Thanksgiving Leftover Brunch

So many leftovers you don’t know what to do with?! It’s the holiday time; which means food, food, and more food. Everyone loves a Thanksgiving feast; indulging in all of our favorite comfort foods, even the next day – but then we get bored, and there is still so much food left in the fridge. I am here to re-create Thanksgiving leftovers into a brunch beautiful for guests.

Read on, below!

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Most people don’t like Sunday; for it brings the Monday blues, but for me – it is my favorite. Sunday is a day when I don’t feel guilty doing the things I love; you see – I love breakfast, but I don’t LOVE getting up for breakfast time; this is where brunch and I make the perfect fit. Not wanting to have my typical daily green smoothie; I got creative in the kitchen with some leftovers and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome.

I took about a 1/2 cup of leftover mashed potatoes and 1/4 cup savory mashed butternut squash mixing together with 1/4 cup @kodiakcakes (for binding purposes) and a little bit of water.

Next I took the trusty ‘ol waffle iron and sprayed generously with cooking spray; I spooned the thick mixture to the middle and closed the waffle maker. (This makes a smaller rustic looking waffle rather than a full circular one, you can always take up the full waffle surface if you’d like!)

Have you ever poached an egg? Well I haven’t but I love their presentation and so I thought I’d give it a whirl! (See what I did there?) ok, moving on; how to poach an egg:

-Step one is to take a large pot and fill (I used a 4.5 quart) with water and bring just to a low boil

-It is best to use fresh eggs when poaching but first crack your egg carefully into a small bowl for even pouring

-Add 1 Tbs white vinegar to the water and take a large spoon or spatula and stir the water creating a vortex; when the water has a nice whirl to it, pour in your egg!

-The egg will cook for about 3 minutes when you will need a hand strainer to remove the perfectly poached egg

Now that your squash/potato/waffle is almost done and your poached egg is ready to go; I melted some white cheddar (can use yellow as well just had white in the fridge shredded up) about the size of your little waffle on a piece of tinfoil (wanting the edges to get crispy) and put it in the toaster oven.

Not only do we always have leftover turkey; but bacon after Thanksgiving! (Wrapping parts of the bird with thick cut bacon slices while baking gives an amazing flavor to the outer skin, plus who doesn’t love eating bacon with well, anything!)

My layers and toppings included:
▫️(bottom) Mashed potato and savory squash whey buckwheat waffle
▫️Crispy toaster oven Cheddar
▫️Slice of bacon cut in half
▫️Poached egg
▫️Sweet potato casserole
▫️Cranberry Sauce
▫️A dollop of maple syrup

The possibilities are endless though; you could even top with slices of turkey and pour on some gray for a more hearty Brunch (think chicken and waffles!) But now it’s Turk ‘n Waffs!

Alongside I paired with @gtskombucha Trilogy with fresh cranberries and rosemary. If you are not familiar with kombucha; I wrote an entire blogpost on it here. I absolutely love kombucha; it’s a great alternative to soda, alcohol, or fruit juices; plus topped with a few cranberries and rosemary it just looks so fancy and festive! Hosting a party no one would even know there isn’t alcohol (well there could be traces of it in kombucha but you know what I mean!) when presented like this in a stemless wine glass it is picture perfect.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did; if you are interested in other ideas and recipes to re-invent Thanksgiving leftovers comment below and let me know!

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The Darkside Behind the Glam | What They Don’t Tell You About Competing

If you were to look at my Instagram (@reliablefit) a few months ago, to a year ago; you may think “Wow, she looks great! I wish I could look like that!” Thank you to all who have commented or sent me messages along the lines of that level of appreciation. However, it doesn’t come without it’s form of costs. It seems fitness competitions are becoming more popular with the aid of social media; and while competing did have many benefits in my life, do they outweigh the negatives? I am here to share the behind the makeup, glam, high heels, trophies, and cheat meals of bodybuilding.

