Sweet Potato Home Fries

This is one of my favorite recipes!!  I love sweet potato home fries with my breakfast!  It is a slow digesting carbohydrate, super easy to make and satisfies my sweet tooth.  I like to make a big batch of them to freeze and then I heat up my serving each morning in the toaster oven.

Ingredients

Ingredients

I have found that 2 potatoes are just the right amount to fit in the pan I use to brown them in and the baking sheet I bake them on.  Pick potatoes that are long vs. fat.  The really fat/round potatoes are hard to slice.

browning the diced potatoes

browning the diced potatoes

Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Peel and dice the potatoes and put them in a pan with coconut oil (about 1/2 to 1 tablespoon) on medium-high heat.  Sprinkle cinnamon on the potatoes in the pan.  I am pretty generous with my cinnamon since I really like it.  Brown the potatoes for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

ready to bake/put in the freezer

ready to bake/put in the freezer

Once your potatoes are browned a little, put them in the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes to finish cooking them.  I like mine a little crispy so alter your baking time on how you like them.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool on the pan.  Once they are cool put the whole baking sheet in the freezer.  Keeping them on the sheet to freeze will prevent them from clumping together when they freeze.

IMG_4925

frozen in Tupperware for storage

I usually leave mine in the freezer over night and then I put them in a Tupperware bowl back into the freezer.  Each morning I measure out my portion and re-heat them in the toaster oven for 5-6 minutes.  So yummy!!!!

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • cinnamon
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Where do I start??!!

I’ve had a couple of people reach out to me recently asking for advice to get healthy.  I figured it would be good to share.  No matter where you are, at the beginning or in full swing, you may pick up something new!

  1. Look at it as a lifestyle change, not a diet.  You want to make changes that you can continue and incorporate into your life.  For example, it’s important to eat from all food groups.  Cutting out all carbohydrates may give you an instant drop on the scale but guess what happens when you start eating them again… the weight comes back on.  If you love carbs, start paying attention to your serving sizes and what times you eat them.  Carbs provide our bodies with energy, we need more energy in the mornings than we do at night.  Moderation is key!
  2. Eat!!  If you aren’t already, eat every 2-3 hours (5-6 meals per day).  Aim to have a protein and vegetable at each meal.  Be sure to have fruits and carbs but try to keep them in your earlier meals.  Remember, these provide energy and you don’t need as much at your last meals.  Look at your body as a fire.  You start your fire at breakfast and each time you eat you are keeping your fire burning at a consistent pace.  When you skip meals or wait too long in between meals your fire gets low and you end of eating more and/or things that are not good for you to get the fire going again.  Eat whole foods and avoid processed foods.  Check out my Pinterest board (https://www.pinterest.com/fitnessgirlclt/) for ideas.  If you think that you don’t “eat that bad” but aren’t seeing any results, start keeping a food journal.  You may find your answer there!
  3. Drink water!  I try to drink a gallon per day.  I keep a pitcher of water in my refrigerator and pour my water from there so I can keep track.  If you are a big soft drink person, start to wean yourself off.  It will be hard at first but I can speak from experience that you will get to the point that you don’t want it anymore.  Alcohol in moderation.  Remember for each drink you have, your body has to burn off those drinks before it will start burning fat.
  4. Get moving!  If you aren’t exercising, get started!  Pick something that you like to do.  There are so many different options… aerobics, spinning, boxing, pilates, yoga, boot camps, etc.  Choose something that will challenge you and will get your heart rate up.  I am a huge proponent of resistance training.  Why?  The more muscle you build, the more efficient your body is at rest.  There’s nothing better than knowing you are burning calories at rest!  High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great cardio choice.  When you do HIIT you are constantly taking your heart rate up and down by going as hard as you can and then recovering before doing another cycle (no more than 20-25 minutes, 2-3 times per week, not on back to back days).  When you are finished your body takes hours to regulate itself back to normal which means that you are still burning calories!  On the other hand, when you do steady state cardio (staying at the same pace) your body goes back to normal when you are finished which means your calorie burn is over.

