5 Simple Tricks for a Healthier Weekend

Happy Friday! Anyone else excited for the weekend ahead? I’ve been thinking a lot about the weekend (and uh, how much I love it) but I realized that the weekend tends to be when a lot of us throw our healthy habits out the door. I’m certainly not suggesting that you should treat your Saturday like a Monday but you also don’t want to undo all your healthy choices during the week. So I thought I’d share a few of my strategies for having a healthier weekend.

Simple Ways to be Healthy on theWeekend

  1. Map out  your weekend so you can plan for splurges. I’m not saying you need to plan every minute in your calendar but if you know you’re checking out a delicious new restaurant with a friend (and you’ll have to try the wine and the dessert of course) then you might choose a lighter lunch option. It can also help you reign in your spending, so your wallet will be a little healthier too. If I know I’m getting drinks with my girlfriends on Saturday, I might take it easy on Friday night. If I’m checking out a brunch place on Sunday, I might eat a little lighter on Saturday.
  2. Make plans that don’t revolve around food or drinks. This is such a hard one for me because I love going out to dinner but there are tons of other things you can do with friends! Go to a museum, check out a concert, or get a pedicure. If you’re feeling really adventurous, sign up for a workout class with a friend!
  3. Cook something new. Most people have a little more time to spend cooking on the weekends. Pick out a healthy recipe and give it a try! Cooking your own meals is almost always healthier than going out. Knowing what’s in your food can help you make better choices. (Need some easy recipe ideas? I’ve got you covered!
  4. Get moving- even if you’re working out. Sometimes when we workout, we think it’s a free pass to sit on our butt for the rest of the day. But you should still aim to get in some movement. Take a walk around the neighborhood, do some window shopping, even just cleaning the house can be a good way to get in some steps.
  5. Drink more water. I’m so good at drinking water during the week because I have a giant cup of water on my desk. But when it comes to the weekend, I tend to drink more coffee than water. Make sure you have a water bottle handy or grab a glass of water with your coffee mug. Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to do something nice for your body!

Ultimately though, I think the most important thing is to take some time to relax and enjoy your weekend! If you work a typical desk job, I’m sure you enjoy the break like I do! My standing desk is nice, but it doesn’t beat going out for a walk.

I haven’t totally planned out my weekend but I’ll definitely be catching up with Samantha! We’re taking a PoundFIT class together!

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Yay for active friends who also love shopping at Target. 😉 I’m looking forward to an active & relaxing weekend!

What are your tricks for staying healthy over the weekend?

What I Ate: Then vs. Now

My meals have been pretty routine over the past few weeks as I’ve been trying to focus on lots of veggies & protein during the latest Tone It Up challenge. Rather than just show you what I’ve been eating, I thought it might be kind of fun to do a little look back of what I’m eating now compared to what I ate when I first started blogging.

what I ate wednesday

When I started blogging in 2010, I was eating vegan so my meals were a bit different. I also hadn’t totally figured out vegan protein sources and I was eating a lot of nut butter and a lot of food that came from a box. I’m not saying that all food from a box is bad but I definitely wasn’t scouring ingredients the way I am now.

vegan breakfast

This was a typical breakfast in my vegan days. I ate a lot of Van’s frozen waffles! They were quick and easy. I’d smear them with some peanut butter and eat them with a side of sliced apples. It was an easy and filling breakfast!

Tone It Up M1 yogurt and berries with coffee

These days. I’m usually eating yogurt + berries. Greek yogurt was one of the main things I missed as a vegan. I could never find a vegan substitute that had the same amount of protein!

In my vegan days, I packed my lunch most of the time. I was spending a lot of time cooking because I had just started a food blog and because eating out as a vegan is a bit of a hassle. Since I was single, I often had leftovers.

Mexican-Stir-Fry-1024x768 (1)

Apologies for the less than stellar photo but hey, this was taken many years ago and I didn’t have a great camera. I ate meals like this all the time: rice, beans, onions, peppers, topped with salt and pepper and usually some nutritional yeast. Honestly, I should get back into this because it was pretty delicious.

These days I’ve gotten a bit lazy with packing my lunch.

cafeteria lunch

I tend to eat a lot of soup and salad from our work cafeteria. I’ve mentioned it before but our work cafeteria is seriously amazing. There’s always at least 3 kinds of hummus, 4 kinds of soups, quinoa, kale, etc. It makes it easy to eat healthy!

