The Summit 

What a great workout and then a scenic walk to the stadium. As I sat waiting for the opening ceremony to start I was reflecting on my day so far. I am so blessed to be a part of this organization. What I’ve loved the most is that anyone can be a part of this journey. Today I met young old just beginning and pros male and female … it doesn’t matter where you are at in your journey, Beachbody has something for you on your journey toward health and happiness. It just takes a step of faith and a willingness to try. Are you ready to begin? #strongereveryday

Some of my favorite shots of my WC Cheerleaders

So another competitive cheerleading season has begun and with two competitions under our belt, this is proving to be quite an exciting season for my girls.  Here are a few of my favorites so far.

WC-Phoenix-Comets-7 WC-Phoenix-Comets-1 wc-solstice-showcase-2015-10 wc-solstice-showcase-2015-18 wc-solstice-showcase-2015-21 wc-comets-showcase-2015-3 wc-comets-showcase-2015-9 wc-comets-showcase-2015-4 wc-comets-showcase-2015-8 wc-comets-showcase-2015-11

What do I do with my Christmas tree now in January?

So Christmas is over and it is time to take down the tree and get ready to head back to school and work.  I know I know I don’t want to either, but it has to be, right?

Once the parties are over and the presents are unwrapped, the Christmas tree’s job is done. Or is it? Once you get it out of the house, that little evergreen can take on a whole new role. Don’t just toss that Christmas tree!  There are many great uses for that tree to use it around the yard now and even into the summer.

dead tree

Recycle the branches of your Christmas tree

Remove the branches and use them as a protective barrier for frost sensitive plants in your garden. Later as the needles fall off they can be used as pea brush to support your peas.

Mulch With Needles

Pine needles dry quickly and decompose slowly, making them an excellent moisture- and mold-free mulch for ground-covering crops, such as strawberries, to rest on.

Insulate Perennialspine boughs teepee

Cut off boughs and lay them over perennial beds to protect them from snow and reduce frost heaving.

Feed a Fire Pit

It’s fine to use a few of the quick-to-ignite branches to start an outdoor fire pit. But never use them in an indoor fireplace where creosote build-up is a hazard.

Hide your plants from deer

Place evergreen boughs from your old Christmas tree in tee-pee fashion around plants like azalea to protect them from deer eating them all winter.

Missing the freshness of your garden produce?

If January has found you missing the freshness of produce from your own garden you may want to try sprouting you own seeds. It is not that hard and the health benefits are amazing.

Did you know, over one-third of our diets come from seeds. The two major sources are wheat and rice. Most of a plants genetic survival is wrapped up in a seed. This makes seeds the repository of high concentration of fats, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins. But when seeds are sprouted, even more nutrients are released from the seed. The stored carbohydrates are converted to proteins and vitamins. Yes, you read that right, converted to proteins and vitamins.

There are so many delicious sprouted seeds to choose from. You can sprout the well-known alfalfa seeds or try something more exotic like fenugreek seed. Most people think of sprouts as an addition to salads or sandwiches but they can also be used in stews, casseroles, breads or cooked as a side dish like other vegetables.

sprouting-kl

There are seed sprouting kits found in health food stores, in some seed catalogs and online. But the simplest way to sprout them is with a clean mason jar with cheesecloth held over the mouth with a rubber band or open canning lid (with the centerpiece left off).  You can buy seeds at health food stores, seed catalogs, or even in your local supermarket (like lentils or chickpeas). Just be sure they have not been chemically treated with fungicides.

Place your seeds or beans in your jar and fill with at least 3x as much water. Let those soak overnight. The next morning, drain them by tipping the jar upside down and shaking it gently until as much of the water as possible has drained. This is an important step, because you don’t want your seeds to mold. I like to lay my jar on its side in between rinsing with water so they can spread out better and get some air. Keep your jar in a cool, moderately dark place with good airflow. You don’t want to keep your sprouts in a drawer or in the fridge, but you also don’t want them too close to a heat source. I keep mine in plain sight on a table where I won’t forget about them and where I can show them off. Most sprouts require 2-3 rinsing a day. You do the same thing each time: fill the jar with water, shake it around and then let it drain it really well.