I recall back in late 2014 into 2015 stating to a friend “I could never do what you do and compete, I love food too much!” Yes, I was one of those people; and who would have thought a year and a half later I would be a WNBF Pro Bikini athlete–surely not me!

competing

When I first started my fitness journey in December 2015; I was training for my C.H.I.P. test to become a cop, after the completion of the Appalachian Trail–I was eagerly searching for that type of camaraderie that I thought I could find within being a cop. While fell in love with the training; I evaluated my newfound career choice before I got in too deep into the process (though I did pass the C.H.I.P. test with the male standards of my age group which is harder and more than the female!)

I continued training though; and vowed to start my first bikini preparation January 2016 with my first show scheduled for May 2016. I will admit the heightened amount of self conscious thoughts and perceptions about the overall end goal of getting on stage in heels and flirting in a girly manner. A caption from an early Instagram post back in January 17, 2016 reads: “It’s about the fear of wearing high heels higher than these, on stage in front of a bunch of people judging you on your appearance, learning new routines that I’ve never practiced before, and seeing where I came from in the beginning while never losing the love and dedication towards my goal.” This was after my first posing session. My coach told me to stop walking like a boy and lead with the ladies, you can paint a picture in your mind of a male baby giraffe trying to show the world he is delicate butterfly…that just about sums up my posing sessions.

I hated practicing because I felt uncomfortable, awkward, fake, un-natural, difficult, and just frustrating–but I loved lifting weights in the gym. My confidence in my performance started to rise, and as I began to see my body change and chisel into that of an athlete; there was no stopping me. My perfectionism kicked in and I stuck to my perseverance in and out of the gym; some may say it even heightened it. I became a little obsessed with health, nutrition, and the gym; it took over my life and I was determined. My coach wanted me to compete a month early (April 2016) stating that I was ready and although I I didn’t feel it, I changed my plans to compete in my debut amateur bikini competition in Mashpee, MA in April where I placed 3rd place overall and 3rd place in debut. While this was a great accomplishment for my first show; I felt like I should have won, so 3rd place was a big of a let down. Everyone around me (friends who compete, friends who don’t, and family) were so happy for me, and proud of my placing, but in my mind I thought “It just wasn’t good enough. I was supposed to win.” Yes, this is my thinking at something I have never done before; to be the best. I understand now how unhealthy perfectionism is; and it is a constant battle every day to be more aware and present in the moment and not get caught up in the performance. I wrote in a post on Instagram that following day “The adrenaline was pumping through me, the nerves shook my legs, and my smile felt dry and forced; there is a certain confidence that comes from training countless hours toward a goal and yesterday I saw it flood from within. I didn’t feel self conscious, inferior, or insecure, I felt strong, sassy, and confident.

Back to the gym I went; I changed my diet for this next month in-between competitions because let’s face it, I am a foodie–and I only had ONE cheat meal throughout the whole 3 month preparation leading up to my first show. I became so strict with my meals that I no longer enjoyed food; it was just fuel– protein, carbs, and healthy fats at it’s most basic boring form. I was much happier creating macro-friendly meals that I could enjoy. My confidence boosted even more between these two shows; I looked and felt dynamite–but in a way, was still unhappy. There are many highs and lows of preparation and competing; not to mention the unhealthiness of it physically and mentally.

Which brings me to May 29, 2016 “I started training 146 days ago; that’s 4 months and 25 days to not cheat once in 105 of those days, suffer, grow, fall short, work harder, stay focused, get a cheat meal, partake in my first hell week. For 39.89% of 2016 I embraced a lifestyle with so much determination, and heart that I never lost sight of the goal from the start. I knew I wanted my Pro Card. No one said it would be easy, but it sure was worth it this journey I’ve been on!

I have met so many new amazing people, re-connected with old friends, helped current friends, and have been surprised a few times when people tell me that I, have inspired them. That’s the overall goal right? Find something you love, something that you get so excited to talk about, and be a part of, that it radiates and inspires other people without that being the plan. It’s when you help yourself, you find yourself helping others. Four roses, three 1st place gold medals, a plaque, and one thankful girl!