These are just some quick things you can do to get on the path to a healthy lifestyle. If you are starting out, don’t get discouraged.  It takes time to change habits.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.  Slow and steady wins the race!

PS-Check out the new page I added!

That Nagging Feeling…

Do you ever get a nagging feeling that just won’t go away?  Yep… I’ve had that feeling for a while now.  Sad to say this is my first blog since March 18!  How did this happen?  Ummm, life happened!  I will say that I have written this blog in my head at least a hundred times now.  I have been having trouble balancing life!  Ha!

I’m not sure what it is about the fall but we just really don’t get along.  This is the 4th year that fall has given me a run for my money.  Each year bring its own challenges and this year’s challenge is I just can’t seem to keep up.  Ever since the night before school started we have been rushing here and rushing there.  I’m not sure if we have been anywhere lately that we didn’t rush to.  Griffin is in 1st grade and plays soccer, flag football and takes ukulele lessons.  Don’t forget about the nightly homework (which has taught me I could never home school!).  Jack is in his last year of preschool (hopefully, fingers crossed!) and plays soccer.  Oh yeah… I also spend 1 ½ to 2 hours a day driving back and forth to preschool (which is totally worth it but after 6 years between both boys I am ready to close this chapter!).  Throw in keeping things going at home and helping my husband with our business, there is not much time left over.

 

Fall 2014

Fall 2014

I get 4 hours to myself 4 days a week and one thing that I do not compromise is my gym time.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is my time that I need/get/deserve to focus on myself.  The first place I got after drop off is the gym and then I fit in whatever else I can after that before I have to go back.

So… what’s been nagging you?  What do you keep saying to yourself that you want to do but don’t have time to do?  For me it’s writing.  I love writing and I hope that I am inspiring someone who may be going through something similar.  I have made a commitment to myself to write once a week.  I’ve picked a time that I can be alone that doesn’t interfere with everything else and I’m getting it done (instead of using this time to play Candy Crush, Facebook, Instagram or whatever else I can find to distract myself).  So stop thinking about it and do it!  I feel better now and you will too!

What about you?

I was in Bible study this morning and the subject of taking care of yourself came up.  As I was leaving I realized that it is exactly what the premise of my blog is!  Here’s some more detail…

The study we are doing is on marriage but it applies to any relationship (husband, friends, co-workers, children, etc).  Today two counselors/doctors/pastors from our church’s counseling ministry came to speak.  One of them told a story about his wife (I don’t know how long they have been married but I am guessing 30+ years, they now have two grown daughters but the story took place when their children were young).  At this point in their lives his wife was homeschooling their daughters.  He came into the kitchen on his way out the door to work and asked her to get a sitter for that  night so they could go out to dinner.  He just wanted to talk and spend time with her.  With tears in her eyes she told him she had nothing left to give him.  She was exhausted and completely worn out (this is how she felt in the morning before her day had even really gotten into full swing!)  She was so stretched with being a mom and homeschooling that when it came time to the relationship with her husband she did not have the time or energy for him.  He left for work and turned around half way there and went back home.  He told her that was not good enough, she had to let something go.

What he told us is that it is okay to take time for ourselves.  We should not feel guilty for taking an hour or whatever time to do something for ourselves.  As I was driving away I had a light bulb moment!  Yes!!  This is exactly what my blog is about!  It’s about taking care of yourself mentally and physically so that you can better take care of others.  Our relationships will surely suffer if we give everything away and don’t keep anything for ourselves.

For the moms out there… my Bible study is for young moms.  There were 120+ women in the room this morning, all with pre-school and early elementary age kids, being told by one of our pastors that it is okay to take time away from your kids and do something for themselves.  Nothing to feel guilty about.  For me this is exercising.  What is it for you?

What’s the plan?

Have you heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”?  When it comes to eating healthy this can’t be more true!  How many times have you stood in your kitchen wondering what to have for dinner, search the fridge and pantry and ended up eating something that was unhealthy whether it be take out or putting together a random meal from what you have.  How do you overcome this obstacle?  Plan!!