Here is a list of seeds you can sprout: alfalfa, barley, broccoli, buckwheat, cress, chickpeas (also called ceci or garbanzo), fenugreek, flax, lentils, lettuce, lima bean, millet, mung bean, pinto bean, pumpkin, radish, soy bean, and sunflower.

Try some and let me know what you think!

Weekend Focus

Weekend Focus.
Going into the weekend think about your mindset. Are you looking at re-energizing by eating clean, drinking all your water, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and having quiet time. Restoration is the key to long term good health and joy.

Don’t you deserve to have it all?

 

Stressed about a healthy dinner for your family? Stress no more!

You’ve heard it. Seen it all over FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and even the news.
  

…clean eating. You know processed, fast food, and quick fixes are not good BUT you are working, driving kids to Fall sports games and practices, and overloaded with “STUFF” you gotta do.
Sound like you? It was me for a long time and my waistline showed it. Then 21 Day Fix, clean eating and Beachbody came along and changed my life.
If you are ready…

Looking to make a change….

Tired of tight clothes and drive thru food on the way to practice…
Then comment below with I’m in and try 5 days of clean eating with your crock pot!

5 Incredible Health Benefits of String Beans 

Green beans are also known as string beans and are easily available in most grocery stores at this time of the year.  They are super easy to grow too.  There are pole and bush beans and can easily be grown on a porch or a patio if a garden is not something you have space for in your yard. Did you know, although the beans inside a green bean are always green, the pods can be gold, purple, red or streaked?  My favorite are yellow.

Their nutrient content includes fibers, vitamins, minerals and very low carbohydrates. They also contain protein, calcium, dietary fiber, iron and several other essential nutrients. Green beans have impressive amount of antioxidants and even provide cardiovascular benefits. Green beans are a rich source of Omega-3 fats too.

Here are the top 5 health benefits of green beans

1. A cup of raw green beans weighing 100 grams, has 31 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber. If you are trying to maintain your current weight or lose weight, raw green beans can help fill you up without excessive calories. Because they contain seeds, they also have 1.83 grams of protein. Although green beans are sweet to the taste, they only contain 3.26 grams of natural sugars per cup, making them a safe snack for diabetics.

2. Another good reason to eat green beans is that they are packed with vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect you against cancer, heart disease and high blood cholesterol. Women who wish to delay the signs of skin aging will also benefit from vitamin A since the vitamin is known for eliminating signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, dull skin and age spots.  I don’t know about you, but I am always looking to stay young 🙂

3. Green beans are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Green beans contain beta carotene, which is found in Vitamin A. Vitamin A, a fat soluble antioxidant, helps control night blindness and other eye problems.

4. Vitamin C, in conjunction with the carotenoids, help to support the immune system and prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that, when exposed to oxygen, damage DNA. Folate may help prevent DNA damage and cellular mutation as well.

5. Green beans are very rich in dietary fiber and can help smooth bowel movement and is useful for protecting the mucous membranes of the colon by reducing the time of exposure to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Dietary fiber has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by lowering cholesterol re-absorption of bile acid binding in the colon. Green Beans fiber also helps promote colon health because it has properties to bind cancer-causing toxins, removing them from the body before they can harm the intestinal cells.

juju-shitzu-green-bean

You can enjoy string beans either raw or cooked. Add raw string beans to salads, wraps or sandwiches, or eat the beans as a snack along with a healthy dip, such as hummus. Try steaming string beans, then season with fresh mint and a lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette. The vitamin C in the lemon juice will help you absorb the beans’ iron.

Juliet prefers them fresh picked and raw!

