Healthy Eating Series: Breakfasts

Hello there blog followers, today I want to talk about eating healthy. Don’t roll your eyes yet! Healthy eating can make you feel so much better, have more energy, help you lose weight and build muscle naturally. I thought about doing a whole day of meals in one post, but I wanted to break nutrition down to the basics and give you a lot of different options for breakfasts before we move on to other recipes and ideas. After all, it is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy breakfast can help motivate you to make good food choices for the rest of the day. Here’s my list of typical breakfasts I eat throughout the week

Breakfasts

Yogurt with fruit and granola – my first tip for this one is to use full fat yogurt. It sounds backwards, but I sincerely believe that a food in it’s natural state is the best way to eat it. Low fat foods can have a lot of preservatives and high sugar content. Plus, fat is good! Healthy fats help prevent artery disease and some recent studies have shown that fats aid in weight loss.

Eggs with veggies and cheese – Eggs have gotten quite a bad rap in the past few years. Lots of people have switched over to egg whites because they’ve heard that yolks are bad for your health. Unless your doctor has recommended that you give up egg yolks (like if you have high cholesterol), in moderation, they are good for you. Egg yolks have practically all the nutrition of an egg. With veggies and a small amount of full fat cheese (see note above!), this is a great healthy breakfast choice.

Oatmeal with bananas and nuts – Oatmeal has lots of fiber which is so important to lose weight. It’s great for reducing bloating as well so it’s an ideal breakfast to have after a day of unhealthy eating. Bananas give the oatmeal some natural sweetness. Throw in some walnuts for healthy fat.

Cereal (or granola) with milk – Granola. It can be so healthy, or so bad for you. A lot of commercial granolas have so much sugar! So make sure you check labels carefully or make your own using small amounts of natural sugars. This goes for cereals as well (I’ve really been into Purely Elizabeth’s Blueberry Hemp cereal lately if you guys want a recommendation). Now, this breakfast has a lot of the same health benefits as oatmeal but the milk is a good boost of protein and fat.

Smoothies – Smoothies can be tricky. Fruit is basically just carbs and sugar, albeit natural. However, if you add some veggies(like spinach)* or some protein powder it can give it a new dimension. Adding small amounts of ingredients like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or ginger that boost metabolism are also great options.

*Tip: If you are going to use a vegetable such as spinach, make sure to drink your smoothie right away. If you let it sit you will be able to taste the spinach as it becomes much stronger after a while.

One thing I want to stress before signing off. Don’t consider unhealthy meals “bad”. They’re are just less healthy than other choices. Everything in moderation. One unhealthy meal won’t kill you, just like one healthy meal won’t solve all your problems. If a piece of chocolate every once in a while puts you in a more peaceful state of mind, then indulge. Just don’t let it turn into a whole bar. I hope this helps you guys out, and as always if you have questions feel free to comment. We’re all in this together!

The Navy Wife xoxo

 

 

 

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The Best Ab Work Out

I just started a new work out plan this morning to start building some more muscle. Thumbs up for more girl muscle power! Unfortunately, figuring out the gym can sometimes be difficult. What moves work best, how many reps, how to even do the exercise in the first place? That’s why I wanted to put together a little work out of my favorite ab moves for you guys to try.

Do 20-30 of these moves 3 times in a row (a rep)

Leg Lifts: To do leg lifts, lie flat on your back. Put your feet together and slowly lift your them into the air until they’re at a perpendicular to your body. Hold for a moment, and lower them back to the floor.

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Bicycles: Lie on your back, put your hands on the back of your head, and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle. Bring alternate knees back toward your chest (like you’re riding a bike) and twist your abdomen so that your elbow touches the opposite leg.

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V Hold: Lift your legs and your torso up to form a V with your body. You can reach your arms out in front of your or put them on the floor behind you for some support, but make sure you are using your abs to keep your body up. Hold this position for as long as you can. Abdominal and calf muscles are harder to grow than the rest of the muscles in your body so they need to be completely fatigued in order to make strides. That’s why positions like these are important.