While this is all true; it has it’s price to pay, you don’t see that in a celebratory photograph. You spend a lot of time alone or isolated; sure you may train with a team or a friend, you can bring your meals to the table with friends or loved ones, you have a whole team the day of the competition helping and cheering you on–but it is a very singular experience overall. I have met many amazing people through my fitness journey, rekindled and strengthened other relationships, but at the end of the day; even when people support you–it doesn’t mean they understand you. Especially in the fitness industry; outsiders project their insecurities and self-sabotage on you when they see your change in lifestyle. Asking things like “Hows your diet going” “You sure you can’t eat this?” “It’s just a bite it won’t kill you!” “I could never do what you’re doing, but you look great!” and so on. I am not here to make you feel bad about your life or choices; so please don’t twist around your words or mine to think I am judging you for your lifestyle.

After winning; I went into a celebratory binge, I ate everything and anything–I was loving life, happy as could be, and I didn’t want to workout. Which left me feeling mentally like I should be working out. I beat myself up over indulging in food, and not going to the gym. It was a good month or so before I slowly wanted to get back in the gym–and by that point my mental realization of being absent from the gym for so long hindered my physical performance. I felt weak, I felt un-motivated, and I felt obligated. I had to compete within a year of winning my Pro Card to keep it’s status; let the ego flood in…NOW!

I slowly started to lose my confidence and sass; it would come in waves, I depended on others and this is not something I thrive on. I changed a couple trainers, stuck with one through the completion of my Pro Debut prep, and placed 4th in my first Pro show. While deep down, I wish I had placed better; I was a little more humble this show than my amateur debut. I had made the goal prior that I wanted to make top 5; that would be a successful Pro debut for me, and I did–I met that goal.

After my Pro debut; I again binged on celebrating, I never was the young girl who had an un-healthy relationship with food, I never tried fad diets, restricted my eating, or had a sweet tooth. Now this all changed; through competing, I began to associate food with emotion, eating sweets and over indulging with winning and good feelings of celebration. I started craving everything sweet and un-able to physically stop without telling myself I needed to. Let’s put this into perspective; one night I ate an entire sleeve of Oreos…let’s not stop there though–because each one had a dollop of peanut butter on top. They were amazing; so good tasting that I physically and mentally did not want to stop until they were all gone.

The hardest transition for me now has been maintenance; and overall living a healthy lifestyle. It is a struggle every day, to not associate with “bad foods” or “I can’t have that” and the freedom of I CAN HAVE IT! Restrictions are a tricky thing; you have to be disciplined either way, not to have too much just because you can, and not to restrict too much because I am no longer in preparation.

It has been 397 days (when I wrote this post) since my Pro Debut show; and like I said, it is still a struggle daily to allow myself to eat donuts or dessert without feeling guilty; but then when I do–to not overindulge and stop myself from doing so. I tell everyone (woman especially) who pursue me with questions on competing; to be prepared, and not for what they think like meal prepping and living in the gym–but for the mental changes and post show blues that we all face, yet withhold from sharing…the darkside of fitness competitions.

 

What Turns a Rock Into a Diamond? | Pressure Cooking: The Ultimate Meal Prep

When I think of pressure cookers I think of the 70’s; accompanied by casseroles and David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs Album, oh! And pressure cookers. Not only are they the ultimate meal preparation tool; but they have been around much longer than the 70’s!

The origin of the pressure cooker was derived way back in the mid 1600’s; a French physicist Denis Papin, better known for his studies on steam, invented the steam digester in an attempt to reduce the cooking time of food. His airtight cooker used steam pressure to raise the water’s boiling point, thus cooking food more quickly.

pressurecookercollage

The more modern adaptation known as the second generation pressure cooker was developed around 1973, and lastly just in 1991 came along electric pressure cookers. This is the modern tool I will be talking about in this post to better utilize your time when it comes to meal prep.

