Cauliflower Rice Dish

I posted this on my instagram page but I thought I would share it in a blog as well because it was SO good.

Cauliflower rice is new to me and so far I’m addicted. I’ve been eating it with different things because it’s an awesome way to get a serving or two of veggies while my brain is thinking I’m eating actual rice. It’s genius!

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Here are the ingredients:

-Chopped asparagus

-Cauliflower rice

-Broccoli

-Chicken

-Olive oil

-Lemon

-Garlic salt

-Pepper

Steam the veggies. Throw the chopped chicken on the stove. Add the olive oil, lemon, garlic salt, and pepper and you’re good to go. It’s super simple, yummy, and plenty of veggies! Enjoy!

Much love,

Amanda

Seven Healthy Snack Options

Do you struggle trying to find healthy snacks? It seems easy to grab the packaged stuff because it’s fast and ready to go. I think most of us can figure out what a healthy meal looks like but the snacks are what can get tricky. Here I listed some of my common go tos:

1. Almonds- I usually get lightly salted or unsalted. If I do the unsalted, I like to mix dried cranberries with them. They’re a great source of protein and fat and keep you full for longer than a lot of snacks. One portion of almonds is a lot smaller than you think, so I recommend paying attention to your labels.

2. Boiled eggs- I usually prep some boiled eggs on Sunday when I typically make food for the week. They’re a great snack to have easily on hand. They’re a great source of protein. I add salt and pepper and they’re easily one of my favorite snacks.

3. Fruit (apples, pears, mixed fruit)- I eat apples like it’s my job. I love love love apples and peanut butter. I’ve never tried this personally, but I’ve heard mixing greek yogurt and protein powder and dipping apples in it is really good. I love pears. I love bananas and peanut or almond butter. I love strawberries, blueberries, and any kind of berry really. Lots of antioxidants, fiber, and good sugars.

4. Whole grain crackers- Make sure to keep an eye out for the serving size and ingredients on these. You want the label to say “whole grain”, otherwise you’re not really getting a lot of nutritional value. It’s also easy to eat crackers mindlessly, so pay attention to your serving size and take out what you’re going to eat and put the box away. Otherwise, you’re more likely to eat much more than you need or were hungry for.

5. Celery with peanut butter- Celery has basically NO calories. It’s full of fiber and water that will keep you full. Adding some peanut butter makes for a tasty crunchy satisfying snack.

6. Cottage cheese- Cottage cheese has lots of protein. It’s another filler upper kind of snack. I always shoot for 1% fat. Add some pepper or fruit and you’re good to go.

7. Cucumbers and hummus- Cucumbers are also a super low calorie (and low carb) snack. Dip some cucumbers in hummus and it’s an awesome and filling snack.

I take most of these snacks with me when I pack lunches. Some of them take a little bit of prepping, but it’s totally worth it for some REAL nutrition when you’re snacking. I hope this helps!

Much love,

Amanda

Turkey Kale Pasta Salad

Here’s a fun recipe that turned out super good. I made it for a family event in the summer and got awesome compliments. I apologize that I don’t have measurements. I literally just throw things together and experiment. So, that’s what I recommend doing with this! Change it according to what tastes good for you!

Here’s the recipe:

-Whole grain noodles

-Kale (chopped)

-Yellow/orange peppers (chopped)

-Broccoli (cooked)

-Onions (cooked)

-Parmesan cheese

-Sliced turkey (deli style)

-Shredded cheese

-Olive oil

-Lemon juice

-Splash of apple cider vinegar

Cook the broccoli, onions and noodles and let cool. Throw everything together in a bowl and mix. Let it sit in the fridge to cool and serve. Enjoy!

Much love,

Amanda

PS: This post is also on my instagram page so check that out too! (Instagram link on the bottom of home page)

Six Personal Tips on Training for a Half Marathon

As some of you know, last winter I ran a half marathon. I had an amazing life changing experience that you can read about here, and also learned a thing or two about discipline and pushing my body farther than I thought it was capable of. I’m not a runner. I’ve never been good at it but I had in my mind I wanted to run a half and so I did. You can too.