 

The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day

3-girls-ocean
My 3 beauties

One of our favorite activities at the ocean is to play tennis with the waves. We throw a tennis ball out into the crashing waves and then race to see who can retrieve it first. You never know where the waves will take it.  The ball bounces and bobs and is tossed along until someone scoops it up and throws it again.

mandi-tennis-ocean

Seagull watching and dare I say feeding is another favorite of ours.

seagull-flyinggull-flyingseagull-fence-beach

Exploring the beach and checking out lifeguard houses and unique views

lifeguard-hut

Running and playing and of course my World Cup cheerleaders do handstands and tucks on the beach

mandi-smile molly-handstand

Collecting shells and building castles

sand-castle

All of those things are glorious, but this last picture shows what is perfection to me.  It is the end of the day, sun is setting, skin is sun kissed, crowd is gone, and all is left is us and the sounds of the waves.  The girls together, getting along and being one family.  This is peace.  This is love, my family.
This is how a good day ends as a great day!

sand-writing
Be sure to check out others ideas of a good day

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/today-was-a-good-day/

Photo of the Week – Surprise

lilyTook this photo this morning in my garden.  I am choosing it, since it was a surprise.  I didn’t plant it.  It must have been accidentally mixed in the bulbs I bought this year.
I love it and was so pleased to see it bloom.

I hope your day is full of joy and pleasant surprises.

Why Broccoleaf should be on your shopping list

broccoleaf-kl
Have you heard of it?  Brocco leaf isn’t really something new.  It is actually the leaf of the broccoli plant.  Yes, the nutrient-dense leaves of the broccoli plant that farmers have traditionally tossed aside while cultivating broccoli crowns.  The leaves you pick off and discard when you buy a head of broccoli.

It is being called the new kale.  Brocco Leaf is organic, high in the immune-boosting antioxidant vitamins A and C, and a great source of bone-building minerals compared to other leafy greens. Just two leaves contain 30% of your daily value of calcium which is 2x as much as kale along with a hefty dose of vitamin K, which is what allows your body to actually utilize this calcium.

So tonight I decided to try a recipe I saw and use it in place of a tortilla.  A lettuce wrap of sorts.  It was a big hit with the girls.  It is a very sweet leaf, think sugar snap peas sweet.

SERVES: 4

1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 scallions, chopped, white and light green parts only (fresh picked from the garden for me)
1 Tbsp julienned fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 lb lean ground pork
2 Tbsp Bragg’s liquid aminos
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes to taste
8 Brocco Leaves
Shredded carrots, for serving (fresh picked from the garden for me)
Diced cucumber, for serving (fresh picked from the garden for me)

1. HEAT oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic, and ginger. Cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add pork and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
2. STIR in Bragg’s and season to taste and cook 1 minute more.
3. SERVE pork mixture in Brocco Leaf cups garnished with carrots, cucumber, and extra scallion.

NUTRITION (per serving) 230 cal

broccoleafcups

4th of July Giving Back

coach-together
Did you know Beachbody offers coaches who are active duty service members, spouses of active duty service members not already enrolled as a Coach, honorably discharged military veterans, and spouses of military service members who were lost or killed in action the opportunity to have their enrollment fee refunded and their monthly business service fee waived for the duration of their service?

Change your attitude, your health, your finances, and so much more!  Join my team of dedicated, passionate, and caring coaches and together we will change lives starting with yours and mine!

#4thofjuly #businessopportunity #thanks #military

Skinny Rollatini…YES!

rollatiniThis decadent, cheesy Italian comfort dish is my favorite way to enjoy eggplant now that the garden is providing a bounty of eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash. Thin slices of eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini are baked, then stuffed with ricotta, parmesan and spinach and baked with my homemade marinara sauce and topped with melted mozzarella cheese.

Think restaurant quality without the frying and extra fat you’d get in a restaurant.

eggplant
First let’s start off with the eggplant.  I grow Chinese eggplant. Compared to the familiar American globe eggplant, Chinese eggplants have thinner skins, a more delicate flavor, and not as many of the seeds that tend to make eggplants bitter.   They are easy to grow and are quite compact too.  I have them in the garden and in a container on the front patio.

If you’re thinking you’re not a fan of eggplant, I know this recipe will change your mind. The eggplant is sliced so thin that it literally melts in your mouth once it’s baked. A serving is super generous, you’ll be stuffed for under 250 calories. And it’s meatless, so you can save this for meatless Mondays but honestly I can eat this every day.