Every week I plan all of the meals for the upcoming week.  I use a decorative plate that sits on my kitchen counter to write out our dinner menu.  I go through cook books, ask my family what they would like and see what we have in the freezer/pantry that I can build meals around.  After I’ve assembled our menu I go to the grocery store (I only go once a week, another plus to planning!) and get everything I need.  When dinner times comes each night all I have to do is check my menu to decide what to have knowing I have all the ingredients.

Weekly Menu Plate

Weekly Menu Plate

Eating healthy doesn’t have to involve an elaborate meal.  Let’s face it if you have been at work all day and come home whether it be to an empty house or house full the last thing you probably want to do is stand in the kitchen for 1-2 hours cooking and cleaning.  The easiest meal in my opinion is some type of meat on the grill.  You can put it in marinade in the morning and put it on the grill when you get home (best part being there is minimal clean up!).  Put some vegetables and corn on the grill with it and you have a complete meal.  Since it’s winter and the grill is not always an option, crockpots are great.  Again, you fix your meal earlier in the day and when it’s time for dinner all you have to do is serve it!  One of my go to crock pot meals is roasted chicken.  I buy whole chickens (4-5 pounds) and put them in the freezer.  On the day that we are going to have the chicken, I take it out  the freezer, remove the packaging and put the chicken into my crockpot and cook on high for 6 hours.  You can add any seasoning you like before cooking.  When it is finished it is fall off the bone good!  Another reason why I like this so much is I use the left over chicken for my lunches.

Make a commitment this week to plan a week’s worth of meals. You will find that it is so much easier and takes some of the evening stress away.  There is enough going on in the evenings, the last thing you need to worry about is dinner.  Plan you meals and you will plan to eat healthy!

Why do I need protein?

I asked my friend, Julie (aka Fittabulous) to write a guest blog.  I met Julie at the gym several years ago and we have been motivating each other since!

Julie

Julie

So one of my fitness enthusiasts friends asked me to be a guest blogger on her blog.  At first I was like oh yeah, like I really have anything to say that anyone else wants to hear?!?!  Then I was ecstatic that she would pick me to be a guest. Now the fun starts. I will try to keep it short and not ramble on and get off track.

Let me just start off by first saying that I am a fitness freak. In a nut shell, fitness is my drug of choice. The addiction is so bad that my boyfriend has to insist that I take days off.  I am also a bit of an obsessive compulsive type person. When I do something, I go all out. This past January, my boyfriend and I decided that come March 1st we would see just what our bodies were capable of. We have always worked out really hard and pushed ourselves to the limits but this time was going to be different.

Starting with our diets, if you want to call it that, I personally prefer to call it a lifestyle. I downloaded a calorie counter app and began to track all of my calories in and calories out.  My OCD took hold of this and ran with it. The competition was on, trying to beat the calories in and out everyday was so encouraging and exciting for me. Food became extremely clean as if it was competition time or close to it, (competition for the stage that is). First things first, NO alcohol. Yep that’s right, we cut it out completely!  For those of you who don’t know this, keep this in mind. Alcohol not only slows your metabolism but it also turns to sugar which goes straight to belly fat. As for my food, this is how it looked; Meal one: Protein shake with oatmeal and some additives. Meal two: Protein shake after our workout. Meal three: vegetables and a small sweet potato. Meal four: apple and a scant handful of nuts. Meal five: vegetables/salad. Meal six: protein shake.

