I don’t know about you, but I love it when dinner is pretty much ready when I get home! Especially in the winter when the days are short and it is already dark when I get home. This recipe pairs well with some whole grain or gluten free bread right out of the oven.
I hope you enjoy!
- 4-5 Chicken Breasts
- 1 Large Yellow Onion, Chopped
- 4 Celery Stalks, Chopped
- 1 l Large Bag of Frozen Mixed Vegetables
- 3 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1½ tsp Sea Salt
- 1 tsp.Ground Black Pepper
- 1 tsp.Thyme
- 1 tsp. Oregano
- 3½ cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock/ Broth
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
- 3-4Tbsp Cornstarch (To Thicken) * Optional
- Add the chicken, yellow onion, celery, mixed vegetables, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, and chicken broth to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Add the bay leaves, cover, and cook on Low for 7-8 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
- Remove and discard bay leaves. Remove the chicken breasts, shred, and set aside.
- Measure out 1½ to 2 cups of the liquid and contents from the slow cooker and place into a blender. I use a small individual blender. Blend until smooth and return to the slow cooker. This will thicken the soup.
- To thicken additionally, mix ½ cup of the liquid with 3-4tbsp. cornstarch and dissolve into the liquids. Returning to the slow cooker after.
- Return the cooked, shredded chicken to the slow cooker, and mix in the plain greek yogurt.
- Re-cover and cook an additional 30 minutes to reheat. Season to taste before serving.
Somehow these foods have managed to gain notoriety as ‘health foods’. Cleaver marketing may have been they reason they have been deemed as good choices when watching our waistlines. The truth is even though they’ve been given a halo, it doesn’t mean they are truely health foods. Here are a few that made my list and why.
1. Granola- We usually think granola=healthy. This is partly because it has been marketed to us, as a ‘health food’. The truth is store bought granola is usually high is sugar and fat (and not the good kinds). Think 200cals per 1/4- 1/2 cup!
2. Veggie Straws and Chips- But they have veggies in them right?! Here is where you need to take a look at the ingredient list. Usually that first ingredient is still some type of potato product- i.e. Chips.
3. 100 Calorie Packs- These little packs trick you into thinking you are doing something good by only eating 100 tasteless calories. The problem- no nutrition and who sticks to eating just one?!
4. Pretzels- Unless you buy a special whole grain brand, they are the same as eating white bread. No fiber and not many nutrients.
5. Juices and Prepackaged Smoothies- It’s made from fruit so it’s healthy right?! Fruit is always best in it’s original package. Meaning the whole fruit. The fiber helps you digest it more slowly. Drinking only the juice spikes your blood sugar more. I don’t count juices as a serving- unless it’s blended in a homemade smoothie. Another note- premade smoothies often contain lots of added sugars too.
6. Energy Bars- Take a peek at that ingredient list before buying. Often the first ingredient is some type of syrup. Which means sugar is what it contains most of. Especially brands like Cliff and others.. read those labels!
7. Sports Drinks- If you are an intense athlete exercising for more than 1hr in extreme heat, then yes by all means grab a sorts drunk. However, if you just walked 30min on the treadmill stick to good old H2O.
8. Gluten Free Processed Foods- Things have gotten a bit out of hand with the Gluten Free craze. Just because it is Gluten Free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. There are lots of processed products out there with this halo.
9. Organic Candy and Other Treats- Candy is candy. Organic or not, sweet treats usually do not have much nutritional value. So even though it’s organic, it doesn’t make it healthy.
10. Prepackaged Oatmeal Packets- While oats in general are a healthy choice, those convenient little packets are not. Typically they are loaded with sugar. You are better off buying the large container and portioning out your own and adding in real fruit and nuts.
I hope this makes you think a little more about your daily choices!
Gretchen Riddle, CHES, CHWC, NLC
I’ll admit I haven’t been exercising at the same level that was my norm before my son. Up until about 7-8 months I was jogging (or walking fast 😉) about 3x a week and using weights. Since then it’s been a bit of a struggle to find my new routine. I’m sure other moms can relate. So after over a year of getting in sporadic workouts, I finally made the decision to go back to what worked before.
When I first started working out and going to a gym I used the recumbent bike frequently to start my workout. I’d begin there, then move on to weights. I loved being able to read a magazine or book, watch tv and listen to music while riding. It was a great break from school. Which wasn’t the most intense workout, but was great for starting out.
