Chicken Noodle Soup… made easy!

 

 

img_3709Well… the back to school sicknesses have started to hit our house. All four of us have been trading off a nasty upper respiratory bug for the past two weeks. Nothing helps make me feel better when sick than a good old fashioned chicken noodle soup. As much as I love tradition, condensed soup, or even the store bought stuff is FILLED with excess sodium and other yucky extras that I really don’t need…but who has time to spend hours in the kitchen cooking it from scratch?

That’s why I was THRILLED to find a totally delicious and idiot proof recipe in my Fixate Cookbook from Autumn Calabrese. Who’s that? The creator of the 21 Day Fix who has written her own cookbook of amazing and delicious recipes that suit both vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten free friends!

The secret to this recipe: rotisserie chicken! You don’t have to spend hours cooking a whole chicken…just buy a rotisserie chicken (or go even easier and buy a pack of pre-shredded rotisserie chicken breast) and toss it in!

For those following the 21 Day Fix or other portion-fix related nutritional plans, this one is great at only 1.5 yellow, 1 red, and 2 greens per 1.5 C serving ūüôā

So without further ado… here you go:

 

Ingredients:

2 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cups sliced celery (about 4 medium stalks)

4 cups low-sodium organic chicken broth

3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken breast, boneless, skinless

1 1/2 cups sliced carrots (about 3 medium)

1 tsp. dried oregano leaves

1/2 tsp. sea salt (I use himalayan salt)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups dry whole wheat pasta (I recommend rotini!)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Then add onions and celery. Cook until onions are becoming clear and celery is softening.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (excluding the pasta). Bring to a boil.
  3. Add pasta. Reduce heat and lightly boil for another 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.

That’s it!

Want more easy and (shhh…healthy!!!) recipes? You can check out the Fixate cookbook here. ¬†Looking for more information about the 21 Day Fix or other Beachbody programs? Drop me an email at thehappyhealthmama@gmail.com and let’s chat!

 

 

Meal Planning 101- Episode 1: Dinner Comes 1st

Want a peek at the whole meal plan? This plan is FREE for those in my LYBBC online accountability group! Hop on over to my Like Page for more info!

How many times have you come home from a long day at work, an exhausting day at school, or an epic day of toddler wrangling and looked in the pantry to realize you had no idea what to do for dinner? How many times have you simply decided to heat up that spare box of mac n’ cheese or order a pizza because it was just “easier” than trying, at 5:00 to figure out what to make?

This used to be me. ¬†When we had our first child, I barely had time to think about meals, let alone having the extra money lying around for take out 5-7 times a week. ¬†So, I made my first attempt at “meal planning”, and scoured Pinterest for some great, large batch recipes. ¬†While I did have success and found a bunch of yummy recipes, they were heavily carb based casseroles which didn’t really help me towards my goal of losing the 55lbs I had gained with Baby Bear. And so it continued from 2012-2015, with our family relying heavily on pasta, rice, and other “cheap” meals.

When I began my journey towards healthier living in April 2015 after having kiddo #2 (and having gained back the 55lbs I had lost after pregnancy #1), I had three main goals:

  1. Feed my family HEALTHY  foods that would adhere to my new lifestyle and still taste good.
  2. Keep costs low since I was beginning a 5 month, UNPAID maternity leave.
  3. Find meals that would save TIME, since any parent knows time is crucial!

As many of you know, I began my journey with the 21 Day Fix. I won’t go into too much detail here, but if you want more info or 1:1 support with the program, feel free to visit my Facebook page¬†here. ¬†The short version, is that with the 21 DF, you’re focusing on portions. ¬†Wanting to be prepared and not spend my days struggling to figure out¬†how many reds or yellows I needed/had (you use colored containers to count out your portions for the day), I decided to create a weekly meal plan. ¬†I planned out every meal, snack, and treat, so that I would a) not over buy food b) not struggle to figure out what I was going to eat and c) to make meal prep easier.

I’ll be going more in depth into my weekly meal plan in a future episode of this series, but one of the biggest things I have found is that, when I meal plan my DINNER first, it’s a lot easier to plot out the rest of the day. The main reason I like planning dinner first?¬†Carbs- If you’re like me, you live for carbs. Making sure that I plan out my dinners first(which often incorporate pasta, rice, or quinoa) allows me to ensure¬†that I have enough carb portions available, rather than accidentally using them all with breakfast or lunch!