I started using this tool during my second competition prep to cook large amounts of meat and vegetables at a easy and efficient manner; though a close friend of mine now encompasses his business around this cooking technique! Shawn Guiney– an entrepreneur, best-selling co-author, Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer; who is passionate about transforming lives one meal at a time utilizes the pressure cooker to it’s highest potential.

Shawn has a system for “done for you” service for meals that works; and the main appliance he uses, the pressure cooker. For more information on Shawn and his business Fit and Fresh Solutions click here.

For now; let’s dive into the pressure cooker (not literally, that would be quite the heat wave!) The modern, electric models look much like a slow cooker (and many often offer that function.) They are incredibly easy to use; often the press of only a couple buttons gets you up and running to set and forget while tackling other tasks (Click to watch a video of Shawn and I cooking with pressure cookers, and the various activities we accomplished while our meals cooked!) The pressure cooker we used in the video can be purchased here: Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1 Multi-Use Express

Alright so let’s get to cookin’! Most models have a browning function; now this is extremely helpful since browning your meat is essential if you want rich, caramelized complex flavor. It’s as easy as adding some Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the pot, set on the browning setting, and allow the oil to heat thoroughly; your meat should be browned in batches to prevent the pot form cooling down and steaming the meat instead of browning!

Once the meat is browned (again, you can skip this step entirely if you want just pulled chicken or pork or to save on time) you will add the remaining ingredients to your pot (vegetables, etc.) Or, if you have more than one unit, and you are meal prepping in larger quantities like Shawn and I did; you utilize one cooker for meat, one for vegetables, and one for the optional starch such as rice. Needless to say; you select the setting and time you will be using, and then the pressure cooker should get up to pressure within 15–20 minutes depending on the model and conditions. This is when the actual cooking time has begun, and the unit will start to countdown. What is great about these modern electric cookers is the ability to automatically depressurize; much like I wish I had a “let off steam” function– these appliances do!

Be extremely careful when around and using a pressure cooker; modern technology has made them much safer than they used to be, but still be cautious. Now is the fun part! Remember, the food inside is especially hot–as a friendly reminder: steam will come out, watch your face! (Unless of course you didn’t have time this week to make it to the spa and you would like a facial, in that regard; embrace –JUST KIDDING, DO NOT USE AS A FACIAL MACHINE.)

Your meat should be cooked to the ultimate tender fall off your fork perfection, vegetables will still have a little crunch to them, and rice has never been so easy! Flavor with any sauces, spices, or fresh herbs and enjoy! This makes freezing meals super easy as well.

I hope this opened your eyes to new ways to make your meal preparation not only more efficient, but also easy! The possibilities are endless to the combinations of ingredients that can be placed in a pressure cooker; let me know what your favorite combination or meal prep in a pressure cooker is below in the comments!

Fresh Starts | On-the-Go Snacks

I attribute most of my successful eating and lifestyle habits to my first season of fitness competitions. Not the food I ate, but the preparations. Let’s face it; we all live busy lives– whether you are a stay at home mother of 3 chasing them around while picking up clothes off the floor for the laundry, cleaning up the accident on the floor from the dog during the night before, or maybe you are the working professional that barely sees more in a day than florescent lights, four walls, navy blue, black, grey, and endless conference calls and meetings. We are all busy. I am here to make your lifestyle a more happier, healthier, way of life in every scenario of snacking and food!

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Even before traveling to Asia in 2017, I was always a fan of the food. So what better than to kick off this post with Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps! Originally, P.F. Chang’s was my go-go spot for a quick lettuce wrap indulgence; but they’re so easy to make! Bring them as your lunch in the office, to a pot-luck picnic with friends, the beach, or a quick Summer dinner option.