This got me thinking recently. I have a treadmill but needed something quieter, because the only time I could work out was when my son was sleeping. A friend of mine had a bike that was compact and a reasonable price, so I thought why not check into it.
I’ve only used it a few times, but I already love how quiet it is and I can have some ‘me time’ looking at magazines again while moving a little.
So the moral of the story, sometimes it takes thinking back to what worked in the past to find something that you enjoy.
What is your favorite way to get in exercise?!
It’s human nature to go through cycles. Sometimes we are eager and motivated and others not so much. When it’s 75 degrees outside and the sun is shining down, I have a strong drive to get out and run. While on cloudy days, I’d rather sit on the couch. I think most of us can relate. The key is being in the motivated stage more often than not.
How do you make exercising a habit and get through those not-so-motivating days? Here are a few tried and true tips to help you make a habit:
Like many other things in life, it’s best to schedule it in like an appointment. Go ahead and sign-up for that race or class, and set a date with a friend to meet up and walk or run. Then actually write it on your calendar and add it to the one on your phone. Set a reminder too! Treating it like an appointment makes you less likely to skip out. Even if you just have 10 minutes on your lunch break still schedule it!
Having a plan at the beginning of the week will make you more likely to be active throughout the week. After a few weeks you’ll find what works best for you and will be likely to continue.
Keep things interesting. Don’t be afraid to try new activities with family or friends. Variety can help prevent boredom and burnout. Never tried Zumba or yoga? Sign up for a class.
Exercising first thing is a great way to make sure you get it in. Too many times we get started with the day and think ‘After I do this, I’ll go walk.’ and it keeps getting pushed off and turns into ‘I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Go walk first thing and check it off your to-do list!
Keep track of your progress. Even simply making a note of how far you walk can help. This way you can look back and see how far you’ve come from time to time. On those hard days when you aren’t motivated it can be great to look back and say ‘When I started I could only walk 15 minutes 3 times a week. Now I’m up to an hour a day!’
Keep yourself motivated to continue by planning non-food rewards. For Example: If I run three times a week for the next two months I can buy myself the new purse or watch I’ve been wanting. That item will be even more special because you earned it too.
*Don’t forget small pockets of time you have here and there that are not planned can still be great opportunities to move more. Get in the habit of having the mindset to look for ways throughout your day to walk a little farther and simply be more active.
How do you keep exercise routine?
As I write this I look back at this past year and think to myself-‘Where did the year go?’ Which usually happens after having a baby. They grow so fast in the first year if you blink twice you miss a step or a word.
But my message today isn’t about my one year old though. It’s to all the new mom’s out there.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to our pre-baby selves or super fit internet fitness models one month after birth. Know that it’s okay if our bodies change. We grew a tiny human, they are bound to.
We need to stop being so down on ourselves for not being in tip top shape right after birth. We’ve had so much happen it’s impossible. Some of us are able to begin workouts right after we are medically cleared to do so, others still don’t feel quite up for it after 6 weeks maybe more. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t up for much more than a short walk at 6 weeks. Sleep deprived and still healing, that’s all I could muster up the energy for. And you know what, I tried my best to not feel guilty about it. I knew at some point I’d get there again.- plus I was just too exhausted to care.
I’ll also say I still don’t get in the amount of exercise I’d like to. I do try to eat as well as possible because it is easier for me to control that right now. I exercise as I can. I do jumping jacks and quick workouts throughout the day to simply move more.
20 lunges (10each leg)
15 tricep dips
15 seated crunches
I’ll try and get this in a few times a day. It only takes a few minutes and at least gets my blood flowing to wake me up a bit. As I can I try to get in walks or runs, lift weights at home, do HIIT workouts or yoga.
But I’ve decided to not beat myself up if I miss a workout. Sometimes I want to spend time with my family instead. I remind myself that my son will only be this little for a short time.
I’ve also noticed that if I try and do workouts that are too intense my supply will drop, so I have to watch that. I also have trouble with TMJ disorder flare ups if I overdo it. But these topics could be different posts in themselves.
I will say I worked hard to stay active and did not completely over indulge in cravings all the time while pregnant. I do feel like I’ve made progress over the year. I’m about 6 lbs from my pregnancy weight.
