The one ingredient diet trick

Apples

When hunger strikes, be it at meal time or late-night, it’s a minute too late to plan a healthy meal. Once you’re hungry, it’s  hard to make healthy decisions, especially if they take time to prepare.

For all the complicated diets out there, this one is really simple, and only relies on one ingredient. Apples.

Anytime I want something I shouldn’t eat, or it’s a time of day I shouldn’t eat (such as late at night), I eat an apple.

In my opinion, the goodness apples offer outweighs the nutritional intake, so they don’t count toward my daily calories. In researching for this blog, I actually found studies proving that the 60 calories from the apple can actually save you about 180 calories in bad decisions, such as what you’ll consume at a meal post-apple.

Put into play, here’s what my apple trick looks like:

  • I’m hungry, chips are handy, but I know I should make a salad or an omelette. I eat an apple while I make the healthy option.
  • I get done working out, am suddenly famished, but don’t want to undo the good I just did by stuffing my face or pulling through somewhere for a fast snack. I eat an apple.
  • It’s 9:30p, I’m watching “Game of Thrones,” and somehow I get the munchies even though someone just lost his head. I eat an apple.

Apples are sweet enough to parlay a candy craving, and the fiber and water content help fill you up. I always tell myself, if I still want what I was originally craving, I can have it after the apple. Thanks to the apple, the craving either goes away, or I indulge in less of it because I’m already more full from having the apple. It’s my version of the apple-a-day concept.

You’ll never regret having an apple. Unlike many food options out there, you’ll never say, “Man, I really shouldn’t have eaten that apple.”

Need help finding the right apple? I choose my apples by smell. I stand in the produce aisle sniffing each apple until I land on the one that makes me want to take a bite.

This trick will not work with applesauce or apple juice. Go for the whole apple, skin and all.

Plan to have a washed apple ready to eat in your car, purse, desk, gym bag… anywhere. If you have a bottle of water and an apple with you at all times, you will be setup for success. Some studies have even shown apples to be fat blockers.

I hope this trick helps you the way it helps me. Apples are an easy, inexpensive way to make a good decision each day. Let that good decision lead to more!

 


Butternut squash savory pie

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Here I go again, making squash pie for dinner. Although, last time it was spaghetti squash, and this time it’s butternut. Totally different…

Truth…I’m a southern girl. If it’s in a pie shell, there’s a really good chance I’m going to like it. Plus, it looks fancy even though it’s really easy.

This dish is vegetarian, but carnivores should expect a hearty, complete meal with protein. Between the eggs, nuts and cheese, you’re covered. Add it to your meatless Monday rotation.

It’s also complete from a nutritional perspective, and the flavor and vehicle is family friendly.

Savory Butternut Squash Pie

  • 1 frozen pie shell
  • 1 bag of frozen butternut squash
  • 1 handful of frozen kale
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • s&p
  • 1 handful of walnuts

Preheat oven to 400.
Cook onion in olive oil until golden, add garlic, stir for one minute, add squash and kale and cook until fully defrosted, remove from heat and add to pie shell.

Whisk eggs, basil and a sprinkle of each salt and pepper. Pour over mixture in shell. Top with parmesan then walnuts.

Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing.


Grapefruit, avocado salad with chicken

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Just as cold months have us clambering for thick, rich foods, warmer months are all about salads and grilling. Our bodies instinctually know we don’t need as much fat when it’s warm, but we do need more hydration, and the season is ripe for beautiful fruits and vegetables.

Below is an easy salad packed with flavor and health benefits.

Grapefruit is loaded with water, fiber, vitamin C and lycopene. It helps you feel full, slim down, fight aging cells and build immunity.

Avocados are great for eyes, skin, hair, heart, good cholesterol, fighting cravings for bad fats, absorbing other nutrients…they’re even good for unborn babies.

Walnuts help with weight management, sleep, hair, heart disease, skin, preventing cancer, diabetes and dementia, and fighting off stress.

Basil has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.

Put them all together, and you get a glow-inducing meal that tastes as amazing as it is healthy.

Grapefruit, avocado salad with chicken

  • 1 package of mixed greens
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 1 Grapefruit
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 handful of walnuts
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon
  • 1 tsp jelly (I used peach, but the fruit won’t be strong enough to alter the flavor, so use what you have)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Torn/cut grilled or rotisserie chicken

Wash all greens (if needed) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop up grapefruit and avocado into chunks. Mix oil, vinegar, dijon and jelly. Toast walnuts in skillet or oven. Put all ingredients, including chicken, in a large bowl, toss with dressing and serve.