ASIAN LETTUCE WRAPS INGREDIENTS:

  • 2lbs Ground Chicken or Turkey
  • 3 Green Onions
  • 1 Can of Water Chestnuts; drained and chopped
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrot
  • 1 Cup Shelled Edammame
  • 2tsp. Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids
  • 2tsp. Reduced-Sodium Teriyaki Sauce
  • Pinch of Salt and Pepper (Red Pepper Flakes optional, I like HEAT)
  • 14.5oz Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 2Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
  • Butterhead Leaves (Bibb or Boston) work best!
  • Sweet Chili Sauce (basically romance in a container)
  • Seasame Seeds (for topping)

 

Who doesn’t love granola? There is a very logical reason why we all love it, this healthy snack is loaded with sugar; but it doesn’t have to be! Making your own granola ensures you know the ingredients that are, and are not in your healthy snack. From granola bars, to loose granola in a baggy, to pouring some almond/coconut milk over it and topping with fresh fruit and making cereal; I love it all! The other great thing is you make it in batches; which means once it is made– you have a quick grab-and-go option.

MY FAVORITE BIG-OL-BATCH OF GRANOLA INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Cups Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 Cup Pecans
  • 1/4 Cup Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Cashews
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 2 Tbs. Ground Flaxseeds (It’s important to grind them, a coffee bean grinder works great–otherwise they will come out looking the same way they went in!)
  • 1/4 Cup Honey/Agave
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil (Liquified)
  • 1/4 Cup All Natural Peanut Butter or Almond Butter
  • Ground Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2 Cup Goji Berries

 

Meatballs are my next go-to (quick and easy) snack or meal option; there are endless varieties of flavors and sauces that I never get sick of them! I usually buy 3 pounds of ground chicken or turkey from the grocer, and make three different flavors freezing some of each! Again, just like the lettuce wraps; they are good at the beach or on the go, hot or cold, added to other ingredients to make a dinner, or on their own as a snack!

BASIC MEATBALL INGREDIENTS:

  • Ground Chicken or Turkey
  • 1 Cup Panko
  • Poultry Seasoning, Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Egg
  • Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Parmasean (Not for the Asian ones)

 

SPINACH MEATBALL INGREDIENTS ADD TO ABOVE BASIC RECIPE:

  • 1 Cup Frozen Chopped Spinach
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Sautéed Onions Chopped

BUFFALO CHICKEN INGREDIENTS ADD TO ABOVE BASIC RECIPE:

  • 3 Ribs of Celery Minced
  • 2 Onions Chopped, Sautéed
  • 2 Large Carrots Minced
  • Franks Red Hot
  • 1/4 Stick of Butter

 

ASIAN CHICKEN INGREDIENTS ADD TO ABOVE BASIC RECIPE:

  • 1/2 Cup Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Onions Chopped, Sautéed
  • 2 Large Carrots Minced
  • 1tsp. Fresh Ginger Minced
  • Thai Chili Sauce
  • Sesame Seeds for topping

PINEAPPLE JALAPENO CHICKEN INGREDIENTS ADD TO ABOVE BASIC RECIPE:

  • Can of Crushed Pineapple
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers seeded and Chopped
  • Ground Cinnamon to Taste

Food is one of my favorite topics; if you haven’t gathered that yet, if you like these entries with ingredient recipe ideas comment below and let me know! I would be more than happy to provide you with full recipes step by step for any of these dishes, comment below to inquire! Until next time; I hope you think of me the next time your internal world feels like it is spinning out of control, you take a deep breath– look at the healthy on-the-go prepared food in front of you and smile. I will be doing the same, thinking of you! Food is both soul satisfying, and a communal act; let’s enjoy these creations together–from afar!

Not Only Juice

Many of you know how much of a smoothie fanatic I am if you watch my Instagram stories; always creating a new concoction, not to mention my morning daily smoothie. What doesn’t get much love though; is juicing! And you may ask; “well what’s the difference?” The main difference between smoothies and juicing; is the pulp content / or lack thereof of fiber in juicing most of the time.

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Well why would I juice then if I could just make a smoothie? The act of juicing contains a condensed version of most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals found in the contents, both juices (homemade not store bought full of added sugars) AND smoothies have their benefits in your everyday healthy lifestyle– it’s not one or the other.