All of this said, I haven’t thrown in the hat when it comes to fitness. It’s still a passion of mine in wellness. One day I will get in more regular workouts again. But I’ve accepted that right now I have other priorities. One of them being under 3ft tall.
So as you join the mama tribe and create your new life with your little one, embrace change. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Do things as you can. Step away from the tiny fitness models on Insta.
I do understand everyone is different. Some have more to lose than I did. My message isn’t to just be lazy and eat junk food. Taking care of ourselves should still be a priority. My message is just to be less harsh. Stop comparing ourselves and thinking we aren’t thin or pretty enough. We have enough to deal with due to all the hormone changes and caring for a new tiny human.
I love having these around for a quick healthier sweet snack. They can also be rolled in oats to coat the outside too.
Dates provide magnesium, iron, potassium and provide a good dose of fiber!
- ½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
- 1 cup Pitted Dates
- ½ cup Water
- 1 cup Peanuts
- ½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
- ½ cup Peanuts
- Blend ½ cup of the oats in the food processor until it becomes flour.
- Add the dates, water and 1 cup of the peanuts.
- Mix until it forms a paste.
- Add the ½ cup oats and ½ cup peanuts. Pulse to mix but not blend smooth. I prefer to have some whole pieces.
- Refrigerate about 30 minutes or longer.
- Form into balls.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I got to thinking today. Aside from seeing a post here and there, you may not get the full impression of what I stand for. Those who don’t know me well you may not know how I feel about health and wellness. And knowing this is important- especially if you are going to work with someone.
As a Wellness Coach, I’m constantly reading and learning about new health related topics. I love learning new things and being able to share them with clients. I take pride in having a good base of knowledge in multiple areas of wellness- but my main focus is in nutrition.
So what am I all about? While I’m not into making people feel like they need a trendy term to eat better, I do advocate a less processed whole food diet. I do strongly believe that we could all stand to improve the ways we eat.
Unfortunately there are too many sources for health information (and misinformation). It has made things so complicated to figure out what we should be doing. While I do think simply bringing awareness to the topic is a good thing, I believe that in some instances it makes it seem like healthy eating is unattainable for some. Some people simply don’t know where to start. They have no desire to drink wheatgrass or feel overwhelmed by most health bloggers. All the pictures of brightly colored foods look gorgeous, but they feel like it’s not practical.
I do agree we all need to eat more plants- veggies in particular. However, I don’t rely on a type of diet or claims. I believe in balance. I believe we need to step away from the packaged foods and simplify our ingredients.
All food groups should be a part of your diet. While it can be hard to change your mindset, we need to stop demonizing certain foods. Yes, there are some foods we shouldn’t eat often, but I do believe there is room in a healthy diet for chocolate. ? Maybe not all the chocolate… but some.
I’d like to see us get back to basics. Eat more foods without packages. Learn how to cook again. Make time for healthy family meals. Get away from all the quick sugary snacks and treats.
I’d love to help you make changes toward bettering your health. My goal with all the things I share is to do just that. Inspire, motivate, and give you ideas- basically anything that will help you.
As a working mommy, I’m constantly looking for tips and ideas for a busy lifestyle myself. I’ll be sharing more ideas in the future to help with this.
Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback and let me know what you are looking for. I’d love to hear from you!
Sugar. That ooey-gooey, melt in your mouth, brightly colored, creamy, dreamy goodness your sweet treats are made of. The one that gives you that high of sweet happiness as you eat it… and that low a bit after that leaves you craving more.
I just finished watching the documentary ‘The Sugar Film’and found it to be an interesting way of highlighting how the foods we eat (i.e. Sugar) impact our health. It is highlights the fact that processed foods are the base of the American diet. If you read the labels, you will more than likely find some form of sugar in the majority of these items.
I don’t think Americans are truly aware of the amount of added sugar in their foods. While the new food labels coming out soon will state how much added sugar is in a food is a step in the right direction, more change is needed. Most people don’t understand how many teaspoons equal a gram. (FYI- one teaspoon equals 4 grams.) I believe if we listed the equivalents of sugar in teaspoons on labels more people may think twice when trying to make healthier choices. This is a unit of measure Americans are more familiar with.
So many times when working with clients I realize how little people know about what is healthy. America, we’ve gotten ourselves into a mess! I hate to single out one food as a ‘bad’ food, but I do think things need to change when it comes to sugar. Our children need to be eating healthier foods and so do their parents. Yes, this means less sugar, also less processed, and fried. We’ve developed such sweet palates we think having sweets throughout the day is the norm.
