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Chicken & Zucchini Noodle Caprese

This is for all of those Italian food lovers out there who want the delicious taste, but don’t want all those calories! This is how: Spiralizing. It is the way of the future. You get to have your same favorite meals, they are now just healthier and full of more nutrients! This Chicken Zucchini Noodle Caprese is one for the books.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3/4 lb grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 oz fresh mini mozzarella balls, cut in half

 

Directions:

  1. Start by spriralizing the zucchini using blade D if you have the Inspiralizer, or the thickest noodle blade your spiralizer has.
  2. Season the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and oregano. In a large non-stick pan set over med-high heat, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chicken and cook, stirring until browned and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, add the remaining oil and garlic and cook until golden, 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, and crushed red pepper flakes, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the tomatoes soften, 15 minutes.
  4. Increase heat to high, stir in the zucchini and basil, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken back to the skillet along with the mozzarella and serve right away.

 

Love, Melissa

 

 

 

 

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4 Tips to Stay Healthy on Vaca!

Summer is officially here, which is so exciting because that means vacations are coming up! I am headed to Florida soon with my family to enjoy some relaxation by the beach. Now, the only downside to vacations is the temptation to nix my healthy lifestyle. I mean most people are probably going out to eat every day, maybe even for every meal, so it can get hard.

 

Here are some things I try to do to stay on track!

  1. Bring Your Own food: If you are road tripping somewhere, this is definitely doable, but if you are flying, it’s probably not the best option. If so, check out tip #2! For those who are driving, bring SNACKS! Bring plenty of fruit, and not just apples and bananas. Get creative and cut up watermelon or cantaloupe before you leave. Bring a giant container ready to share! Once your kids see these scrumptious treats, they will try to take all of your food…So bring extra!
  2. Order Off the Menu: Here is where I tend to fail the most. Trust me, I know the struggle! You see all of those savory dishes just staring you down saying ORDER ME! You have to stay strong. Always ask the waiter if you can make your own dish – Order something OFF the menu. The worst they can say is no, we can’t do that. So try! For example, at an Italian restaurant, ask for steamed veggies and marinara sauce to put on top! This is a great way to get that Italian taste, just without the carbs!
  3. Workout Before Everyone Wakes Up: I try to do this no matter where I am vacationing. Say your whole family wakes up around 9:00 a.m. on vacation. Wake up at 8:00 a.m., get in a workout, then meet back up with the fam when they wake up! This way you are missing NO family time. The best of both worlds!
  4. Plan Active Activities: Instead of planning excursions or activities where you are sitting most of the time, kill two birds with one stone, and plan an active one! For example, instead of tubing down an exotic river, snorkel down one. Instead of driving, bike to the town. There are so many options: kayak, hike, dance, horse-back ride or simply walk! Forget the hotel gym, plan some active activities!

 

Love, Melissa 

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Top 5 Hydrating Foods

Here in the Texas heat, it is so important for my family to stay hydrated! My boys love to swim and go to watermarks. Plus my 16-year-old plays baseball each weekend in this crazy Texas Summer heat. So I am always trying to keep them and myself pumped full of water.

However, they get sick of hearing me say “DRINK MORE WATER” so I have gotten creative in keeping them hydrated by providing snacks and foods that have lots of water in them.  Not a huge water drinker? Do your taste buds just go ICK! Good news for you because you can stay hydrated without drinking water. Just double up on some of your favorite fruits and veggies that are made of primarily water.

 

Check out some of the options below:

 

Watermelon – Now, the name kind of gives it away! But did you know watermelon is made up of 92% water? And it is also made of calcium, salt and magnesium which are also great for getting rehydrating.

Strawberry – These little berries are also made of 92% water, which is the most of any berry. They are full of fiber and vitamin C as well, so top off your yogurt with some strawberries or sprinkle some sugar or agave nectar on them to make yourself a fresh and sweet dessert!

Celery – These stalks of fiber might not be your favorite veggies (they aren’t mine either), but they are pretty helpful. I mean, very few foods help you LOSE calories by just eating them! Celery is made of 95% water and is rich in vitamin K and potassium. So put this one in stir-fry if you aren’t a huge fan of it plain Jane.

Cucumber – From relaxation to a tasty treat, cucumbers come in first place. This veggie is composed of 96% water. With no saturated fat or cholesterol and a plentiful amount of vitamin K and iron, cucumbers are the perfect hydration vegetable.