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Side Leg Lifts: Lie down on your side, keeping your feet together, lift your legs up into the air and slowly lower then back down to the floor. If this hurts your hips, you can use a work out bench which will give you a wider range of motion up and down and give you a little more cushioning. This engages your oblique abdominals to bring your waist in at the middle, keeping your waist from being square.

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Bent Leg Jackknifes: Grab a weight! A 5 or 10 pound one is good to try out. Lie on your back and stretch your arms above your head, holding the weight with both hands. Lift your legs slightly above the ground. Simultaneously bend your legs toward your body and move your arms up until they are over your knees. Continue that position 20-30 times. If this exercise is too difficult for you, ditch the weight and just use the weight of your arms.

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Starting position

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Final position

There you have it! An intense ab work out sure to get your muscles in shape. Remember though, there is no work out to target fat loss in a certain area of the body, only to build muscle. If you’re looking to lose weight in your waist I recommend high intensity cardio! Thanks for reading!

The Navy Wife xoxo

i.e. I am not a certified personal trainer, this is just my personal opinion of what has worked best for me. As always, if you have abnormal pain while exercising you should contact a doctor.

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Bread

Hey guys! Happy Hump Day. I hope that you are geared up to get through the rest of this work week. I unfortunately came home earlier today to find that my puppy chewed a lovely hole in my flooring. So yay for that. I called the maintenance team here with no answer. Oh my… I’ll keep you guys updated on the status of this disaster.

Meanwhile I needed something to bake to get me in a good mindset again. So I made this sweet potato bread that I’ve been meaning to try. This is the original recipe. In my quest to cut more sugar out of my diet though (and eat healthier all around), I decide to alter it a little bit to my own liking. Side note, did you know guys know that The American Heart Association only recommends consuming 24 grams of sugar a day for women? Although most Americans consume 120 grams on average! Just my little health plug for today.

To adjust this recipe I first took out all processed sugars and added natural ones like dates and real maple syrup. Then I took out all the white flour and added whole wheat. I also cut the size of the recipe down, because even natural sugar is still sugar and I didn’t want a lot of sweets lying around. Added some pecans for a little texture and healthy fats, and just like that you have a healthier alternative to this delicious recipe!

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Bread

1 medium sweet potato, cubed and cooked
2 teaspoons of water from your dates (I’ll explain)
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons of yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of dried dates (about 6 pieces)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch salt, optional
1/4 cup of chopped pecans

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8×4 loaf pan.
  2. Fill a cup of hot water and put your dates in it to soften them. Leave them in for about 5 minutes.
  3. Put your cooked sweet potatoes, your oil, and your softened dates, and 2 teaspoons of the water from soaking your dates into a food processor. If you forget to use the water from your dates or your cat knocked over the cup or something, no big deal. I just used it because I like not to waste and I can get more of that date sweetness in there. Process that up until it’s nice and smooth. You may still have some small pieces of dates. No worries. They’re cool.
  4. Put your sweet potato/date mixture into your mixing bowl, and make sure it has cooled down so that your eggs don’t cook when you add them (hint hint as to what the next step will be).
  5. Add your eggs to the mix! Mix at a medium speed and scrape the sides down until the eggs are fully incorporated.
  6. In a separate bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, and spices. Add this dry mix to the egg/sweet potato in the bowl and mix to incorporate.
  7. Finally, once your batter is fully blended add your pecans in and give it one more stir. You can add more or less pecans based on however your feeling that day about it.
  8. Pour batter into your already greased loaf pan and place in the oven
  9. Bake bread for about 15 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and there’s no sign of batter.
  10. Eat with a little butter or all on it’s own. You could even spread cream cheese over it or a little frosting if you weren’t concerned about sugar and wanted to make it more like a cake. Enjoy!

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Blue Cow approves of this. See you guys next time!