The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend not eating more than 10 percent of your calories as sugar. Although, most Americans don’t know how many calories they should be eating in the first place. They don’t know where to even begin figuring out how much sugar that is.
Here’s an example to help give perspective: One 12oz can of Coca-cola has 39g of sugar. Most people know that’s quite a bit- this message is beginning to be relayed. But when I tell you that equals 9.75 teaspoons, how does that sound?
Another Example: One Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tart has 16g of sugar, which equals 4tsp. Double that though because most people eat both tarts in a pack, so you’ve got 8tsp just at breakfast. More if you drink juice or sugary coffee drinks.
Say you eat 2,000 calories in a day. That means limiting sugar to 200 of those calories. But how many calories are in a gram? Again, the typical person doesn’t know how much this is. Since there are 4 calories per gram in carbohydrates, the 12oz can of Cocoa-Cola we mentioned above would be 156 calories from sugar. So according to the USDA this person has 44 discretionary calories left this day.
So next time your shopping, I want you to think twice. Take a look at the ingredient list on some other items you may not always think of containing sugar.
Here are a few to watch for:
Reduced fat peanut butter
Fruit and vitamin waters
Those are just a few examples. There are so many more. I encourage you to be more aware, not only read the nutrition facts label but the ingredient list too. The ingredients are listed starting with what is in the item most to least. The ingredient list can tell you much more than just the facts label.
I hope this helps! What are some foods you didn’t realize had added sugars?
There is a great need to educate our youth about nutrition- especially with the direction their health is headed. I work hard to encourage others to eat well and fuel their bodies to be at their best. I primarily work with adults, but there is a need for educating families and including their children in the process is a must. (I have worked with a few families.)
Now that I have a son, I am even more concerned about his diet. As my baby gets older and I introduce new solid foods, I want him to learn how to eat well to get the nutrition he needs. There are so many mixed messages out there with marketing claims and new conflicting health studies announced daily. How can we expect our kids to learn when the adults teaching them aren’t sure how?
Before my son was born I visited various daycare facilities to find one suitable for him. As I toured, I would ask to see their menu. Most places seemed surprised (which sadly didn’t surprise me). I suppose most people were just happy their kid was being fed. On the other hand, I wanted to make sure my son actually got a nutritious meal rather than a day full of empty calories. Some facilities were so proud that their menus were ‘catered’ by local restaurants. Providing menus consisting of BBQ, pork and beans, slaw and pizza as staples on their menu. Other daycares had pizza as well along with canned chicken and dumplings, chicken nuggets and other processed foods. They at least did have some fruit and veggies available as well.
I’ll admit when I looked at other daycares I wasn’t too thrilled with their menus either. I don’t understand why we start out teaching our children they are supposed to eat ‘kid foods’. This is a stage in which we are developing their palates. They are learning what they like and want. While I don’t expect to have everything homemade (although that would be ideal), I would like to see less processed options. I can’t be the only one, right?! My concern is-Why did ‘kid foods’ become the norm? To me, processed foods like chicken nuggets, pizza, and burgers are ‘sometimes foods’, not meant to be served up every day or even every week for lunch.
Just recently I signed a paper allowing my son to be able to eat more solids at daycare (until now, I was bringing them in or he was drinking my breast milk). I realize a lot of childcare facilities are required to follow certain guidelines when it comes to meals provided and funding. I’m sure they will argue it’s easier and they don’t have time to cook other healthier foods or they don’t have a full kitchen to do so. But I also know there are healthier, less processed alternatives that can be selected.
That said, I’m asking parents to rethink your child’s meals. Start making a change. Request that our children are fed better choices. Studies show that if children eat low-sugar, nutritious diets they are able to concentrate and participate more in class. Meaning it gives them even more of an opportunity to learn and excel.
I do realize I’m not the norm. I also believe we need to start making changes at home too. Something has got to give when it comes to the health of our future generations. They can’t thrive on pizza and soda alone.
What I’d like to see- less processed like I mentioned above, less added saturated fat and sugar, and more whole grains. More fresh fruit and veggies too-less canned options. Food should be fun still, and tasty. Children should have a healthy balance between sometimes foods and everyday foods, but things need to change.
Start small, make changes today. Contact me for more information on Wellness Coaching if you aren’t sure where to begin.