In the past, I would plan out 1 week of dinners at a time; however, with going back to school, I decided to take on the challenge of planning out an entire MONTH of dinners. ¬†The reason why: Meal planning can be a big pain in the butt… it takes TIME, especially if you want to be creative and not have the same 4-5 meals each month. So, I decided to start planning on my month of dinners. Since then, I’ve noticed my weekly meal planning time is CUT IN HALF. Why? Because dinner is the most complicated meal. I am one who is fine keeping snacks, lunches, and breakfast the same, but I NEED dinner variation. ¬†Now that I know my dinners are set, I simply go in each week, plug in the new dinner option, and then adjust lunches or snacks appropriately depending on the portions.

Now, HOW do I go about planning for an entire month of meals? Here are my top 5 tips:

  • Plan for leftovers: I personally would rather cook less often, so we plan for leftovers to account for 2 back to back nights of dinner. ¬†Another great option is to plan for your leftovers to be your lunch the next day! Most of the recipes I select provide 6-8 servings, which is usually enough to get us two dinners and 1-2 lunch servings (including small portions for our 4 yr old and 18 month old).
  • Crockpot meals: I ADORE my Crockpot. This has been a HUGE time saver, as well as helping save on our grocery budget since most crockpot recipes don’t require many ingredients. There’s something great about coming home from work to dinner ready to serve!
  • Focus on your proteins:¬†One nice thing about focusing on the protein first, is that you can change up the meal slightly based on the side dish it is served with. For example, pulled crockpot salsa chicken can be for fajitas one night, and then topped on a salad the next!
  • Buy in bulk: We go through ground turkey, quinoa, and couscous like crazy here, so I tend to buy a big bulk bag of the starches and buy meat in bulk when on sale and freeze it. ¬†That way, when we need to get our weekly groceries, I already have those bigger priced items out of the way!

To help you get started on dinner planning, I am attaching a blank copy of my¬†custom made dinner template for September. ¬†Feel free to use this to help plan out your dinners for the remainder of the month, and leave me a comment with some of the recipes you’ll be adding!! Simply click the image below and save to your computer ūüôā

mm-sept-dinner-blank

Stay tuned for future editions of¬†this Meal Planning series including: planning week by week, planning for the 21 Day Fix, and everyone’s favorite… How to SAVE MONEY while grocery shopping for a family of 4!

 

Until next time!

What’s for dinner: Poached Salmon with Veggies

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I’m a big fan of seafood, but when it comes to actually cooking it, myself, I always shy away. I’m always worried that I may undercook it, or that it will take too long to get to that “perfect” temperature and flakey texture.

Since we already had several chicken and ground turkey meals on the menu, we decided on the poached salmon. The original recipe, itself, makes 1 servings, so we multiplied everything by 4 (note… if you plan to do this, I recommend actually COOKING individual portions… it was a LOT for one pan!). ¬†We also modified it a bit to add our own little flair!

 

Salmon with Veggies (serves 4):

Ingredients:

  • 4 2/3 lb filets of salmon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 2 carrots, sliced thin
  • 2 zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 C water
  • 1 T white wine (we used a pinot grigio)
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp ground dill or rosemary

Directions:

  • pre-season the salmon with salt and pepper
  • Heat a large pan with oil and add veggies. Cook until lightly brown and tender (about 5-8 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside (we kept ours in our microwave to stay warm!)
  • Add water, wine, lemon juice and your dill or rosemary to the pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium.
  • Add the salmon. Cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. You want the salmon to easily flake with the fork.
  • Plate out your veggies, top with salmon and add some of the juice (if desired)… enjoy!

**This recipe was modified and adapted from a recipe available in the Body Beast food guide. For more information about how to get set up with Body Beast or any of the other programs, please email me at thehappyhealthmama@gmail.com or contact me on my facebook page by clicking here**

 

When the $575 diaper cream doesn’t cut it

IMG_0629Yes, you read that right. For reasons that are still beyond my comprehension, this past spring my husband and I ended up spending $575 from our HSA on one small, tiny tube of prescription diaper rash cream. ¬†Our daughter had caught a mean yeast rash (if you haven’t seen these before and are a parent, then thank your lucky stars… they’re painful to even LOOK at!). ¬†Desitin wouldn’t cut it and neither would any of the other OTC creams we tried, so when the after hours care pediatrician wrote us a script for Vusion and said “it costs a lot, but your insurance might cover it… but just in case, here’s the recipe to make it”, we figured we would see what the pharmacist said.