After a month the disappointment set in. Could not even imagine why my body had made no changes!  My boyfriend was making great strides and seeing results, but not me. What was wrong with me?  So now the search was on for the problem and the cure on my, lets just say plateau.  With my app of all my food history and workouts in hand I started asking questions.  I found trainers and nutritionist that I have known for years and some not so many years, but could tell they really knew what they were doing just by the way their own physiques looked. Showed my diary to them with tears in my eyes asking for their honest opinions. When I say honest, I mean honest!  Not sure if you all noticed the one thing missing from my meals?  PROTEIN!  All the trainers and nutritionists that I spoke with told me the same thing.  My body needed more animal protein for the amount of stress that I was putting on it. Our body’s are amazing machines that are fine tuned by the fuel that we put into them. My boyfriend’s favorite quote: “Eat Clean To Remain Lean”.  Now this was going to be very difficult for me, I have been a vegetarian for almost 4 years. How in the world was I going to make this change and be able to choke down meat?!?  The competitive side of me kicked in and I began to bite the bullet. If you only knew how anxious I was at lunch and dinner and sometimes for snacks. Ever heard of chicken jerky?  Well that’s how I had to eat it for the most part. Salmon was drowned in lemon or lime with lots of spices to hide the fishy flavors whether they were there or not. One more month went by and the changes began to become noticeable. Elated!!!

After two months of extremely clean eating my sweet tooth started to emerge. What in the world will replace real ice cream, brownies, cake, cookies, fudge, candy, and the list goes on and on. Now it was time to get creative. Find extremely clean desserts with all natural sugar and protein to satisfy our sweet tooth’s.  Coming up with protein recipes has become another one of my passions. Realizing how important protein is to our body’s, I was on a mission.  Awe yes, success!

I have found some pretty amazing protein recipes that are so good they seem sinful. I am so excited to be able to share one with you all today. This is one of my most favorites and easiest of them all. Protein Ice Cream!  That’s right!  I said it, Protein Ice Cream and it is so good and so healthy for you!  Everyone I tell about this, looks at me like I am crazy!  However, when they try it, they are amazed and act as if they just won the lottery!  Seriously, it is that good and good for you!!!

 

Protein Ice Cream

Protein Ice Cream

Nutrition Info for Protein Ice Cream

Nutrition Info for Protein Ice Cream

Protein Ice Cream

  • 1 Banana
  • 1 scoop of Protein (I use chocolate but your favorite flavor will work)
  • Blend in blender until smooth and freeze.

Wallah, you have ice cream!  That’s it!  I know it is so easy but listen, do not knock it until you try it!  I have had some complain about it being to sweet.  (Yes, I know, I look at them like they are crazy!)  No problem, just add a little bit of dark chocolate cocoa powder to balance out the sweetness.  Oh my Gosh!  You are going to think you died and went to heaven.  SERIOUSLY!  The other thing that makes it better for me is to pop it in the microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds just to soften it up a touch.  It kind of has the consistency of frozen cool whip.  Sometimes instead of putting it in the freezer, I will put it in the refrigerator and wallah, you have pudding!  To mix things up on occasion, I will put a tablespoon of chia seeds in the pudding.  Makes it kind of like Protein tapioca pudding.

Please try this recipe and let us know what you think!  Hope you all enjoy!  Here’s to Fabulous Fitness and Healthy Lifestyles!!!

Stay Strong My Friends!

Julie (Fittabulous)

Website www.fittabulous.com; Instagram – fittabulous; Twitter – @fittabulous; Pinterest – fittabulous; Facebook/fit.tabulous

Do you remember?

Do you remember when you got the exercise bug?  If you haven’t had that moment, hopefully you will soon and you will never forget it. 

For me it was in March 1999 (I am going to date myself here) when I was a senior in college (Clemson University, Go Tigers!). I was in Myrtle Beach, SC and took Body Pump at Gold’s Gym. I had never really lifted weights before. After that class I hurt in places I never thought I would hurt, I seriously considered going to the doctor. That is how much I hurt!  I moved to Myrtle Beach after graduation and went to Gold’s regularly and got my desire to exercise.

Gold's Gym, Myrtle Beach, SC

Gold’s Gym, Myrtle Beach, SC

Let me give you some back ground on this gym. It is owned by Ted and Nancy Capp. Ted was Mr. South Carolina (Body Building) in 1978, what an inspiration! Nancy is a mother of 4 that works at the gym and works as a nurse and has an amazing body!  I admire their work ethic and how they run their gym. Everyone that walks into that gym no matter their size or shape are treated the same. They get to know all if their members and make you feel special.  Ted and Nancy are both trainers as well as group fitness instructors.