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Here are a couple of tips that I put together, based on my experience, if you’re thinking about signing up for one:

1. Run- Well duh, right? But honestly the first tip to training to run a 13.1 mile race is to just run and commit a to it. If this is something you really want to do, then just get out and start exercising as soon as you can. The more exercise you do over the course of training, the better you’ll feel during the race. And make sure you have some quality shoes too. Click HERE for general Brooks (the shoes I used) on amazon (where I bought mine). And click HERE for the specific ones above that I bought and absolutely loved (ps: they’re on mega sale right now compared to what I paid!).

2. Find a program that works for you– You might be at a different fitness level than I am. So it’s super important to find a training program that you think you can handle. I literally just googled “half marathon training program” and found one that I thought I could do. I ended up tweaking it a little bit, but for the most part it worked great. If searching on google seems too stressful for you here’s a beginner’s book I found on amazon that would definitely be a great option as well.

3. Don’t shoot for perfection– In the beginning of my training, I would get so worked up if I didn’t follow the program to a T. But I learned fairly late into my training, that this is MY program and I can alter it however I want to. If I only feel like running 3 miles today, then that’s what I’ll do and I’ll run 5 miles on a day that I’m feeling more motivated. And if you have a day where you’re feeling extra motivated then keep going. I had days where I was only supposed to run 3 miles and ended up running 8 because my run felt good. Take advantage of those good days.

4. Cross train– My program set a day or two aside to train in a way other than running. So I could have done some weight training or other kinds of aerobic training. I was lazy and used these days as rest days, but I recommend actually cross training. I think running would have been MUCH easier if I would have mixed it up and did something besides solely running.

5. Plan for your long run– Every week you’ll have a “long run” that will be your longest run of the week. Plan for this. Find a day when you’ll have the most time or plan according to the weather. I might be a bit dramatic but if I ran more than 10 miles at at time, I always brought a source of sugar to give me a boost of energy. It’s worth a shot to help you get through the long miles, right?

6. Don’t change your diet days before your race– I thought it would be an awesome idea to “carb load” before my race. While I do think this can be beneficial I definitely had no idea what I was doing and felt bloated and gross a couple of days before my race. I’ve heard that eating a high carb diet earlier in the day the day before the race and then eating light the evening before and light if anything at all the morning of is a good way to do it. I just don’t recommend trying to do something crazy different that might upset your stomach. I recommend talking to someone who has more experience on this or I found this book on marathon nutrition that I think would be super helpful too.

Here are a few extra items that I’ve considered buying before that I think would make your running experience better as well! A lightweight fanny pack could give you a spot to keep your phone and keys (I’ve been wanting to buy one but haven’t yet). Some glucose packets to give you quick efficient sugar energy (you’ll need some form of sugar to give you an energy boost during the long runs and especially race day). A reflective light vest in case you run in foggy or darker conditions (highly recommend one of these). And if you’re running during the winter like I did you’ll want to get something to protect your neck and lower half of your face from the cold (not necessarily this specific one but definitely something to keep your neck warm, you’ll appreciate it)! This is definitely not a must but my phone would almost always die during my runs because of the low temperature so something like this could potentially help with that. And last but not least, if you’re taking your dog with you who if your baby is like mine HATES to be on a leash I recommend getting a gentle leader to help them run with you (I have this exact one in large and was BLOWN AWAY that it worked pretty much right away).

The best thing you can do is have fun with your half marathon. Enjoy it. Find music that you love or podcasts that keep you occupied. Go at your own pace and shoot just to finish. My goal was to not stop. I wanted to run the whole thing. Find your goal and commit to the miles. I promise if you get your mind 100% in, you’ll surprise yourself. Good luck!

Much love,

Amanda

PS: Email me with questions!