When I was younger; I drank apple juice all of the time, of course the highest sugar content juice presumably. I never cared for orange juice, though I always asked for an apple juice at breakfast. The majority of processed juices are loaded with excess sugar and ingredients. Ever wonder why children are so susceptible to cavities? Between the sugar content in milk and juice alone; is enough explanation (though I am proud to admit I didn’t have my first and only small cavity until I was in my twenties.)

Not only are processed juices high in sugar content; but also calories! One of the first things I tell people when they ask me for nutrition advise is to cut out the excess beverages. It seems people tend to forget about the copious amounts of calories they consume through liquid alone!

Enough of the negativity already; back to the benefits of juicing your own fruits and vegetables! It seems more often than not, people tend to not drink enough water a day; juicing ensures getting not only many vitamins and minerals–but water. Vegetables such as celery, cucumbers, and spinach are nearly composed of all liquid! It is a quick and easy way to not only get all of your servings of vegetables in one sitting, but also hydration.

Ever notice how long it takes you to eat a cheeseburger (for me it is like 3 minutes flat) and then how long it takes to eat a large salad? I am already quite aware I eat too fast; it’s all so good, I just want to get it in as quick as possible! However, the physical process of chewing food helps to break it down into smaller particles. Which helps to reduce stress on the esophagus, and helps the stomach metabolize your food. When you chew each mouthful properly, you also release a lot of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. Needless to say I take longer to sit and chew raw vegetables in a salad, than I do to shovel in a hamburger.

Which means; if you don’t enjoy most vegetables, you are not going to take the time to sit for 20 minutes and chomp on them like a rabbit–your solution: juicing.

Let’s review some health benefits of vegetables you may not be first to grab in the grocery store; but are easily hidden in a juice, or smoothie.

BEETS

Can help lower your blood pressure, boost your stamina, fight inflammation, as well as aids in detoxification!

GINGER

Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, may prevent cancer.

GRAPEFRUIT

High content of Vitamin C and A, can provide health benefits for the skin, blood pressure, heart health, and disease prevention.

KALE

Vitamins A, C, and K, Folate (a B vitamin that’s key for brain development) Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, Lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that give kale its deep, dark green coloring and protect against macular degeneration and cataracts– Minerals including phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

PARSLEY

Antibacterial properties; freshens breath, can help eliminate body odor and treat excessive flatulence, flavonoid called myricetin may help fighting skin cancer, Apigenin decrease the size of tumors caused by breast cancer.

CILANTRO

Rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds, Vitamin A, K, and Potassium, calcium help to build strong bones, teeth, and hair.

TURMERIC

Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (with the consumption of black pepper to aid absorption.) anti-inflammatory, boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain, aids in prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and cancer.

RED CABBAGE

Vitamin A, C, fiber, sulphur which helps the liver at filtering toxins, potassium, which improves blood circulation, Vitamin B, magnesium, calcium, manganese, Generous levels of a particular amino acid called glutamine are found in red cabbage, which is excellent for reducing the inflammation and discomfort linked with stomach ulcers.

SWISS CHARD

Excellent source of vitamins K, A, and C, as well as a good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, and dietary fiber.

POMEGRANATE

Polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants can help remove free radicals, protect cells from damage, and reduce inflammation, Vitamin C, can aid to protect the heart and arteries, Vitamin E, Drinking 8 ounces of pomegranate juice a daily may improve learning and memory, according to a recent study. Ability to impact oxidative stress make it a potential fertility aid, may help reduce soreness and improve strength recovery. It also decreases oxidative damage caused by exercise.
The bottom line; be sure to check with your healthcare professional before drastically changing your diet and adding in an array of new foods, to be sure they don’t counteract any medication you may already be taking. Otherwise; to the everyday individual, next time you are at the grocery store–check out the produce section and select a few interesting fresh ingredients you may have not tried otherwise! Stick them in a juicer and sip on the longevity elixir of life and health!