Ted & Nancy Capp

Ted & Nancy Capp

Fast forward to now, many years later. I am still in love with exercise and have taken it up several levels since then. I still think about those days and the impact Ted and Nancy had on me.  Hopefully you have been inspired by someone like I have.  If your time hasn’t come yet, it will and you will never forget the ones that gave you your first push!  Thanks Ted and Nancy for your inspiration!

I challenge you!

When was the last time you tried something new with your workouts? Do you always use the same cardio machines? Do the same weight routine week after week? Always take the same aerobic classes? Do you ever see something and think to yourself how much you would love to try it?

I took a deep stretch yoga class on Friday last week at the studio I go to regularly, Be Yoga in Charlotte, but it was in a different room than my normal Sunday night class. This particular day it was in the same room that aerial yoga is held. I had seen the class advertised but never thought too much about it. As I was laying there in my stretches (in deep stretch yoga you hold stretches for about 3 minutes per stretch) looking up at the silks hanging from the ceiling my curiosity started running. Of course the first thing that came to mind was I probably couldn’t do it because of my back.

Fast forward to Sunday when I arrived for my regular deep stretch class. When I was checking in I was asked which class I was there for. Turns out it was the first night they were offering beginner aerial yoga. I am always up to trying something new when it comes to fitness and this now had my full attention! I went to talk to the instructor, Josh, and told him about my back issues. He told me that I could modify (the best thing about yoga! Anybody can do it no matter your fitness level. There are so many modifications you can make and the instructors are always happy to show and help you!) so I told him I was in! The class was so much fun and didn’t bother my back!!! I did try 1 pose that didn’t feel great on my back so I immediately stopped and did it on the floor like I already knew how to do. It was a much different workout than I am used to but I loved pushing myself to new limits!

Look, no hands!

Look, no hands!

Just hanging out!

Just hanging out!

So this is my challenge to you… Try something new! Does your gym have TRX? Kettle bells? Have you taken a yoga class? Wondering about that spin class? Thinking about swimming for cardio? Do it! Stop talking yourself out of it and just go for it!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest @fitnessgirlclt

Under Pressure

So, this past weekend didn’t really go as planned…

This is what was supposed to happen… My dad, husband and I have been planning on going to the Clemson vs. UGA game since they announced our two teams would be playing.  My family is huge Clemson fans (I graduated in ’99, my dad graduated in ’69, I grew up going to the games and we had the Clemson Tiger at our wedding reception) and my husband is a big UGA fan (although he pulls for Clemson also as long as we are not playing each other!).  Our plans included letting our boys pick between wearing their Clemson or Georgia shirts Saturday with no influence from us, going to watch ESPN Game Day on campus, tailgating and my dad, husband and I going into the game to see who would get bragging rights for the year.  Out of that my husband and I tailgated and went to the game.

Clemson vs. UGA

Clemson vs. UGA

What actually happened… Wednesday I talked to my dad and he said he was having a lot of back pain and asked what he should do.  That evening my mom called and said my dad was just taken to the hospital because his back hurt so bad he could not get off the floor.  Needless to say my dad ended up being admitted to the hospital and is still there today.  He was diagnosed with an infection that attacked his spine.  Good news is the infection has cleared up.  Bad news is being in the bed has affected his mobility and he is still having back pain.  Before you think that I am a bad person, my dad encouraged us to go to the game Saturday night.  The game was actually perfect medicine for him.  He watched the whole game (the longest he had stayed awake and alert at that point) and interacted with the TV (normally it would be cheering or yelling depending on the play).