 


Dinner done easy: Rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies

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I was very excited to see hormone and antibiotic free rotisserie chicken at the store yesterday. I really try to go as clean as possible when it comes to animal proteins. I’ve got plenty of hormones kicking on my own, thanks!

Anyway, we’d had a busy day, and I just wasn’t in my normal cooking-mode. Easy was the name of the game, and it doesn’t get easier than chicken that’s already been cooked for you.

As a side, I roasted vegetables while I showered. Don’t pretend you’re not impressed at my multi-tasking.

The point is, you can keep dinner healthy and have it ready in the same amount of time it would take to make a processed, boxed option.

Rotisserie chicken and roasted veggies

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 squash/zucchini
  • 3 peppers, preferable mixed colors
  • Olive oil spray
  • s&p

Heat oven to 400F. Slice veggies, spread out on pan, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes. If your chicken needs reheating, you can put it in the oven halfway through cooking the veggies.

That’s really it. Just cut up your chicken and serve it next to the veggies.


To do list: Love my family

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When I’m working on a project, I have a one-track mind. I’m efficient, but oblivious. When it’s multiple projects, turns out I’m a multi-tasker with her priorities out of whack.

We’ve had a pretty wild few weeks.

We moved to Tennessee from Hawaii, our senior dog (my fur baby of almost 12 years) passed away in transit, I’m in my 3rd trimester with baby #2, we found and put in an offer on house, and we kicked off festivities for my sister’s wedding later this year.

Aside from the tragic event of my sweet Mason passing, everything has been exciting and happily endured, but I have a head that just won’t turn off. If I can overthink it, I will, and if you think it’s something I can’t or shouldn’t overthink, I’ll prove you wrong, just give me a minute to overthink how. Amazingly, I miss the little things while using all that brain power.

That thing I missed #1…my husband

My husband has been amazing through all the chaos. He’s stepped up as I’ve slowed down. He’s been doing more than half the share of parenting, packing, cleaning, house management, endless home buying research, calls, forms, etcetera. He even let me fly first class while he sat in coach with Aidan on our flights. Selfishly, my initial thinking was that I deserved the special help and attention because I was doing all the same stuff – while growing a baby.

It took being away from him for a night for me to realize I’d been unfair. I’d been forgetting to love him. I’d been saying I loved him, but I hadn’t really been loving and appreciating him the way I should have been; the way he deserves. The good news is realization was the first and only step to full repair mode. I came home, confessed my mistake, blamed it on the baby siphoning my brain and laid on the compliments, affection and attention.

All was right again in the world until… my toddler pushed and swatted at his baby cousin. We were appalled! We promptly blamed the daycare. Our first instinct was to enact punishment. We told him it was wrong to hit, push, etc., tried time-outs, reinforced sharing and gentle-touch… all to no avail. Our sweet, happy boy was suddenly acting out unpredictably.

That thing I missed #2…my son

It’s easy to miss a child under stress when they can’t verbalize it to you. We’d spent the previous weeks changing locations constantly, going from having a pet to not, leaving the only home he’d ever known, and taking every opportunity to pass our little boy off to friends and family so we could take care of business. Never did we sit down and talk to Aidan about all that was happening, we just toted him along assuming that it would all be over his head and therefore not worth mentioning.

Our little guy had his world rocked, and we put him in time-out. It seriously hurts my heart just to type that.

Thankfully, children are resilient, and I have no memories of anything before the age of 5.

A couple days of talking and explaining (respectfully, as though to an adult), loving him up, making sure he knew we were right there with him, he was safe, loved, and a priority, and we have our happy, sweet, affectionate boy back. He’d been so flexible changing time zones, fighting off a virus, being a trooper in planes and on long car rides, we’d forgotten his needs during what must be a really confusing time for him.

I’m so blessed to have such adaptable, understanding men (big and small) in my life. Sometimes they’re so good at being awesome it goes right over my head. I’ve come to accept and expect it. I get busy and selfish and forget that, without them, there’d be nothing for me to be awesomely busy about.

For all the things I convince myself are important, things that I allow to consume me, the only thing that really matters at the end of each day is who I am to them. It’s the one-track I need to stay on.

 

 

 


Pregnancy the 2nd time around

Here we go again! I’m so excited to be 6 months pregnant with a little girl, and this time is nothing like the first go-round.

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The 1st time around

My first full-term pregnancy was not a bad experience, but it wasn’t overwhelmingly good. Aside from some bouts of wicked indigestion, I felt fine, but my parents had recently split, I’d suffered a very early miscarriage shortly before, and I went from a busy life of working and a full social calendar to a new home far from anyone I knew.