For dinner, in my vegan days I tended to eat pretty quick and easy meals. Cooking for one is a little less exciting than cooking for a partner.

vegan macaroni and cheese

I used to make this vegan macaroni and cheese at least once a week! I’ll have to share the recipe with you guys because honestly it’s still so good!

These days my dinners often contain real cheese. But I still eat a lot of whole grains, veggies, and proteins.

quick and easy quesadilla with black beans and corn

Sometimes I’ll even eat a regular white flour tortilla. *gasp* Back in the day I would only be caught with a whole wheat tortilla, usually one of those super-low-carb kinds. Those are fine if that’s what you’re into but lately I’ve been trying to play the balance game instead. Tuesday night be a flour tortilla and the next night I might just skip the tortilla shell all together. That’s been working well for me!

It’s kind of fun to look back and see how my meals have changed over the years. I’ve learned so much about ingredients and it’s really played a big part in how my routine has evolved over the years.

Have your meals changed over the years?

I’m linking up with Arman for What I Ate Wednesday!

Favorite Food Finds

I’ve talked about my love affair with the grocery store before and it’s still going strong. I’m not a fan of the “run in and grab one thing while I rush home to make dinner” situation but I am a fan of the “slowly browsing the aisles on a Saturday morning” kind of grocery shopping. I just can’t resist trying new things! Since I’m spending my hard earned dollar testing out thing that claim to be delicious (some are, some aren’t) I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you!

favorite food finds January

None of these things are sponsored, I just wanted to share my favorites!

I’ve been looking for new protein bar options for those afternoons when I know I need something to keep me going. I’ve been a fan of ThinkThin bars for a while, so I was excited to try this new-to-me protein bar.

think thin protein bar review

The other types of ThinkThin bars contain sugar alcohols but these don’t, so if that’s kept you from them before, give these a try. They’re a bit like Kind bars. 190 calories, 9g protein, 3g fiber.

I’m constantly reaching into the cabinet to grab non stick spray when I’m cooking so I was thrilled to finally try this coconut oil spray from Trader Joe’s. The flavor is so light that it works perfectly for a stir fry and it holds up to higher heat than olive oil.

coconut oil spray

I will say, it didn’t work quite as well with a brownie pan. I’ll stick to traditional non stick spray for that but the coconut oil spray is great for the stove top!

One more Trader Joe’s find: I love their almond meal.

almond flour

It’s just almonds ground into flour but it’s much less expensive at Trader Joe’s! It’s perfect in these almond flour brownies.

Let’s talk about powdered peanut butter. I’ve been buying this stuff for years and I’m still obsessed. I just wrote a whole blog post about how great it is in this smoothie. It’s seriously good.

PB2

It’s kind of funny that when I first started blogging five years ago, I had to order this stuff online. Now they sell it in a lot of grocery stores! Give it a try!

Ok this one is totally not a new one either but I just bought more of this Love Grown Granola.

oat clusters granola

The apple walnut flavor is my favorite and a little sprinkle on my yogurt is so yummy! I love how big the clusters are. Alex will even snack on it straight out of the bag! This stuff is seriously a perfect little treat. It’s gluten free, non-GMO and the owners are super sweet!

What are some of your favorite foods lately?

Switch Up Your Workout at Home

As much as I enjoy going to the gym or joining a workout class, I’m a huge advocate for working out at home. It saves time and there is no excuse not to do it. Even with just a few hand weights and a yoga mat, you can get a good sweat session in your living room. I think the most important thing to a good workout at home is making sure you don’t get bored.

Bored of at home workouts? Here are my tips for keeping things fun and interesting!

 

While we’re on the subject of switching up your workout, I thought I’d share one of my recent favorite at-home workouts! My friend Seo , a local Richmonder and fitness guru created her very own workout program! I grabbed coffee with her a few weeks ago to talk to her about it and when I asked her why she developed this workout, it got me so excited. Her whole focus is empowerment: giving people the ability to feel confident in themselves & getting people out of their comfort zone. So let’s talk about the workout!

fighting fit workout

If you haven’t heard of FightingFit, it’s a kickboxing style workout which means it’s a solid combination of strength and cardio.

