps to keep your body from keeping water weight.
  • Salmon helps fight your body against swelling.
  • Dark chocolate that is over 70% cocoa will help relax your muscles.
  • Drinking water will help your body stay regular.
  • Green tea will help to soothe your cramping muscles.
  • Hummus will help to lift your mood and give you a good nights sleep.
AVOID: diary, caffeine, sugar , alcohol, and red meat.


To be happy and healthy your body needs some tender loving care so stay informed and feel free to comment below with questions or comments!



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Recipe: Fro-Yo Blueberries

I have a bit of a sweet tooth. and I love to munch, so I am working on finding fun snacks to have on hand for whenever the craving strikes! Here is an awesome, super simple recipe for a sweet and super healthy treat!



What you will need:
-Fork
-Aluminum Foil
-Cookie Sheet
-Ziploc baggie or container to hold your finished blueberries
-1 Package Fresh Blueberries
-1 container of thick Vanilla yogurt (I love Activia, Yoplait Thick and Creamy, or Greek Yogurt)


Step 1:
Wash and dry your fresh blueberries
Step 2:
Cover your cookie sheet with the aluminum foil
Step 3:
Open and stir your yogurt, begin dipping the blueberries in the yogurt fully covering them, then placing them on the aluminum foil. (I tried using toothpicks but the blueberries really didn't stick, so a fork and your fingers will work!)
Step 4:
Once you have covered all of your blueberries pop the filled cookie sheet in your freezer for 1 hour
Step 5:
Pop all of the blueberries off the sheet and put them in your Ziploc bag or storage container, and you are done! Told ya it was easy!...and delicious!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside!

Greetings from Minnesota!

With the temp dropping well below zero (-20 degrees here!)

and schools closing around the state...

How did you spend your chilly day?
...snuggled on the couch?
... playing outside?






Wishing you warm thoughts!!!

Love, 

The Modern Dame   



Recipe: Whole Wheat Spaghetti Pie

Wondering what to do with your leftover spaghetti noodles and meat sauce? Why make another meal of course!
     Spaghetti Pie was a family favorite growing up. Not only because its easy and has all the yummy flavors of regular spaghetti, but it freezer friendly! Just prep, freeze, and then bake when your ready for a meal with little effort!


What you need:
Pie plate
7 oz cooked whole wheat spaghetti noodles
 2 Tbs butter
1/3 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 beaten eggs
1 c. low-fat cottage cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb browned- lean hamburger or ground turkey (I usually add oregano)
1/4 c chopped onion or  sprinkle of onion flakes
1 small jar all-natural spaghetti sauce of your choice




Step 1: In a bowl, mix together noodles, melted butter, Parmesan cheese and eggs. Place on bottom of pie plate like a "crust".

Step 2: Next add the next layer: cottage cheese and 1/2 c mozzarella cheese.

Step 3: In a skillet, brown hamburger with onion (i added oregano). Drain. Add meat layer to your pie plate.

Step 4: Pour a layer of sauce on top.

Step 5: Bake uncovered for 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Add more mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 more minutes until cheese starts to be golden. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Pair with a fresh salad and a glass of wine! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wellness:Is Your Candle Hurting You?

Candles have such a big influence in my mood and life. I use them for meditation, cuddling into a blanket while reading a book, and as a " go to" gift that is sure to please. These are just a handful of the influence candles have in my life. So finding out the little bundles of goodness are making my home toxic shocked me.
"What!?Why?! How can something that smells amazing hurt me?" I thought to myself.

Today I am here to inform you of why they are bad and what you can do to better the air quality of your home.



Hey mom! What smells so good?
Oh No! Its bad for me?


Why Candles are Harmful:
  • Artificial scents may trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Toxic chemicals, benzene and toluene, are found in the sooty residue. Toluene affects the central nervous system and benzene is cancer-causing.
  • Scented candles may have lead in the wick which then releases it into your home.
  • Paraffin is a major ingredient in candles. It releases carcinogenic chemicals while burned. The fumes are similar to those released from a diesel engine. This chemical burned can contribute to respiratory issues like asthma.
  • Other toxic chemicals that may be present are found in other products such as paint and varnish removers.
Avoid the Most Harmful:
  • Dollar store or discount store candles.
  • Imported candles.
  • Scented candles ( unless they are naturally scented).
  • Gel candles.
  • Cheap candles for aromatherapy from brands like Glade or Febreeze).
Best Options:
  • Beeswax candles burn clean ( look for 100% beeswax as some are just a portion).
  • Soy candles ( look for 100% soy candle)
Healthy Hint: if you must burn a unhealthy candle do it in an open space with a window cracked. Keep the use to once a week at maximum.






Saturday, January 4, 2014

Confessions of a Mother

Confessions of a Mother

Being a mommy is hard. A lot harder then I thought it would be.
I always knew that I wanted to be a mom...eventually.
For those who do not know me, I was blessed with the news of my first child
shortly after my 22nd birthday. I know I know some of you are thinking "why so young?"
Life as you know it doesn't always goes as planned, surprise right?
and I was faced with a surprise that changed my life forever.

As a new 22 year old mom, I was in for a world of surprises.
My life went from all night bar hopping,
to all night feedings and diaper changes.
I went from date nights out with my fiance
to " it's your turn" while we lay on the couch exhausted.
Parenthood my friends, it's just not easy....

Here I am sitting before you,
one hubby, two daughters, a dog and 
three and half years later
and let me tell you it's still as confusing as day one.

Being a mother is a catch 22.
On one hand you feel like you can never do anything right, that you fall short,
and you are the most horrible person in the world when your child needs to "cry it out" (which I am having to do right now so my daughter sleeps in her bed, awful feeling!)
But on the other hand, you as a mother have the MOST important job and superpower in the world.
What other job can you watch the magic of their childhood happen through their eyes?
Make boo-boos all better, just from your kiss?
Where you hear "Watch me Mama!" and "I love you, Mama"?
Experience the joy in your child's eyes when you walk into the room, and they are just happy that you are there?
You are the most important and influential person in another human beings life, and there is no job my friend that can top that.
No CEO, no celebrity, no McDreamy doctor, nothing!

So tonight my fellow mothers, I raise my glass to you
 (which may or may not be a well deserved glass of wine).
Through all the diaper changes, sleepless nights, potty training,
tantrums, and "no no nos" 

You ARE doing it right!
You ARE enough!
And as long as you offer all the love you have to your child,
YOU will NEVER fall short...

Love,   
A tired Mommy






Recipe: Banana Peanut-butter Bites




These little guys are perfect for snacking, pre workout and party platters.
Bananas and peanut-butter will replenish your energy after a workout.


                   
    Ingredients: 
          1/4 cup Creamy Peanut Butter          
2/3 cup Greek Vanilla Yogurt
2 Bananas


    1.     Peel banana and slice banana into slices roughly the width of your thumb.
            Hint: Try to cut the tops of the pieces horizontally so the mixture doesn't fall off.





     2. Combine peanut butter and yogurt into a bowl and mix until blended.       


                 
              
      3. Place a nickel-sized amount on the top of the banana piece and take another piece and place gently on top.
    Hint: Do not push down on mixture to hard otherwise it will squish out.


                                                                            



    4. Place onto platter or tupperware. Freeze for 15 minutes to harden and Enjoy!

    Serving suggestions: Use toothpicks to hold pieces together to serve on a platter.


    Be proud of your healthy snack!




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