 

The Secrets of Meal Prep

As many of you know; and some may not, I competed in my first fitness bikini competition in 2016. In some areas of my life; I am a black and white kinda girl, and I don’t mean in how I dress. I am naturally a perfectionist (which I am growing day by day away from, or trying to at least!) Which means when I started my new meal plan back in 2016 I was very precise, 11 almonds meant 11 almonds not 10, not 15; not a handful, but 11.

While taking out a food scale and weighing 4oz of chicken, 4oz of sweet potato, and a cup of broccoli was cumbersome; it instilled the procedure and dedication I needed to keep me on track. But this way of meal prep isn’t for everyone; and it certainly isn’t for me anymore, and probably isn’t for you either.

So what got me from 2016 to 2018 (where I am now) and how will this help you? Well what got me from 2016 to 2018 is a loaded question of ups and downs and learning curves for sure, but we won’t get into that here; but we will pause on learning curves.

mealprep

Through the diligence of being so strict, I learned the basic principals that I still carry with me today. After weighing chicken and vegetables for countless days; I now have a keen sense on what an approximate 4-6oz looks like, and in the everyday healthy lifestyle sense–it is good enough! When you are not stepping on stage at a certain body fat percentage; the extra gram or two of chicken won’t hinder your day to day healthy physique.

Another valuable lesson learned was how to shop at bulk superstores like BJ’s Wholesale; not only does it save you money, but when you eat a lot of the same food it is easier to get larger portions saving you trips to the grocery store each week. Now, my weekly trip to the store looks like 10 items or so rather than a cart full. Every morning my green smoothie consists of frozen vegetables which are not only cost effective, but their longevity far outlasts that of fresh. Which leads me to frozen fruit and vegetables are not only cost effective; but already cut, clean, and when talking about vegetables– already partially cooked. Which means less prep time for you during the week!

Typically I eat between 5–6 meals a day because I love eating and snacking. Eggs are a big staple in my diet not only because I love them; but because they are also cost effective. I usually add one whole egg to egg whites, and while egg whites are more expensive sometimes than buying eggs; they have a high protein complex.

Let’s do a little recap; shopping at wholesale clubs, frozen vegetables and fruit, eggs–which brings me to whole fresh fruit, and pre–packaged vegetables. Now depending on whether you are looking to save money, or time (because let’s be honest here, they go hand in hand) both of these topics may be beneficial to you–as they are to me. I love snacking on fresh fruit; which means my go-to are usually apples, and berries which are pre-packaged and when I want any kind of melon, or pineapple I buy the whole fruit and cut myself to save on cost. Whereas with something like pre-cut and washed vegetables or even frozen are sometimes more appealing to me than taking time to chop various veggies and blanching.

The grill and oven are probably my favorite meal prep tools; not only can you cook large amounts of ingredients at the same time, but they come out really tasty as well! Grilling chicken, and roasting vegetables changes things up, dedicated a day of the week (Saturday and Sunday usually work best for the 9–5 corporate world schedule) to go to the store and pick up anything you may need, and then prepare, cook, and pre-portion out your meals for the week. This makes each morning a breeze of just grabbing and going with your already planned out meals for the day.

I could go on and on about my favorite topic of food; so I will end with services such as HelloFresh and Home Chef, which make the modern life easier and healthy. Our family subscribes to both and while I prefer the majority of Home Chef meals over HelloFresh (HelloFresh is a lot more kid-friendly with their meal choices.) Anything from Salmon with Green Goddess Sauce to Chicken, Walnut, and Goat Cheese Grain Bowls make for delicious, healthy, no–brainer dinners. Each week; these companies send you a box with ice packs, and all of the ingredients you will need to cook the meals inside. As well as directions, and sometimes the vegetables even come pre-cut for you! This makes dinner a breeze, to come home after work, cook for on average 30 minutes and from kitchen to table you are able to enjoy time with your family through a communal meal. Because let’s face it; as much as we meal prep, and stay on schedule of a healthy lifestyle–food is sociable, and we need to not only enjoy it, but in good company!