Five Tips on Healthy Lunch Packing

Are you stuck in a bad habit of buying your lunch everyday? Or maybe you pack your lunch, but have a hard time with the “healthy” part. Maybe you’re trying to practice new healthy habits and eating well is one of them. Let me give you a few tips on packing a healthy lunch that work for me.

1. Be realistic about how much you’re ACTUALLY going to eat- I used to pack WAY too much food. I would over estimate how much I was going to eat throughout the day and if it was in my lunch box, I would eat it. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not. So in order to prevent eating out of boredom I just think super realistically about the foods I pack. How much food do I really need to keep me satisfied and not hungry all day? This may take a little bit of playing with to figure out how much food is enough for you.

2. Pack foods that will keep you full for longer- Almonds and boiled eggs are two favorites of mine that fill me up for a while. High fiber and high protein foods will keep you full for longer. Thus, you’ll eat less throughout the overall day. Look up other foods that can help keep you satisfied, so you’ll eat more of those and less of the junky ones!

3. Try to balance your carbs, proteins and fats between meals and snacks- Although I did say to pack high fiber/high protein foods, its important to try to keep a balance between carbs, fat and protein as well. For example, maybe pack a salad with lots of veggies for your main meal and add grilled chicken for some protein, a small side of whole grain pasta salad for carbs (you can eat this as a snack), celery with peanut butter for fat and veggie side, almonds for protein and fat, whole grain crackers for carbs, and an apple for a fruit serving. Try to keep your food as relatively balanced as best you can.

4. Don’t pack a HUGE meal for lunch- pack a light main meal and a lot of snacks. If you bring something heavy and only eat that one meal your whole day at work, you’ll probably crash and find yourself wanting to take a nap in the afternoon since your body is spending so much energy digesting your big meal. Instead, pack lots of snacks and a lighter main course so you can keep your energy levels more stable throughout the day.

5. Portion appropriately- READ NUTRITION LABELS. These labels will tell you what a portion is and how many calories/macronutrients are in one serving. For example, one serving of almonds is MUCH smaller than you think. One small handful or 23 nuts is the average portion size for one serving of almonds and equals about 160 calories. Calories add up, so making sure you’re portioning according to the nutrition labels will help you avoid eating too many calories.

I hope this helps!

Much love,

Amanda

 

White Chicken Chili

With all the snow we’ve had lately I thought it would be a good time to post a soup recipe! Gavin’s mom gave me the base of this soup and then I added some more goodies and it was delicious.

I don’t typically measure anything when I cook, I just throw things together and measure by taste. So, I hope these measurements are decently accurate. Just add where you think is necessary based on preference. Lots of nutritional foods, but some not so much for flavor. It’s all about balance. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

-1 can of sweet corn

-2 cups? chicken broth

-1 can of black beans

-1 can of white beans

-3 packages of pepper jack cheese

-1 cup chopped cilantro

-1 package of cream cheese

-4 pieces of chicken breast

-3/4 cup onions

-1/2 jar of salsa

Add these to a crock pot for the day and you’re good to go. Super easy and super good!

Much love,

Amanda

My Run with Faith

I was at the gym the other night blasting my worship music through my headphones (literally songs we sing on Sunday morning, it’s fine). Don’t get my wrong, I love my pop pump up songs too. But some days I use my workout or run as a time to connect with Jesus. It’s my personal rejuvenation time. It’s stress relieving. It’s like my physical body and soul are all on this Jesus grind and I love it.

And as I was finishing my last rep, I looked around at everyone else working out. I wondered what their motives were. What kind of music were they listening to? What is their reasoning for choosing that music? What gets them hyped up to be at the gym? As you can tell, I’m a deep thinker and love to try to understand people. And as I was having these thoughts, it brought me back to a year ago when I decided to train to run a half marathon. I felt the need to share this story.