Here’s why I loved FightingFit:

  •    Seo walks you through each move so you can learn along the way (it’s perfect if you’re new-ish to kickboxing moves!) Just doing this workout a few times through made me feel like I’d be more confident going to a kickboxing class in person.
  •    You can go at your own pace, so even if you’re a pro, you’ll still get in a great workout. The moves I was more comfortable with, I could give it all I have. The ones I was still mastering, I could take it slow.
  •    There’s no repetitive music in the background. That probably sounds silly but I feel like half the reason I get sick of at-home workout DVDs is that I just can’t listen to them anymore! With this workout, I can leave the volume on (so I know what moves were on) but I can blast my own tunes!
  •    The workout is broken up into three 15 minute segments. I love this because I can do the whole thing, or I can pick one or two segments and add it on to a different workout. (Or on busy days, I can knock out a 15 minute workout!)

Seo is an amazing fitness instructor (I’ve taken her class in person, which you can read about here!) so I’m thrilled that she has a workout that can be done anywhere. It gives you the chance to workout with Seo, even if you’re not in Richmond!

ff dvd

Thinking of giving FightingFit a try? You can download the workout program right here! It’s normally $19.99 but you can get 20% off with my affiliate code: IHV15 .

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Do you ever workout at home?

Tone It Up Meals: Week 4

Richmond got hit by a major snow storm this past weekend.  While I didn’t stock up on milk and eggs, I did order from Relay Foods before the storm, so we were pretty well set for groceries and I was glad I didn’t have to fight the crowds! It was actually kind of crazy how much it snowed, since we don’t typically get much snow here. This was the view from our porch:

richmond snow storm
Despite the cold weather, when I woke up on Sunday morning, I was craving a smoothie.

blueberry cheesecake pinterest

I started the day off with a blueberry cheesecake smoothie bowl. I was literally wrapped up in a blanket and I was sipping coffee with this so I was able to stay warm! We spent quite a bit of the weekend painting. We managed to paint the guest bedroom, the hallway, and the furniture in the guest bedroom. Here’s the guest bedroom in progress:

painting

The color looks much more blue in that photo but the color itself is Sherwin Williams’ “watery” which is more of a blue-green color. It’s a bit brighter than I expected but I like how it turned out! All of the paint caused us to work up quite an appetite so I whipped up this Mexican Quinoa Bake for lunch. We’ve actually had this a couple of times in the past week because it’s one of those recipes that only requires pantry staples. We were a little low on fresh produce since we hadn’t been to the grocery store in a while, but this recipe was perfect!

enchilada bake

It was sort of weird spending so much time inside but Alex and I played a lot of board games, watched a lot of Netflix, and we also played a little music together.

piano music

Around 5:30, we were getting a little stir crazy so we decided to venture out to Carytown. There were a handful of restaurants open and each one was packed with people! I guess we weren’t the only ones climbing over snow piles to get out of the house. We ended up at New York Deli and I got a Greek salad wrap with french fries. Those fries were definitely not “tone it up approved” but they were so worth it! I think New York Deli might have some of the best french fries ever.

new york deli wrap

We had a seat by the window so it was kind of fun watching the people walk by and we definitely enjoyed getting out of the house for a bit!

I’m still trying to follow the Tone It Up meal plan (although dinner was a worthwhile exception) so you can see the past weeks’ meals here:

Did you get snow this weekend?

I’m linking up with What I Ate Wednesday!

Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie

Richmond got tons of snow over the weekend so it might seem a little crazy to post a smoothie recipe today but I know I’m not the only one who enjoys smoothies all year round! Honestly, it doesn’t matter how cold it gets, I’m still filling up my Vitamix! This blueberry cheesecake smoothie is sweet and creamy but still low in sugar and high in protein so can eat this for breakfast and it’ll keep you going until lunch!

This blueberry cheesecake smoothie recipe is packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants! It's gluten free, low in sugar, and SO easy to make!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothie
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup blueberries
  • ¾ cup Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almond Milk
  • ¼ cup cottage cheese
  • 4 drops stevia OR 1 tbsp honey
  • Handful of ice (4-5 large cubes)
  • 2 tbsp whole grain oats
Instructions
  1. This is an easy one! Blend everything up until it's smooth and creamy.
  2. You can use fresh blueberries, but the frozen ones will give you a thicker texture.

almond breeze blueberry smoothie

I’m actually not usually a fan of cottage cheese. I’m much more of a Greek yogurt girl, but it works so well in this recipe! It makes the smoothie so creamy and cottage cheese is loaded with protein! If you don’t have cottage cheese on hand, you could sub in Greek yogurt, but I highly recommend the cottage cheese! This would also work well with strawberries or raspberries and you could certainly use the Blue Diamond Almond Breeze vanilla flavor instead of the regular flavor. So many options!

You can also add a few extra oats on top or add a sprinkle of granola if you’re craving a crunch!