Lettuce – Lastly, just order yourself a salad! Lettuce is made of 96% water, but it lacks in the nutrition department. So use lettuce to get hydrated!

 

Love, Melissa

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Is Dairy Milk Bad for Everyone?

I’ve grown up drinking dairy milk my whole life. It was just the norm! But now, I keep hearing dairy milk is bad for you. So I went to investigate the truth, and this is what I found!

“Dairy is nature’s perfect food — but only if you’re a calf.” – Mark Hyman, MD

I mean when you think about it, I don’t really want to drink milk from my cat, so why do I drink it from a cow?

It was only when the agricultural revolution came around that adults started drinking milk, especially from a different species. So when you think about this fact from an evolutionary perspective, consuming dairy is NOT a necessary part of our diet. The USDA food pyramid suggests drinking 3 glasses of milk a day. Hmmm...Let’s look at some of the “experts” that made that pyramid. What do you know, some of them work for the dairy industry. So that’s a little suspicious, don’t you think?

Did you know about 3/4th of the world is lactose intolerant? Didn’t know it was that common did you? Neither did I! Lactose is a “milk sugar” found in dairy that is made of glucose and galactose. When we are babies, we have a digestive enzyme called lactase that helps us break down lactose, but when we become adults, many people don’t have that ability anymore.

It is also proven that dairy is linked to breaking out! The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology did a study in 2010 and found an association between dairy consumption and acne.

So from my research, I have concluded that dairy is not going to kill you, but it’s probably not the best for you. Try drinking almond or soy milk instead to see if you can switch over! They are sweeter, so your kids might actually like them better. For me, I had to start mixing soy milk with dairy milk before I could just drink soy milk. Best of luck!

 

Love, Melissa

 

Sources: Authority NutritionDr. HymanHuffington Post

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Out of Your Comfort Zone

Ever done anything so far out of your comfort zone that you weren’t sure if you could do it?! Well I just had one of those moments. I went to Mansa, Zambia, Africa to visit my sister.

It was one of those trips I knew wouldn’t happen very often. She is a missionary over there, and she runs an orphanage. When I first arrived, we did a few touristy things before driving 10 hours to where she lives, which is in a village. What was NOT super out of my comfort zone was traveling alone over 30 hours to a foreign country or arriving in a country where I didn’t speak their language. None of those…it was petting a lion!!! Yes, a REAL LIFE LION!!! It was surreal and exhilarating!!

Then it was time for the next part of my journey…seeing the beautiful children in the orphanage. They filled my heart with love and joy more than I could imagine. These children were so sweet and well mannered. I GREATLY enjoyed bringing the kids gifts from their American sponsor families. The surprise and glee on their faces when they knew someone in America was praying for them daily and sent small gifts for them was just priceless. Each time we presented the sweet letters and gifts, I would get tears of joy as I watched them gratefully accept their gifts. 

If you have a heart for helping children who are orphaned and would love to connect with one, there are still 18 children who do not have sponsors!

I would love to connect you with one of them. The cost is only $25 a month, and the commitment is for one year. This $25 provides the child with a school uniform, the opportunity to go to school (break the chain of poverty), meals, and medical care.

I have seen these kids first hand. They need our love, prayers and financial help!

 

Love, Melissa

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Dairy Free Fruit Dip

Fruit dip is such a popular Summer snack to bring to parties! But most store-bought brands are just packed full of sugar and dairy products. So good thing there are some great alternatives! This recipe is made with coconut milk, lemon and vanilla. Now you can bring a snack that is FULLY healthy instead of masked as healthy.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk*
  • 3 tbsp. powdered sugar**
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Optional: fresh fruit for dipping (strawberries, blackberries, apple slices, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for a minimum of 4 hours. Open the can. The coconut cream will have hardened at the top of the can and the liquid will be at the bottom. Use a spoon to scoop ½ cup of the hardened coconut cream off the top of the can. Try not to get any of the liquid from the bottom of the can.
  2. Add the cold coconut cream to a large bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat the coconut cream until fluffy (about 3-4 minutes).
  3. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix until well combined (about 1 minute).
  4. Spoon into a serving bowl and serve immediately with fresh fruit.
  5. Store covered in the refrigerator. Once refrigerated, the dip will harden a little and may need to be re-whipped before serving.

NOTES:

*This is the canned coconut milk that you would find in the Asian section of your grocery store, not the boxes or jugs that you would find near the almond milk and soy milk.
**Many companies produce vegan powdered sugar, please read labels and visit manufacturer websites to be sure.