I use whatever I pick from the garden that morning.  Today, I used eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash.  You can use any of them, the fresher the better.

baked-zuchini-squashand-eggplant
Best Skinny Rollatini with Spinach

Servings: 5 • Size: 2 rollatini •
Calories: 227 • Fat: 10 g • Carb: 18 g • Fiber: 5 g • Protein: 17 g • Sugar: 0 g

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium Chinese eggplants or 1 eggplant, 1 yellow squash, and 1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into 10 (1/4-inch thick) slices
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
  • 1  cup homemade marinara sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 3 handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

 After slicing, sprinkle the eggplant with sea salt to help remove excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplant. Set aside for about 5 to 10 minutes while you cut the other veggies. Then rinse with cool water and then pat dry with a towel.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Season the veggies with a little more salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil,  then arrange on two  baking sheets.  Cover with foil and bake until the veggies are tender and pliable but NOT fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes. Save the foil for later.

fresh-spinach

Rough chop the spinach and mince the garlic.  In a medium bowl, beat the egg then mix together with ricotta, Pecorino Romano, spinach, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.

Dividing the ricotta-spinach mixture (about 2 generous tablespoons each) evenly and spoon onto one end of each veggie slice, spreading to cover.  Starting at the short end, roll up slices and arrange them each seam side down in the baking dish.  Top with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and tightly cover with the foil you used before and put in the oven.  I use a glass 13 x 9-inch baking dish.  Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 45-60 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before serving.  I served mine with a side of fresh green and yellow beans from the garden.  Enjoy!

eggplant-rollatini

Mountain Laurel in the Appalachians

Pennsylvania’s official State flower is a beautiful sight even this late in June! Mountain laurel does really well in the Appalachian Mountains and can be found pretty much everywhere around me.  Saw this beauty as we crossed a small foot bridge on our hike to Indian Ladder Falls.

mountain-laurel

You know there is a persistent myth that the designation of State flower affords Mountain laurel a protected status. I remember my mother warning us not to pick them.  This is not true. No one may remove any plant from public or private land without the landowner’s or land manager’s permission. But there are no legal restrictions on the cultivation of Mountain laurel. There are many good reasons
to grow and enjoy Pennsylvania’s beautiful State flower.

Healthier take on Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

I love soup and since it was seriously cold and rainy for the past two days, I wanted to make something warm and comfortable.  So here is my healthier take on the popular Panera Lemon Chicken Orzo soup.  A healthy and fresh soup bursting with bright lemony flavors!

lemon orzo

Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, cut into rounds
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into half moons
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 large chicken breast shredded or diced into bit size pieces
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 handful chopped Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup barley
  • 2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lemon-and-Orzo-Soup-carrots
For this soup I used all fresh ingredients.  Carrots and an onion pulled from the garden, parsley cut from the garden, and even thru in a handful of beans haha.  Ok they really aren’t part of the soup but why not, they were ready.

Instructions
  1. We start simply enough with a large crock pot
  2. And dice up an onion. By the way, this nifty little dough cutter in the pictures is also used as a chop and scoop in my house. Chop up 2 carrots into half moons and 4 celery stalks.Lemon-and-Orzo-Soup-celery
  3. Add all the veggies to a small pot with 3 cloves of garlic minced on a microplaner and a small drizzle of olive oil. You want them to sweat: high heat, covered with lid, no caremalization. Let that happen for about 15 min until fragrant. Then put it all in the crock pot.
  4. Add 8 cups or 2 quarts of chicken BROTH. Notice I say broth not stock. Why? Because the broth is a much lighter and more delicate flavor. I tried this with stock and I was not as happy with the deep flavor. It would be better with homemade stock but if your only option is store bought stick to the broth.  I use low sodium.
  5. Go ahead and add the juice and zest of at least 1.5 lemons. I like mine super lemony so I added in the juice and zest of 2.Lemon-and-Orzo-Soup-lemonzest
  6. Let the soup cook on high for an hour or so.  We went to church and when we came home, I did the rest. Next, measure out ¼ a cup of barley and chop up a handful of fresh Italian parsley.
  7. Add the barley, parsley, and your cooked shredded chicken to the soup. If you are using raw chicken, you can just add it to the soup when you pour in broth.
  8. Add a cup of baby spinach about an hour before you are ready to eat.
  9. Mix well to combine.
  10. Don’t forget to taste for seasoning and lemon.
  11. Slurp away and kill those winter….errrr spring blues ,,,,,errr summer blues.