My ode to butternut squash noodles

Ever since going gluten free (okay, like 90% gluten free), I have been craving a good bowl of pasta with meat sauce.

Everyone told me that zoodles were the perfect substitution for my old favorite, the whole wheat noodle, but they were wrong, really wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, I love zoodles. They are great with some some other sauteed veggies and a light tomato sauce. When it comes to a gluten free substitute that can stand up to a hearty meat sauce though, butternut squash noodles (specifically the butternut squash zig-zags from Trader Joe’s) are hands down, the best.

More like a fussili noodle than a spaghetti noodle, the butternut squash zig-zags are heartier and take longer to cook but their flavor is mild and goes so well with a simple meat sauce made with grass fed beef, tomato sauce, and a few herbs and spices.

Here is my super easy recipe for the meat sauce that I make with my butternut squash zig-zags. I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

1 pound grass fed/organic ground beef browned and seasoned with salt and pepper

1 12 oz can of tomato sauce

1 shallot (or 1/4 of a red or yellow onion) diced

1-2 cloves of garlic diced

olive oil

salt and pepper

Method:

In a pan over medium heat add about 1 tbsp of olive oil. Saute garlic and shallot and then add beef. Mix the garlic and shallot in with the beef and then add the tomato sauce.  Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer on very low heat for a few minutes before adding to fully cooked butternut squash zig-zags. Serve immediately.

 

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4 Food Rules I Use With My Kids

My personal rules about food with my kids.
1. Always offer healthy options at every meal. What is a healthy option? Whole foods that are not from a box; fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and meat.
2. Making sure that I am an example and not just an enforcer by eating the same foods that I want them to eat. Remembering that kids learn by example more than just by what they are told to do.
3. Enjoying treats WITH my kids. Yes, eating a treat with my kids or letting them give me a bite of their treat is a HUGE bonding experience. They want to share experiences with us, they don’t just want us to be onlookers.
4. NEVER using negative words or obsessive practices to describe food. Words like “fat”, and “too many calories” are off limits. And practices like counting calories, or low carb are not going to enter their vocabulary as they are too young to be worrying about these things and I believe that they can lead to obsessive thoughts about food later on.
Those are my personal rules. Mamas, do you have your own set of rules about food? I would love to hear what they are or if you agree or disagree with any of mine.  

You are doing the best you can.

Realize that you are already doing the best you can. This realization will open you up to achieving more than you ever thought possible.
Workout complete despite ANOTHER bad night of sleep.
Last night, actually all of this week, we have been struggling to transition my 23 month old out of her crib into sharing a bed with her sister (the bed is big) and it has been a struggle. Lots of choppy sleep for the whole family and it is definitely starting to wear on me a bit. I’m crabby during the day and I feel as if I am not giving my all when it comes to parenting. Let’s just say the mom guilt is setting in just a bit. The quote above really spoke to me when I read it because I realize that I AM doing the best I can and that there is no reason for guilt. This guilt is actually just holding me back and is detrimental to what I am trying to achieve.
Remember that no matter what you are doing, it is enough. No need for guilt, comparison, or a feel of urgency to do more. Let it be and more will come your way.

Wednesday Wisdom- Nov. 9

A lot of people create this perfect picture, in their minds, of what health and fitness looks like to them.

These pictures are created with help from images from magazines, t.v. shows, and social media.

While these perfect pictures can be motivating and inspiring, they can also can trigger anxiety and be intimidating.

Why? Because a lot of these images are of people who have been working long and hard in their fitness journeys and we see them only through one picture in one moment in time. We idealize their “perfect” bodies and are intimidated to take action because we aren’t “there” yet.

Where exactly is “there”? Well, its different for everyone but in all honestly, “there” is a fictional place that you will never get if you keep sitting still and just hoping.

Here’s the reality, you will NEVER be totally ready to start working towards a healthier life. You will always find a reason to “wait until next week” or “until after the holidays are over” and the more reasons you find, the more comfort you will find in just remaining where you are.

My advice? Take action BEFORE you are ready, before you feel that urge to start. Why? Because even the smallest change in the right direction will inspire you to KEEP MOVING FORWARD.

 

Friday Foods! Best darn green bowl ever.

There are days when a salad just hits the spot. The cold, crunchy veggies, the homemade tangy dressings, and the fact that you feel superhuman after consuming one, all lead to a winning combination.

The problem is (at least for me), that the same salad with the same vegetables day after day can get boring. On top of that, a salad never truly fills me up, I’m always craving more food immediately afterwards.

It was this boredom and hunger that led me to start creating my green bowls. I call it a green bowl instead of a salad because it is really a full meal, kind of like one of those bowls you get at Chipotle.

This green bowl is just one version too, there are probably hundreds of combinations that you can create. This recipe is one idea and can be used as a basic template for creating your own.

Here’s what I add:

-1-2 cups of leafy greens (I love romaine or spinach the best)

-1/2 – 1 cup of grilled or sauteed veggies (this could be anything from Brussel sprouts to asparagus to bell peppers.