Recipe from: THE WHOLESOME DISH

 

Love, Melissa 

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The Secret Behind Spices & Herbs

Sometimes getting in the kitchen can be intimidating, am I right? If you aren't following a recipe, and just wanting to make a quick dinner, you kind of need to know what spices and herbs go well with what type of meal. I mean you definitely don't want to combine cayenne pepper with cinnamon, but all of the spices aren't that easy to tell apart.

So check out this infographic below from Cook Smarts that gives you guidelines on what spices and herbs to use with which veggies and meats and which ones they pair well with. This is one of those lists you will want to take a picture of or maybe event print out for the kitchen! It will definitely be used. 

Love, Melissa

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Homemade Energy Bars!

Energy bars are one of those quick, go-to snacks that you can grab at any grocery store or vending machine, but a lot of them aren’t as healthy as their fancy packaging might lead you to believe. They can contain a lot of processed sugars, salt, and artificial ingredients and have as much fat as a candy bar!

Want to try your hand at making your own, super healthy energy bars? In just a few minutes, you can create a healthy, customizable snack to help you eat right when you’re on the go. All you need are a few ingredients and a food processor.

These homemade energy bars are made with your choice of nuts and dried fruits, plus they have two scoops of Shakeology for a boost of nutrition and filling protein. They come in at under 150 calories a piece, and they can really fill you up! It’s a perfect snack to refuel after a workout, knock out a sugar craving, or to hold you over until dinner. For dessert, I like to nibble on energy bars made with Chocolate Shakeology and dried cherries.

Dates (or prunes) bring natural sweetness to our Homemade Shakeology Energy Bars, and they act as the binder. Look for whole, large Medjool dates in the produce section of your grocery store. These usually contain pits, so make sure to remove them before adding them to your food processor. Some homemade energy bar recipes suggest soaking the dates to soften before adding them to the food processor, but we found that step unnecessary and it made the bars too sticky. Enjoy!

 

Love, Melissa

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Slow Cooker Corn on the Cob

Cooking corn on the cob just got a whole lot easier because you can make it in the infamous Crock-Pot! And the best part is, there are so many different flavors you can use depending on the meat you are eating it with. Check out the details below:

Ingredients: 

  • Aluminum foil
  • Slow cooker
  • Corn on the cob
  • Olive oil
  • Salt (I prefer sea salt)
  • Pepper (Fresh ground pepper is best)
  • Seasoning for the flavor you want (Options listed below)

 

Instructions:

  1. Cut some aluminum foil in a square, place one ear of corn in the middle. Brush it with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  2.  *** Add whatever additional seasonings you want. I have some suggestions below!
  3. Fold the aluminum foil around the corn and pinch the ends together.
  4. Place the corn in the slow cooker with the seam side up. If you have 4-6 ears, leave them in the slow cooker for 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low. Adjust the time for how full your slower cooker is. 

 

Flavor Suggestions:

  • Chili Lime: Chili powder, lime juice and a little ground cumin.
  • Curry Coconut: Brush the corn ears with coconut milk (not oilive oil), sprinkle some curry powder and a little garlic powder. Finish off with salt and pepper.
  • Sriracha: Only for those who LOVE spicy! All you have to do is add as much Sriracha as you want. Go light at first though!
  • Your Own: Go crazy with your own combination! You can even make 4 ears of corn, all with different flavors. 

 

Love, Melissa 

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Sunscreen vs. No Sunscreen

Summer is coming up, which means more time in the sun! And while being outside is a mood lifter and super fun, our skin can get destroyed by those sun rays. Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, so we really do need to take care of it. 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, which is why using sunscreen is a must!

 

So here are some tips:

1.    Use sunscreen that is water resistant! This doesn’t mean it will never come off, it just means it is effective for up to 40 minutes in water. Sunscreen manufacturers can no longer claim their product is “waterproof” or “sweat proof” because those terms aren’t really accurate. You still need to reapply after that set amount of time.

2.    Use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher. So plenty of you have probably heard the debate on if high SPF sunscreen is really any better. This is what I have learned. SPF 30 sunscreen blocks up to 97% of the sun’s rays. The higher SPF sunscreens may block a little more, but there are NO sunscreens that block 100% of the sun’s rays. The American Academy of Dermatology says, “Currently, there is not any scientific evidence that indicates using a sunscreen with an SPF higher than 50 can protect you better than a sunscreen with an SPF of 50.”

 

I hope you learn some helpful tips, and use this infographic below for more details!

 

Love, Melissa 

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