A friend of mine had ran one a few weeks earlier, and I thought it was seriously amazing that she pushed through 13.1 miles. I was instantly motivated. And to be completely honest, I still don’t understand why. It was October. I knew I would be training through the winter. I had never ran more than maybe 2.5 miles consistently and I struggled just running that. I think the challenge intrigued me, so I went all in. Minutes after talking to her about it I was looking up “how to train for a half marathon” on google.

I found a training schedule that looked good. I had no idea what “good” was supposed to look like. I had never been a runner, so I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I was discouraged by a lot of people. “Are you sure you want to do that?” “13.1 miles is really far.” “Maybe you should wait until the spring when it’s warmer and see if you’re still interested.” I. Did. Not. Care. I let the doubt fuel me. I started training and didn’t look back.

It’s very interesting how this challenge evolved. It started as something I really wanted to do. Then it turned into something I couldn’t not do because I had made it this far. And then it transformed into a way for me to honor my word to myself and reach for God’s help along the way. Literally (stay tuned for race day). It became an outlet for me to talk to God and deepen my faith through this quiet time.

As the miles got longer and the days got colder, I would use my runs as a time to jam out to my Christian music and find God. However, I didn’t start this way. I used to listen to the trap rap stuff. I rarely would listen to Christian music before this, especially during a workout. My mom always had it on growing up, so it seemed repetitive to me. But as my training progressed, I sought different kinds of music to keep my mind busy (running for an hour and a half can get boring and frankly lonely).

Running became so much more to me than it had in the past. It became a spiritual break from stress, from life, from problems. It was relaxing and comforting. It was my one on one Jesus time.

I could go on and on about the little things I experienced during different runs, but I want to get to the good part. The day I ran my race.

It was a Saturday in the beginning of February. I think it was about 12 degrees and it started at 8am. I. Was. Hyped. I woke up at 6am ready to go, lots of adrenaline, and carb packed beyond belief. There was one thing I told myself I wanted to do before the race. I wanted to pray about it. But as the morning went on, I completely let it slip by.

It’s 8am. I’m SO ready. The gun fires and I’m off. Until about mile 2. I got this feeling of complete exhaustion. COMPLETE exhaustion. Like I had no clue how I was going to run 11 more miles feeling like this. And I was confused. I had trained for months for this? I carb loaded like I was supposed to? To completely suck on race day? Not that I was trying to compete for time, but my goal was to finish it without stopping and I felt like there was no way that was going to happen. “This is punishment for not praying this morning”, I thought to myself. I had my Christian music on at that point and I thought “well maybe I should change the station to something more upbeat”. I talked myself out of it. I told myself God had been with me through this journey and He was going to finish it with me.

The race continued in that fashion. I dreaded it. It was cold. I felt slow. I wanted to be at the finish line with my family watching someone else do this thing.

Mile 11. At this point I was about ready to start walking. But I had told myself I was going to do it and I didn’t train for me to just quit. I looked up at the sky and started praying.

“God, you might think this is completely ridiculous. It’s just a race. I can just take a quick walk break. But I don’t want to. I promised myself I would do this and I want to stay true to my own word. My legs are cramping, I’m thirsty, and I can’t feel my fingers, toes, or face. I need your help.”

And after that prayer, my hand started to feel warm. I smiled. He was holding my hand. He was listening and He was with me. Little did I know, this was just the start.

Mile 12. In approximately the same spot I asked for help during the previous mile, I cried out again.

“God, I know you’re here with me. Im so close and I have no energy. My legs are in so much pain. I need you.”

And at that very moment, I literally kid you not, I saw Jesus. I’m tearing up remembering this because I was blown away. There he was, very faintly, running right next to me literally whispering in my ear. A winter hat, a warm smile, kind eyes. “You can do this. I’m right here. Run with me.” I had a smile from ear to ear and tears flooded my face (all while I was still running). He was running this race next to me, being my personal cheerleader. And holy smokes does it still give me goosebumps. The day you see his face the way I did that morning, it changes your life.