The Navy Wife xoxo

Fried Gnocchi with a Marsala Wine Sauce

Happy MLK day everyone! It’s a cold day here in North Carolina. I just can’t seem to figure out the weather here. It has a mind of it’s own. During the cold, wintery months I love to cook up warm pasta dishes for Luke and myself. This meal brings to the table (literally) a little bit of my heritage. My grandmother is full blooded Italian, therefore the culture of Italy has always interested me. I learned how to make gnocchi about a year ago and it’s been a favorite of mine since. This recipe combines fresh gnocchi with marsala wine, parmesan, and garlic for flavors that are perfetto!

P.S. I apologize for the blurry pictures. I started this post about a month ago or I would go back and take better photos for you all!

Fried Gnocchi in Marsala Wine Sauce:

Serves 2 large portions.

Ingredients:

  • Gnocchi (1 package or your own personal homemade batch, whichever you prefer)
  • 4 Tablespoons of Butter, separated
  • 8 oz of Mushrooms (white or cremini will do)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup Marsala Wine
  • 1 teaspoon of Basil
  • 1 teaspoon of Parsley
  • 1/2 a cup of Chicken Stock
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • Green Onions (optional)
  • Fresh Parmesan (as much as you wish to grate on top)

First, take your gnocchi and cook it according to the package or as your gnocchi recipe calls for. Usually this is just a few minutes in a pot of boiling water until the gnocchi float to the top.

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Prep your work station by measuring out your wine and stock and chopping up your onions, garlic, and and mushrooms. Chop the mushrooms into thin slices. In case some of you cooks are interested, a fancy cooking term for getting all of your ingredients together like this is called mise en place. Fun fact of the day!

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Next heat a pan and add 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is melted and sizzling add the cooked gnocchi to the pan. Gently shift the gnocchi around the pan until there is a nice golden crust on either side. Then set the gnocchi aside.

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To make our sauce, take another pan and on medium heat add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add to the butter your mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Stir and allow to cook until the mushrooms have softened and the onions are translucent. At this time, add to the onion/mushroom mix the rest of the ingredients except for those green onions and the parmesan. Allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for 3 to 4 minutes.

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Remove the sauce from the heat, plate your gnocchi, and pour the sauce over it. Voila! Top with slivers of green onion and parmesan as desired, and serve.

Thanks for stopping by today! If you guys make this, please let me know what your think. Until next time,

The Navy Wife xoxo

 

Cracking the “Organic” Code

Hey Everyone! First, I want to say thanks to everyone who completed the survey I put out there on Wednesday. Your feedback really helps me to blog on more specific topics that you guys are interested in. If you haven’t taken the survey yet, there is still time! Just click here to share your thoughts. A surprising number of you answered that you were interested in health and fitness, so definitely more of that to come. In the mean time, I think you could probably file this under health, organic foods! Some people swear by them, some people curse them, some people still don’t have any idea what organic really means. If you fall under that category, follow me. It’s going to be an opinionated ride.

Organic foods have been around for a fairly long time but in past few years they’ve really gotten their time in the limelight. Celebrities and health nuts everywhere swear by organic food as the only choice if you want to take care of yourself and your family properly. Now I like to do my research before making an investment, and that’s what food is! It’s an investment into your health and future. So let’s get the facts first.

The Organic Haters:

For the sake of time, I’m going to stick strictly to the health benefits of choosing or not choosing organics. We could discuss forever the effect pesticides have on the environment and the treatment of animals but that’s a discussion for another time. Today we’ll just be looking at health. Most people who disagree with buying organic say it’s really no healthier for you than foods grown with conventional methods. They are somewhat right. Here are some facts:

  • A recent study found that organic foods are no more nutritional than organic foods. In the same study, they found that people who eat only organic foods were no healthier than those who ate food grown conventionally.
  • Second, although people most associate organic foods as being grown without chemicals, this is also untrue. There is relatively small, but still existent list of chemicals and substances that are permitted in organic farming.
  • Third, farmers who report sales of less than $5,000 a year can claim their foods as organic with no certification or verification necessary.

The Organic Lovers:

Unsurprisingly, most of the articles I found about why organic foods were nutritionally better had no scientific evidence to back it up. That’s not to say definitely that they are not better, but organic food is a trend. People tend to believe what everyone is saying, even if there may be no evidence. Organic foods being better for you may not completely be a lie though. Fact check time!

