Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Planning 101: Week 23

I went to the grocery store for a quick trip and came back with the healthiest things ever! Unsweetened coconut, agave nectar, white grapefruit, cuties, bananas, flax seed, coconut oil, frozen mangos, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, Greek yogurt... So good right! And then...

Those pesky Girl Scouts! Right there, right outside the grocery store! I was compelled. I had to. I promise not to eat them all this week. So far I've only eaten one of each! See? I can have self control. 


Leftover Sunny Skillet Breakfast and Fruit Salad


Ultimate Chicken Tenders, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, and Steamed Broccoli


Leftover Chicken Tenders


Broccoli Cheese Twice Baked Potatoes and Caesar Salad


Traveling (Hopefully eating with friends.)




Sunday Dinner Stew and Rice


Lunch Ideas:

leftover chicken florentine pasta + leftover roasted green beans + strawberries

free lunch! chicken pesto sandwich + apple + unhealthy chips (hey, it was free!)

salad + tuna (used a lettuce leaf "cup" to protect the salad from wilting from the tuna!) + veggies + yogurt blue cheese

more leftovers + cantaloupe

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eclair Cake

It's Sunday! I love Sundays. I love sunny Sundays. I love naps on sunny Sundays, preferably outside, preferably in a hammock. I love grocery stores on Sundays with all the people in their church clothes buying fried chicken. I love church on Sundays and the people at church on Sundays and the sense of hope at church on Sundays. I love spring sunny Sundays because there is no Sunday football. I love the intentional efforts of most people to rest on the last few moments of the weekend before work week on Sundays. Sundays are simple and cozy. I like them a lot.

In my later years of life, I've felt drawn to [theologically sound] church plant type churches, newer churches that are a bit more contemporary. I love contemporary worship music, small groups, the sense of Biblical community, and many of the things that contemporary churches do well. However in my earlier years, I grew up in a traditional small country church. Know what I miss about churches like that? Dinner on the Ground! If you didn't grow up in small country church world, Dinner on the Ground isn't actually on the ground at all. In my church, and most, it took place the fifth Sunday of every month, four in a year, one every quarter, and was usually followed by "5th Sundee Singin."

Dinner on the Ground is a church wide potluck on the church grounds, usually the fellowship hall. Everyone brings a dish and everyone eats. When I was growing up, there was always grocery store fried chicken, at least three different plates and versions of deviled eggs, gallons and gallons of sweet tea, too many casseroles to name, several pound cakes, and way too many other options to fill your styrofoam plate. This recipe reminds me of Dinner on the Ground. I never had it at Dinner on the Ground, but many offerings found on the dessert table are made in 9x13 casserole dishes. I can think of at least three my grandmother makes often to take to these church gatherings (Banana Split Cake, Chocolate Sin, Pineapple Delight). This recipe is simple, yummy, not a calorie killer, and totally Dinner on the Ground/potluck worthy! It's also made the night before, stress-free! 

For further funny explanation about the Southern tradition of Dinner on the Ground check out this post on the Stuff Southern People Like Blog. It's hilarious (and true)! 


  • 2 small packages of sugar free french vanilla pudding
  • 1 small package of sugar free cheese cake pudding
  • 3 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 12 oz (1 and 1/2 of 8 ounce packages) of fat free cool whip
  • 2 packages of graham crackers

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


Blend milk and dry pudding mix for about 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. In a 9x13 glass pan, layer graham crackers to cover the bottom of the dish. You can break them to fit into odd spaces. Pour half of the pudding/whipped topping mixture on top and smooth out. Put another complete layer of graham crackers on top. Spread the remaining pudding over the crackers. Put the final layer of graham crackers on top with the bumpy side down (to ensure the frosting goes on smoothly). 

For the frosting, microwave the butter and milk just enough so that the butter is melted into the milk, it doesn't need to boil. Add cocoa powder and powdered sugar, stir together until smooth. This frosting will be somewhere between a frosting and a glaze, not thick but not completely liquid. Pour the frosting over the top of the graham crackers and smooth out with a rubber spatula or frosting spreader. Refrigerate overnight and serve! 

The graham crackers end up having the texture of thin layers of cake! It's totally no-bake, easy, and delish! Kid and adult friendly.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Breakfast Fruit Parfaits

You know my breakfast story. Before the getting healthy journey, I was really bad at eating breakfast! I usually woke up with just enough time (sometimes not) to get ready and run out the door, always skipping breakfast. You know my speech and the speech of every person who eats healthy or TRIES to eat healthy, breakfast is important! Statistically, people who eat breakfast lose more weight and make healthier food choices for the rest of the day.