Mile 13. The last mile. It was the home stretch. One more mile left. God had held my hand, he had literally shown himself to me, and here I was praying for help one more time.

“God, be my legs.” That’s all I needed. That’s all I had left.

And as I’m coming around the curve of my last quarter mile, my legs were burning, cramping, and aching from hip to toe. When all of a sudden, in an instant, no pain. Nothing. I couldn’t feel a thing. My prayer was answered. My legs were His legs for the last stretch. He was running for me, 100%. Again, I started bawling as I had a burst of energy. He was being my legs for me when I felt like I had nothing left.

Right before crossing the finish line, I thanked Him ferociously. I was emotional. I was completely mind-blown. And after crossing that line, I fell into my Dad’s arms, shaky and achy once again.

Phillipians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. 

Literally.

The reason I share this story is to 1. Show you that God is 10000% real. And 2. Prove that He truly is with you in all things, especially times of trial. When you feel like giving up, when you feel like you have nothing left, turn to Him. Cry out His name. Make yourself vulnerable to Him. Whether it’s a financial rock bottom, you have no idea how you’re going to raise these kids, you feel like you just can’t finish your degree, or you’re running a half marathon.

Don’t let the enemy keep you from seeking Him. As dumb as it seems, I truly believe keeping that Christian music playing had a huge impact on my experience. I made a decision to keep Jesus close, when I really wanted to draw away and seek other ways to get through the struggle.

He is with you every single step of the way and He wants you to ask for His help. He loves each and every one of us so much. He wants to be your Heavenly Father and walk you through the trials. Mine might have been a half marathon that wasn’t a life or death situation, but it taught me how real and true His love really is. He used this small example to prove to me and possibly you too that when things hurt, when you are at your last straw and want to quit, He’s there. And prayer is how you call His name. It is tremendously powerful.

He knows your trials. He can show himself to you. He can be your cheerleader. You just have to humbly surrender yourself and ask. Give your struggles to the Creator and he will answer.

So let me ask you, what music do you listen to? Do you keep Him close to you? What are your motives for doing the thing you enjoy? Do you seek Him when you’re feeling drained? When you don’t think you can finish? He is your ultimate strength. He can be your legs too.

I hope this story inspired you the way it inspires me every time I retell it. I hope it encourages you to find your Jesus outlet. I can’t stress enough how real He is and how much He wants to have your whole self and your whole heart to transform your life into a beautiful story that He personally planned for you. He wants to be your shoulder to cry on, your best friend. We were made to rely on Him in all things.

Dear God,

Thank you for this amazing precious story that made me see you in a different light. I pray that you use this story to work on the hearts of those who read this. I pray that you show yourself to them the way you have with me. Show them your unconditional love and desire to be their strength when they feel they have none. Inspire others the way you inspired me. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

PS: if this blog impacted you in ANY way please please please share it so it can impact others too. This message is so true and I want every person possible to hear how real He is and experience what you or I have. Thanks loves!

Healthy This Healthy That

I’ve mentioned before that I’m passionate about preventative health, nutrition and exercise. Today I’m gonna dig a little bit deeper and give you some of my views on the subject.

To recap, I’m a senior at Grand Valley studying exercise science. I originally wanted to work in a career where I would have been helping fix a problem, such as therapy or through medication. However, the deeper I’ve gotten into my degree the more I’ve become passionate about working towards a solution before the medication or therapy are necessary. Thus, preventing the problem in the first place or using healthier options to aid in the healing process.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

Being healthy starts with scripture. I hold this verse close to my heart because health is such a big focus of mine. Our bodies are a temple of God. He says loud and clear how important it is to take care of our bodies because they are “not our own”.