  • An unbiased article from Web MD wrote about how researchers found that organic produce had 30% less pesticide residue than foods grown conventionally. Although they do contain less pesticides, the FDA monitors pesticide levels of all produce so it is very unlike that both organic or non-organic foods would go beyond the limits of what is safe to consume.
  • The same article found that organic meat does in fact contain less bacteria resistant to antibiotics. This may be enough to convince some people to switch but consumers should know that most antibiotic resistant infections in people come from a misuse of antibiotics, an error on the part of the consumer not the food.
  • To make matters more confusing, a British study found opposite results to the former nutritional study. Their research revealed that organic fruits and vegetables contained 12% more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts.
  • Another point on the organic lover’s side, foods grown by non-organic methods by the FDA are permitted to come in contact with a fairly lengthy list of synthetic chemicals and even sewage sludge as long as they still fall under the FDA’s limit for pesticide safety.
  • Finally, some people swear by organic foods simply tasting better.

All in all, it is the choice of each individual consumer to decide what is best for their family, their health, and their budget. If consumers eat more fresh produce and home cooked meals and less processed packaged fast food, I call that a win regardless of wether or not it’s organic. Thanks for stopping by! Until next time,

The Navy Wife xoxo

Where I got my info:

  1. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/20120904/organic-foods-not-necessarily-better?page=1
  2. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/08/the-low-down-on-organic-foods/#.VpejdMArLR0
  3. http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Permitted_Chemicals_List_for_Organic_Farming
  4. http://www.earthfuture.com/earth/Organic%20-%2010%20Reasons.pdf

Discovering Cities: Richmond

Hey ya’ll! I can say that now because I officially live in the south. Not the pseudo south (i.e. Virginia) where all the locals want to call themselves southern, but really aren’t. Now I’m deep into southern North Carolina and I’m loving it. These warm temps just don’t quit. Sunshine and 60’s in the middle of January? I’ll take it! While Luke is in Fleet Marine Force training at Camp Johnson, I’ve been exploring all the local treasures. More on those great places to come! Right now I wanted to touch on a sweet little town I visited with my family recently that I just loved, Carytown, Richmond, Virginia. First on our agenda this trip was to get some food to fuel up. What better way to fill up than on doughnuts? Guy you have to check out Sugar Shack on N Lombardy St. They have a couple different locations, but this is the original and the one we visited that day. They have so many different amazing flavors so we got a whole dozen. Gotta try as many as possible, right? I had the cinnamon roll doughnut the size of my hand. I highly recommend it. As my sister Sadie is modeling, they are thoroughly enjoyed by all ages. IMG_0609

After we quickly devoured all the doughnuts we decided to do a little shopping. There’s plenty of cute stores to buy all different types of things. By far my favorite that we came across though was Creme de la Creme. I’m huge into french country decor right now, and that is what this store is all about. They have fresh made soap and lotions, beautiful dishes, linens, and quaint games and books for kids. Plus all of their Christmas stuff was on clearance. Steal! Although they are a tad on the pricier side, I’d still recommend giving it a go. Especially if you want a neat little souvenir from Carytown to take home with you. They are located on W Cary Street if you plan to take a visit.

Finally we made it to the last leg of our trip, The American Civil War Museum. Unfortunately the museum was just about to close so only had a moment to look through the first part of the museum but it was definitely worth it. If history fascinates you, this is the place to be. I could have spent hours in there reading and browsing all the artifacts. Right outside the museum is a bridge called High Bridge. When Richmond was being invaded by Union soldiers, the Confederates in Carytown had to flee and they crossed High Bridge to do so. Although there is only remains of the original bridge, there is a replica with a timeline and testimonies from people who fled from that area during the time of the civil war. Below is an example of one of the quotes.

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I hope you guys choose to visit Carytown if you get the chance. Please leave comments below about what more you guys would like to see and feed back on what you thought of my recommendation should you choose to visit. More cities to come! Thanks guys,

The Navy Wife xoxo