In my 2nd trimester, we moved from Italy to Hawaii. Both are awesome places, but I didn’t know anyone when we arrived in Hawaii, and pregnancy is an awkward time to get to know one another. When you’re pregnant, you’re a bit between groups. You’re not able to hang with the party animals, but you’re not in the mom’s club yet either. I also couldn’t participate in all the water sports and hikes I longed too. I was anxious, lonely, a bit bored… the scenery was nice though (I’d be remiss to leave that out.).

With my son, I craved sweets. My thighs are lucky there isn’t a Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts on island, because I would’ve stopped by WAY too frequently. Giving into my cravings with him brought me down. The one morning I had a donut, I passed out and ended up in the ER.

I also spent lots of time creating the perfect birth plan, which I’ve done none of this time. Let me leave the hospital with a healthy baby, and we’re good.

 

This time

This pregnancy started out rough in terms of how I felt. My first trimester was rife with headaches and nausea. But, aside from the symptoms, this time around has been much better.

First, I haven’t googled anything. The wee one and I check in with each other, exchanging pats and kicks here and there, but I’m emotionally at peace. Even going into this pregnancy was less stressful since I was already content with my son. If God decided he was it for us, I was ready to be completely fine with that.

The other nice thing about this time around is how busy I have been. Between work, my son, an upcoming move (this time closer to family and friends) and the excitement of my sister’s upcoming wedding, I don’t have time to stop and worry about anything, let alone be lonely or bored.

This pregnancy I’m also in swim-shape. I highly recommend swimming for anyone expecting. There are days I feel like I could fall asleep swimming because I am so relaxed. At the most, I get in 2 swims a week, but I’m happy even for those couple dips. I normally find a day to do some weights sometime in there as well, and I’m either walking or on my bike pretty much every other day of the week.

I started this pregnancy 7 pounds lighter than my last, but my body seems to have a sweet spot where it likes to be for baby building. I feel good about my level of fitness, but my weight jumped right back up to a more cushy condition. First time around, the worry of what would become of my physique postpartum was scary, but this time it feels really natural. I never expected to be in better shape after a baby, and I’m confident in my ability to bounce back yet again.

This time around, I know to have protein to start my day, so I’ve avoided light-headedness entirely. If I want something sweet in the morning, I mix a vanilla protein shake with peach rehydrate…hello, peaches’n cream! They told me last time around that, although I was drinking plenty of water, I wasn’t retaining like a should. The rehydrate helps me retain the necessary fluids.

Cravings this time have been for salty and spicy food. Step away from my wings and no one will get hurt. I’ve had to turn away from chips that promised all kinds of wonderful taste sensations, but it’s been an easier palate to work with overall.

My doctor kept me on omega’3s and probiotics this go around, which has helped keep my digestion working like normal, and it’s helped balance out the fact that my skin has been more prone to breakouts than it was the first time.

Overall, I’m simply more relaxed, which is a blessing to my entire household!

 


Secret lives of moms and military spouses

Recently I’ve become aware of secret lives of my mom friends. They haven’t been actively trying to hide anything, the opportunity or the question simply hasn’t been presented.

We all have skills and talents we don’t get to use as a mom. But, if you dig, our pre-mom lives come unearthed.

These moms, who spend their time devoted to little ones, faithfully wiping bottoms multiple times a day, were all-star athletes who went to prestigious colleges on a full ride. They’ve played in symphonies, hung from trapezes, speak multiple languages, run entire corporations and lived all over the world.

The same is true for military spouses. These amazing ladies spend all day cleaning up messes and raising the next generation, and never think to mention all the skills sitting dormant and underappreciated, or the careers they left behind to follow love and support our country’s freedom.

Every time I find out something new about a friend I thought I knew well, I’m blown away. I’m surrounded by a truly magnificent lot.

When you pass by a mom pushing a stroller, managing a fussy child in a store or being the net for a little daredevil at the playground, remember that being a mom is only one of her many talents. As much as she loves being a parent, she deserves respect for much more than that, and the chance to have the spotlight shown on the full array of talents she possesses.

When a military spouse tells you it’s time to pack up again, even if he/she is off to somewhere amazing, remember she’ll have to hit the reset button yet again; new community, new house, new schools, new friends, new job, new everything.

 

Take the chance to step back and imagine all these women have to offer that they simply don’t have time to show you. Better yet, offer some wine, sit back, and listen.