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We all know exercising and eating healthy are good things. We know we should choose an apple over a cupcake or veggies over pizza. But, I think the hard part is the choice. Our country is FULL of marketing techniques that target unhealthy foods. Food companies stimulate our minds with images and quotes that make us think we are hungry. Healthy choices tend to be on the down low. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into a gas station looking for a healthy snack and I opt out with a preservative-filled granola bar or sugar-packed juice. Sure, these are healthier options than the twinkies or the snickers, but with the scientific advancements the United States has made in other areas it disappoints me that we haven’t promoted healthful choices to the degree we are capable of.

Something that is completely mind-boggling to me is how eating well and working out is seen as out of the ordinary in many cases. There is a negative association with the word “diet” and exercise is seen as something to find extra time for that we don’t seem to have.

First, let me say that “diet” does not have to mean restriction. According to a google search the definition of diet is “the kinds of foods that a person, animal, or community eats”. Your diet is simply what your food intake consists of. The definition of a healthy diet is “a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good, and have energy. These nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals.” Eating nutrient dense foods and avoiding high-fat and high-sugar contents are some of the most important things you can do when it comes to eating.

Second, exercise does not have to be this overly strenuous headache that some people think it up to be. A google search for exercise defines it as “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness”. It can be fun. It can be social. It improves health. It doesn’t have to be long and hard core. It has tremendous benefits, as most people know (I could go on about this but I’ll leave it at that for now). Just making some time to go on a daily walk can have positive effects on your body. Trying to incorporate some kind of exercise into your day can really make a difference on how you feel and improves your health in the long run.

Referring back to 1 Corinthians, we were made to take care of our bodies. Our bodies need nutritious foods for optimal health. Our bodies benefit from exercise in a multitude of ways.  Eating the good stuff and moving our bodies should be daily habits, but we live in a society where being too busy is the norm and people put their health on the back burner. Not to mention, the temptations the food industries market at every corner. Even if you are trying to better yourself in these areas, the way our culture values food and encourages high-fat, high-sugar options is nuts. Hence, we are living among an obesity epidemic.

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

I watched a video for class recently that talked about how heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, and strokes are occurring in children because of the increases in childhood obesity today. One teenager who was 15-years old had bariatric surgery done to help him lose weight… 15-years old. He was 400 pounds. The generation of children now are expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to obesity and the health problems associated. We live in a world where being overweight is “normal”.

And I’m not at all saying don’t have your pig out days. I most definitely do and anyone who knows me will tell you I don’t hold back. I love pizza and I have the biggest sweet tooth. It is completely okay to eat the ice-cream or the french fries sometimes. But, the problem is when these habits start to become your normal diet in addition to being sedentary. That’s when the weight comes on, the unhappiness settles, and the motivation decreases.

And you don’t have to have abs to exercise. Do activities that you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore. And take days off. Go out for lunch instead of hitting the gym sometimes. Being healthy does not have to seem like a restricting, not fun way to live.

My opinion on the entire thing? We need to work at ignoring society’s push to eat unhealthy and in large quantities. We need to advocate for healthy living and have fun with it. We need to surround ourselves with community that helps us live our best healthful lives. We need to try to make time to cook real whole foods. We need to work at finding that open window of time to slip some exercise into our day. AND, we need to give ourselves grace cause no one is perfect at it. Culture isn’t going to change. Only we can change for ourselves.

I heard a quote from a seminar one time that said something like this: “Eat when you’re hungry and eat well. Stop when you’re full. Exercise. And your body will form to how it is supposed to look”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Eating well and exercising is important, and I hope you start (if you haven’t already) to think so too.

As always, even in a blog like this, I’ll close in prayer.

Dear God,

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about this topic and share my opinions and knowledge on something you’ve placed a passion for in my heart. I pray that people take some of this information and maybe start applying baby steps of healthy choices to improve their own lives. Please give them the knowledge and resources to do so and help them have fun with it. We know your word says to be a temple in your name and it can be so incredibly hard because of what the world says, but I pray you help those who seek You. Help it be a positive fun thing, Amen.

Much love,

Amanda

Want some more of my personal advice or tips and tricks? Shoot me an email and we can chat 🙂

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