This blueberry cheesecake smoothie recipe is packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants! It's gluten free, low in sugar, and SO easy to make!

What’s your favorite smoothie recipe?

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

Quinoa Flour Cookies [Gluten Free]

Healthy desserts can stir up a bit of a debate. In one camp, there are the advocates for the full-on indulgent treats (“moderation” is the name of the game over here) and in the other camp, you have the health-ifed recipes so you can enjoy a treat when ever you want it. Personally, I kind of like both of these approaches. Sometimes I want the real deal. I want a scoop of full fat chocolate almond chip ice cream. But then sometimes. I’m satisfied with a scoop of Halo Top or a bowl of banana “ice cream”. Truthfully, I think it’s all about what you’re craving. The great thing about these quinoa flour cookies is that I truly think it tastes like a regular cookie. Sure, it’s made with quinoa flour and it’s gluten free, but it has real sugar, eggs (with the yolk!) and chocolate chips, so you’re not skimping on the ingredients. I’d like to think of this as a real cookie with a healthy twist.

quinoa cookie bites

So enough with the debate, let’s get into the recipe for these quinoa flour cookies! I adapted this recipe from the Tone It Up quinoa breakfast cookie which I’d also recommend, especially if you’re looking for more of a healthy snack and less of a dessert.

Quinoa Flour Cookies [Gluten Free]
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Combine the quinoa flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut sugar in a bowl.
  3. Stir in the eggs and coconut oil until combined.
  4. Add in chocolate chips.
  5. These cookies won't really spread, so shape them into a ball and then flatten slightly.
  6. Bake on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat to prevent them from sticking to the pan.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. (Check the bottoms, those will brown first!)

Note: If you’re having trouble finding quinoa flour, check the gluten free section of the grocery store.

quinoa chocolate chip cookie bites

These quinoa flour cookies have a super soft and fluffy texture. It’s almost like a cross between a cookie and a muffin. You could also add in almonds, walnuts, or coconut flakes if you wanted to add a little more texture!

quinoa flour cookies

You could also make them bigger if you like but I wanted to keep them bite sized. Perfect for a little sweet craving. (Or if you’re like me, you can throw a few of these in your purse when you’re on the go!) If you love a soft baked cookie, you have to try these.

This healthy quinoa flour cookies taste just like a soft baked chocolate chip cookie! They're gluten free, healthy, and delicious!

What do you think: healthy desserts, moderation, or a little of both?

Tone It Up Meals: Week 3

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I signed up for the latest Tone It Up challenge and while I’m not following the plan exactly, I’m trying to focus on lots of protein, veggies, & fruit! Here’s what a day of Tone It Up Meals looks like:

When we woke up Sunday morning, I made a giant pot of coffee and made a breakfast that could keep me going for a few hours. We had a long weekend (with Monday off for MLK day) so we wanted to tackle some house projects. But before any house projects could be done, breakfast was served.

Tone It Up Breakfast

Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and cherries, with a sprinkle of Love Grown Granola. Nothing new here. Even though the weather has been pretty cold, I haven’t strayed from my chilly breakfasts.

After breakfast, we picked up some paint samples from Sherwin Williams, just before I headed to gymnastics. After a sweaty workout that involved lots of trampoline activity, I headed home to grab some lunch and start painting.

Tone It Up Meals Vegetarian Lunch

I had some leftover vegetarian chili in the fridge so I heated this up and had it with a few crackers. Once I was finished, the work started. We painted nearly all of the upstairs hallway before taking a break for church. Once we got home from church, we finished up with a second coat of paint. The hallway turned out a little more purple than I was hoping but I think it’ll be a nice pop of color. Let me know if you want to see pictures and I’ll do a house update post!

Once we finished, Alex cleaned up some of the paint supplies while I made dinner. I made a twist on this Mexican Quinoa Bake, but I used the last remains of the vegetarian chili as the beans. Since I had already made the quinoa in my rice cooker, this recipe was a snap!

Tone It Up Meals Vegetarian Dinner Ideas

After dinner we watched part of a movie while relaxing on the couch. It was nice knowing we could sleep in a bit the next morning, before painting the next room!

While we watched a movie, I had a little Halo Top. I’ll use an old picture, since at this point, I dropped my camera on the floor and my lens was in pieces. (Somehow, I managed to put it back together!)

Does Halo Top Ice Cream taste good? YES!

Overall, I followed the Tone It Up meal plan pretty well, with a little wiggle room in there.