“Your balance is zero. You’re covered” – Walgreens pharmacist

Great! We thought, and we went on our merry way to go try it out. Well, 3 weeks later our poor daughter was still not 100% recovered and we noticed a nice little $525 deduction from our health fund. Needless to say, when the red bumpy and scaly skin started to come back, I was NOT going to give that a second shot.

With our terrible health year, I had recently decided to give essential oils a try and I slowly had started to view them as less “voodoo magic” and more “hmmm… maybe this actually works. So, it was at this point that I frantically reached out to my Young Living guru cousin, Carolyn from Mom Goes Granola (check out her FB page here or her website here¬†for some awesome info for the slightly crunchy, yet realistic mom!) Carolyn got to work for me right away finding the perfect recipe and I quickly set off to put my Kitchen Aid ¬†Mixer to work!

Friends, let me tell you… this stuff is AMAZING. Within 24 hours, her skin was¬†significantly improved, and by 48 hours, it was as if she had not had a yeast rash at all. ¬†We’ve continued to use this as her normal diaper cream, and even the ladies at daycare have asked for the recipe and commented that they like having to do her¬†diaper changes the most because of the pleasant spa like smell of the cream!

So, without further ado, here is the miracle butt cream recipe!

Miracle Diaper Cream

1/2 C coconut oil

7 drops lavender

3 drops Frankincense

2 drops thieves

1 drop purification

Whip the coconut oil until light and fluffy. Then add in the oils and whip again. Store in an airtight container.

So there you have it! If you use this I would love to know your thoughts and how well it worked for you!

Dear Belly…

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Let’s take a second to be real… You see my before and afters. You see my my weight drop, my inches disappear, and me slowly gaining confidence to wear a bikini or shorts this summer after two kids. But what you haven’t seen is this. The up close. The stretch marks. The somewhat saggy skin that, after two children, used to be something that caused me to hide with embarrassment.
But here’s the thing, and the truth that I want ALL mamas to know… that skin, those scars… they’re nothing to hide. Those stretch marks, they’re there because I carried TWO amazing children to term, housing them, protecting their little bodies as they grew fingers, toes, and the precious eyelashes that I look at each and every day with awe and love in my eyes. That extra skin, it provides a cushion for my child to lay her head while sleepy.
But not only that, that extra skin is there because I have created big goals for myself…and met them. I have PUSHED to become healthier, stronger, and leaner. It’s a necessary “evil” of weight loss, but it’s also my trophy… my “look what you’ve accomplished” sign, every single day that I look in the mirror. And you know what…they make me…ME.
If there is ONE thing, one point that I can get across to you…it would be to stop looking in the mirror and finding hate. Instead, look in the mirror and see the miracles, the amazing beauty and purpose behind yourself. Focus on THAT, and you’ll find your confidence soar.
#postpartum #newmom #loveyourself

Hello, World!

cropped-DSC_2599.jpgHello there! Welcome to The Happy Health Mama, a website dedicated to providing readers with an authentic and REAL look into the art of surviving mommyhood, getting healthy, and most importantly, truly finding one’s HAPPY. ¬†I’m Jess… your guide through this crazy journey we call life!

In the days and weeks to come, I look forward sharing my life with you, including but not limited to:

  • #momlife struggles and successes:¬†yep, I’m not perfect. ¬†So take a peek into my crazy life as a mom navigating both toddlerhood and the¬†three-nager years.¬†
  • Recipes:¬†from kid/family friendly meals to quick, on-the-go eats, I look forward to sharing the¬†healthy recipes to keep the kids and family smiling (and mom sane!)
  • Meal Planning/Prep Tips:¬†As a busy working mom of two little ones, preparation is key to¬†keeping our family well-fed without spending hours in the kitchen (or dialing those lovely little take-out numbers….). ¬†Stay tuned for some of my best tips and tricks to help you create a healthier lifestyle for yourself and your loved ones while saving time (and money!).¬†
  • REAL life fitness:¬†I get it… sometimes you just DON’T have the time to work out. I’m here to share some of my favorite ways to get active without spending hours at the gym!¬†

…and much more!

 

So tell me, what would YOU like to see featured at The Happy Health Mama? Share your ideas in the comments below! And don’t forget to stop by and check out our Facebook page here.

 

Cheers!