Daddy & Jack

Daddy & Jack

So when you are living a clean eating and exercise lifestyle how do you handle these valleys we all experience in life without wiping out hard work and/or reverting to bad habits?  When I was packing to go Wednesday night in addition to the normal things you take on a trip I was packing food.  I grabbed several Isagenix bars and shake packs (these are meal replacements, nothing can be more convenient!), I put some casein in a bag (my last meal of the day before bed), my blender bottle and a big bottle for water.  The good thing about the shakes and bars is I can eat them whenever I am ready.  It is inevitable when you are in a hospital situation that you are going to have to eat out.  As far as eating out, I tried to find deli’s because I knew I could get a good salad.  For dinner one night we went to a Mexican restaurant (my favorite!!) and I got chicken fajitas.  I do not get the tortillas, rice or beans with mine so I just have the chicken and veggies.  Eating Mexican requires some will power to not eat chips (happy to say I was able to resist!) but I did have a margarita!  I had breakfast from the hospital cafeteria one morning because I had stayed with my dad the night before.  I asked for a cheese omelet.  It was more like cheese with a dash of egg instead of the other way around.  It was so gross, I was literally picking egg out of all the cheese.

Cheese Omelet

Cheese “Omelet”

I am now back home and on my schedule.  I was so happy to be able to get back to my normal eating and drinking my normal amounts of water.  I have killed my workouts the past several days, nothing makes me feel better than a good workout!  The key for me staying on track while I was gone was to not give into emotional eating and stick with my shakes, bars and healthy choices when I did eat out.  I knew that since I wasn’t working out I needed to stay as close to plan as I could since I wasn’t burning extra calories.  If you find yourself in a similar situation be sure to eat (we get so wrapped in what is going on that we forget to eat) and try to make healthy choices.  There are so many unhealthy choices out there but stay strong and do the best you can!

Follow me in Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest @fitnessgirlclt

“I don’t eat that bad…”

This post is dedicated to my cousins.  I saw them at my sister’s wedding and they had lots of questions for me and this topic is one that came up.  Below is a picture of me, my sister, mom, aunt and cousins from a Christmas long ago!

Family Christmas long ago!

 

How many times have you heard someone say “I don’t eat that bad” when they are talking about trying to lose weight?  I hear it all the time and there was a time when I was saying the exact same thing.  Chances are you probably are eating that bad and you don’t realize it.  So what’s the best way to figure it out?  Start a food journal.

my food journals

my food journals

I started keeping a food journal when I first started on my clean eating journey (which is why I have 3 journals in the picture, I’m close to needing a new one!).  Wondering what I write?  I record each meal I have throughout the day (include times when starting out), serving sizes and my workout (ex: chest & biceps and 30 min cardio).  This is a great way to actually see what you are eating.  You can see if you are eating enough proteins, too many carbs, too much fruit, too little food or too much food.  You want to try and stick to a protein, carb, veggies and fruit for each meal.  An example is you may just eat cereal with milk and a glass of orange just for breakfast.  You may notice that about an hour after that you are starving and eating again.  This can be a result of not having any protein with your breakfast.  A good fix would be to change it to non-fat greek yogurt with granola (look at the box and stick to the serving size) and fruit on top.  You now have a complete meal consisting of a protein, carb and fruit.

Tracking serving sizes and the times you eat can tell a lot.  So many of us eat convenience foods and we grab a box of this or a bag of that and before we know it the whole thing is gone.  Start paying attention to serving sizes and you will be surprised at what it actually is verses what we consume.  If you are only eating 3 meals a day and not having a morning and afternoon snack you will probably consume more than you should at meal time because you are so hungry.  Adding 2 snacks in keeps your metabolism running at a regular rate and prevents bingeing.  You may find that you are constantly eating all day and realize that you need to cut it to 3 meals and 2 snacks.  Believe it or not eating too little can give the same results as eating too much.  If you are only eating twice a day your body is in starvation mode and is holding onto everything you put in.

At the end of the day all of our bodies run differently but the common denominator is we all should be eating clean, healthy, unprocessed food 5-6 times per day.  Keeping a food journal can open your eyes to your eating habits and let you see where you need to make changes.  The key is keeping yourself honest… write down everything you eat!  Even that handful of cheese snacks that you had while getting your kids snacks together!

Thanks for reading my blog!  I hope you are sharing it with your friends 🙂  Are you following me on Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest? @fitnessgirlclt