-1/4-1/2 cup of whole grains cooked (quinoa, millet, or brown rice are my personal choices)

-1/2 cup of protein (left over baked chicken or tuna), if you don’t eat meat add 1/2 cup of chickpeas instead.

-additional veggies can be added like some cucumber, raw red peppers

-dressing usually consists of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, and maybe some mustard, experiment and find something you like.

The bowl ends up being pretty big so you could share it with one other person or split it into two meals OR just eat the whole thing, it is really up to you. This green bowl is great for lunches, dinners, post workouts, and can be taken on the go as well.

Let me know what you think and what combos you end up trying.

–Stephanie

 

6 Months As A Runner- A Look Back

Yesterday, I hit my goal of running 10k (6.2 miles) non stop. After it was over, I was sore, tired, and so proud of myself. I was able to accomplish the BIG goal I set my mind to. How did I achieve it? Consistency, dedication to the sport, and most of all, I believed I could do it.

Back in June, I started running-well jog/walking was more like it- you can actually read more about my beginner days here, and I was all over the place. I would leave the house, walk a little, run a block or two, then go back to fast walking. I was ashamed to call myself a runner because I just didn’t feel like it. I had no real goal, just go get out of the house and be active, I didn’t push myself, I just went slow.

By July/August, I was wanting more, so I set a goal of a 5k by the end of August. Not a 5k in an official race, just a 5k run around my neighborhood. I marked this on my calendar, I shouted it out to social media, I was going to do this!

That 5k felt amazing, I pushed myself hard and finished with a time of 34:05.

In September and October, I worked on speed and adding miles to my run. In general, I would get in an easy run on Tuesday, a speed run on Thursday, and a long run on Saturday. I would intersperse a few days of weight training and some yoga in there too. I was in a routine and thins were really coming together for me.

I had a minor set back in October where I hyper extended my knee and couldn’t run for 8 days BUT, I didn’t let this bring me down. I worked on core strengthening and hip flexibility and when I put my shoes back on after 8 days of recovery, I was rested and ready.

The next few weeks brought more miles and faster times. I looked forward to runs but also to strength training as I knew they really went hand in hand.

By the end of October, I could see my “finish” line. I had been adding about 1/4-1/2 mile on to my long run every week and I was closing in on 6.2. On top of that, my average mile had gone from the mid 11 minute range to the mid 10 minute range.

On November 12, 2016, I set out for my long run, the run that would be my first 10k. I picked a pace for myself (around 10:30) and I kept steady at it. I was not looking to set any record with this (mostly because I didn’t even have a time to beat!), I just wanted to see if my body could take me on this journey and bring me back in one piece.

There were aches and pains a long the way-shin splints and tightness in my groin-but overall I felt good, my mind wasn’t going to let me stop and this was the most important factor.

I was able to get in a zone, turn off the world around me (within reason of course) and just go.

I finished in 1:04:55, with an average pace of 10:28, faster than my first 5k and (obviously) twice as long!

I see big things for myself in the next 6 months. Maybe my first actual race? I know I should probably just sign up and get it over with but I’m looking for that perfect one.  As for now, I am happy running the streets of my town.

Its crazy to me how far I have come since June. When I started, I could barely run a mile without stopping! Now? Bring on 6, no problem!

Running is my sport, running has me, I will forever be a runner.

If you are on the fence about starting, or not knowing where or how to start, my advice to you would be to just start walking. Get out there and be as slow as you need to be. Go at YOUR pace but be consistent. Don’t be afraid of the big scary title of “runner”, embrace it early and become what you believe it to be over time.

All runners are different, all of our stories are different. Don’t compare yourself to another runner because his/her story is not going to be the same as yours.

And, if you are looking for a community of runners to be a part of, I started a small (but mighty) Facebook group for runners, you can join here.

Healthy Kids-Tips for getting your kids to eat healthy.


By far, one of my biggest struggles as a parent has been trying to get these two on a healthy path with food.
There are days when I feel I have failed them completely because neither of them will eat an ounce of what I serve and only want to eat crackers all day. There are other days where I want to give myself a pat on the back and say “you are doing great, cuz, look,” and I see them sitting at the kitchen table eating orange slices together (not because I even suggested it either, THEY suggested it).
Here are a few of my tips for getting your kids to eat healthy.
1) Be patient. They are not going to change their eating patterns overnight. Keep offering healthy foods and having them available at snack time as well as meal times, eventually something will click with them. Even after that initial “click” don’t be discouraged by them taking a step back either. Good things take time.
2) Lead by example. There is no way a kid is going to want to eat carrot sticks and apple slices if you are eating candy and ice cream. 
3) Have older kids create a list of foods that they love. From this list work on healthy alternatives to some of their favorites. Your kids might even surprise you with a few things you didn’t even know would be on the list.
What are some other tips you have to get your kids to eat healthy? I would love to hear them.