Hike Like a Pro

If only I knew this information before embarking on 180 days of walking in the woods; trial and error, networking, and so forth is how I learned–but now I can teach you!

Backpacking is putting one foot in front of the other over and over again; well we do that daily don’t we?! Yes, and no–backpacking isn’t really that complicated; but by no means is easy. Most of us read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and think romanticized thoughts “I can do that!” “that would never happen to me” and so forth. But the truth of the matter is: your pack is heavy, blisters happen, bad weather and complications arise no matter what. So what can we do about it?

hikeprocollage

Avoid some common mistakes, plan accordingly, and avoid at least hopefully (maybe) one problem because of it!

The most common question I get is “what did you eat?!” As if my response would be skinning deer, wild berries, and mushrooms. While this is a valid question; you need to remember to pack the right amount of food. Since I had support at home monitoring my food boxes being mailed to me; it was more than once I had to tell my Mom that if she is going to send this much food, she is going to come carry it for me. And while I am forever grateful for her planning, and support along the way, the reality was; whatever I ate weighed me down.

Individuals who have never backpacked, and especially beginners; worry about not having enough food. Abundance is a trait well-known in our day and age; but that wasn’t so for our ancestors, or even cultures outside of the Western part of the World. We can survive on less, but we don’t want to; and with burning so many calories a day–I wouldn’t recommend it. The average calorie consumption per hiker per day should roughly be 3,000 calories; I know some hikers that had that in one meal alone…HoneyBuns are a staple out there I tell ya!

If you can afford dehydrated meals like Mountain House (Pasta Primavera so good!) Good To-Go (Pad Thai yes please!) etc. then they are the way to go taste, and weight wise! Otherwise, items like Knorr Rice Sides were a staple in my bag at times, as well as Tuna packs and of course the best tasting bars around! Lay out all of your food by day to really visualize what it all looks like and most importantly what it will all weigh!

Have you heard of carrying a crayon in your purse or backpack as an emergency fire starter? Well, if you haven’t–now you have! Another way to make a fire starter is to melt down some candle wax, add a dryer lint sheet cut up (as a wick) in an old egg cardboard carton.

This may be pretty obvious to the seasoned hiker; but Ziplock freezer bags make for great companions, from lining your pot to omit dirty dishes, to waterproofing maps, guides, and journals.

Many times throughout my days on the trail I was told by fellow thru-hikers, people in town, and day hikers alike that I did not look or smell like a thru-hiker (my family begged to differ.) There is a reason for this however; I chose to obtain the extra weight of carrying a packet of baby wipes. Not only for general hygienic reasons, but for cleaning injuries, spills, but yes mostly to wipe the daily sweat off me at the end of the day in my tent before bed. (Trust me, you can clean your skin and feel cleaner but the next morning you still have to put back on those stinky clothes! Don’t feel like carrying wipes, or want to eliminated some shirt stench? Submerse in a nearby creek and lay out on a rock to let the sun dry and disinfect!

I could go on and on about trail like hacks and tips (and will with upcoming entries) but I will end this one with a How To Tape or Wrap an Injured Ankle because let’s face it, I had my share of injuries along the way!

 

  1. Position your foot at a 90-degree angle with your calf (such as sitting on the floor)
  2. Wrap tape or elastic fabric around your calf give or take about 2 inches above the injured ankle
  3. Loop 2 U-shaped stirrups around your heel and up both sides of the ankle. Wrap another around the calf to finish off
  4. Start from the injured side; wrap down your ankle, under your arch, and across the top of your foot–repeat this twice
  5. Make figure 8 paths by wrapping down the side of your ankle, across the top of your foot, across your Achilles and the other side of the ankle finishing back at the arch–repeat this twice and you’re done!

 

I hope at least one of these tips and tricks was or will be helpful to you in the future adventure you are about to embark on! Drop a comment below to share where you are off to–I’d love to know where my fellow hikers are adventuring to currently.

 

You need special shoes for hiking — and a bit of a special soul as well.

                                                                                                                       –Terri Guillemets