For more Tone It Up Meals, check out these posts:

What’s your favorite late night snack?

I’m linking up with What I Ate Wednesday!

How to Make Quinoa in a Rice Cooker

This blog is all about easy ways to live a little healthier, which is why I’m so excited to share this little kitchen hack with you! I’ve had a rice cooker for a few years (it was a gift from my sister in law!) and I love it. But I’m kicking myself for not trying this sooner. Sure, it cooks rice perfectly, but did you know it’ll cook quinoa perfectly, too?

It makes sense but for some reason, I’d just never given it a shot. And if we’re being honest, quinoa was always one of those foods that seemed tough to get exactly right. Mine wouldn’t be quite as fully as I hoped, or there would be a few spoonfuls stuck to the bottom of the pot. Nothing awful, but it jsut wasn’t quite right.

And then I dumped my quinoa into this magical contraption and the result was perfectly fluffy quinoa! Magic!

How to make quinoa in a rice cooker

I know it probably seems like I’m overreacting but as someone who is trying to get more into meal prep, being able to make a batch of quinoa on Sunday and then dole it out during the week, this is a game changer! Alright, so here’s the “recipe” (but it’s so easy, it barely needs one!)

how to make fluffy quinoa

5.0 from 2 reviews
How to Make Quinoa in a Rice Cooker
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • ½ tsp salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Rinse your quinoa.
  2. Pour the quinoa and broth or water into the rice cooker. If you're not sure what you're going to use it for, you might want to just use water. If you know your future plan, broth can be a good option to give it more flavor.
  3. Add in salt and turn on the rice cooker.
  4. Most will be done cooking in around 30 minutes.
  5. Once it's done cooking, wait a few minutes and then fluff it with a fork.
  6. It will end up making about 3-4 cups of quinoa.

I was so excited about this, I already made this Mexican quinoa dish with my first batch of quinoa!

mexican quinoa bake

The recipe was already easy, but now I can whip this together in minutes before popping it in the oven!

Did you know you can use your rice cooker for cooking quinoa? YES! Here's the simple way to make quinoa in your rice cooker!

 

For reference, this is the rice cooker that I have (affiliate link) and it works great! I’m sure it would work in pretty much any sort of rice cooker though so if you already have one at home, give it a try!

What’s your favorite kitchen appliance?

Healthy Baked Apple Chips

Ok this almost doesn’t count as a recipe because it’s only ONE ingredient.

This healthy baked apple chip recipe is almost too easy! You can make these in the oven and have a sweet & crunchy snack!

But sometimes the best recipes are the simple ones so I couldn’t resist sharing with you. I was craving something crunchy but I wanted to keep it healthy so apple chips started calling my name!

If you have a dehydrator (oh, you fancy) then you could certainly use that but if you’re like the rest of us, an oven will do just fine.

This healthy baked apple chip recipe is almost too easy! You can make these in the oven and have a sweet & crunchy snack!

Healthy Baked Apple Chips
 
Prep time
Cook time
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Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 fuji, gala, or other red apple
  • Cooking spray
  • Cinnamon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray
  3. Using a mandoline slicer, or sharp knife, slice the apples into very thin slices.
  4. If you want them super crispy, you want them to be about ⅛" thick. If you like them a little chewier, you can make them slightly thicker.
  5. Spread onto a single layer and bake for 1 hour.
  6. Flip the apples and continue to cook for 30 minutes to an hour, until crisp.
  7. I tested it a few different ways and decided I liked it best after about an hour and a half when they still had a bit of chewiness. If you want them crispy, just bake until you get the crunch!
  8. If you like a little cinnamon, add it right after you take them out of the oven!

We ate some of them straight out of the oven and I packed up the rest to enjoy at work. Apple chips are a little easier to eat at my desk rather than munching on a whole apple, so I might have to do this more often!

This healthy baked apple chip recipe is almost too easy! You can make these in the oven and have a sweet & crunchy snack!

And there you have it! A simple, healthy, ONE ingredient snack! It doesn’t get easier than that.

This healthy baked apple chip recipe is almost too easy! You can make these in the oven and have a sweet & crunchy snack!

Looking for more snack ideas? Here’s a few of my favorites:

roasted almonds with rosemary.jpg

Roasted Almonds with Rosemary

vegan kale chips

Cheesy Kale Chips (Vegan!)

3 ingredient breakfast cookies

3 Ingredient Breakfast Cookie

What are some of your favorite healthy snacks?