Allow me to confess though, I still haven't gotten any better at the making time to sit down and eat breakfast part. I still get up with barely just enough time to get ready. And I used the phrase "get ready" very loosely  My version of getting ready usually involves second day hair in a bun or wet hair in a bun. I've gotten a little better at showering at night since boot camp, but buns happen often. So for me, breakfast has to be quick! Unfortunately quick isn't always healthy! Quick is poptarts or things with too much sugar. The solution? Make ahead things! You know I love make ahead breakfast things! I love make ahead Breakfast Burritos. I've made make ahead egg mcmuffin sandwiches. There have been Banana Pancake Muffins. So many batches of Crustless Breakfast Quiche. And oh, the overnight oats! Over Night Oats 1. Overnight Oats 2. Making things ahead the weekend before is the way to go for me! And thus Breakfast Fruit Parfaits were inspired!

This recipe makes eight pint jar sized parfaits. They keep pretty fresh for 5 days, but I used mine even into the next week. They had a little more liquid from the fruit, but I just added in some granola and they tasted fine. The expiration dates for the yogurt and cottage cheese was much later.


  • 32 ounce container of lowfat or nonfat vanilla yogurt (can use Greek or regular)
  • 32 ounce container of fat free cottage cheese
  • fruit of choice (I used 2 cans of mandarin oranges, 2 cans of sliced peaches, 2 cans of sliced pears, and frozen raspberries, thawed. All the canned fruits were in Splenda, not syrup)
  • slivered almonds, optional
  • low fat granola, optional


I made two of each flavor. I split the raspberries evenly and used one can of fruit per each parfait. Dice peaches and pears into smaller pieces. Layer 1/4 cup of yogurt on the bottom of each mason jar. Add 1/4 cup cottage cheese, smooth down slightly. Add 1/2 - 3/4 of the fruit per parfait in. Add another 1/4 cup of cottage cheese then another 1/4 cup of yogurt. Top with remaining fruit per parfait. Refrigerate, grab, and go! Top with optional slivered almonds or low fat granola right before eating.  

Layered, healthy, filling, hearty, refreshing and yummy! I didn't get tired of these the entire eight days that I had one!

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Real Life: Celebrate Victories

I know you're all probably like, "Why do you keep talking?! Give us recipes already!" Don't worry! I have them, pictures and everything. I've just been inspired lately with random bits of unsolicited encouragement and inspiration. First leopard flats and being you, now motivational celebrating victories talk. Tomorrow? A recipe! I promise. (Don't hate me if I break that promise, I have it prepped and ready! But you know what happens sometimes when I promise.)

Five weeks ago I started a boot camp. An intense boot camp. Some of my boot camp buddies and our trainer/killer (the one guy) are in the picture above. A little history about my weight loss/getting healthy journey. I've always struggled with weight. I've been chubby since I was two. In high school I wanted to lose weight because I thought being a certain size made be beautiful, worthy, or cool. I never wanted to try just for me until two years ago. Two years ago I started Weight Watchers. Prior to those two years I was the biggest I had ever been. I was defeated in so many areas of life. A new job, a new year, a new/old state, a new beginning, and closure of two years of counseling where I learned to love myself for the first time led me to think clearly and without defeating thoughts! I decided I wanted to do Weight Watchers for me and my health, not because skinny was pretty or to find self worth, but just for me. My mom and dad had both had heart attacks since I graduated from college. My dad was having serious health issues which later lead to liver cancer and later lead to death. I wanted to be healthy! I didn't want to be a statistic of family genes and bad lifestyle choices. And for the first time, I knew I could do it. I believed in myself. The defeated thoughts were no more (okay not completely true, they come back often, but after counseling I knew how to recognize the defeating lies and combat them). In the first three months of Weight Watchers, I lost 25 pounds without working out at all, just counting points (it REALLY is a great program and I'll always be an advocate for it). When I started to plateau, I added in some working out. I was proud of myself the day I worked up to one hour on the eliptical! Especially since the first time I did it I could only do five minutes.

Yep. I took a picture and will always save it. A milestone worth remembering. Then I had toe surgery... Not allowed to wear tennis shoes for two weeks. Two WEEKS?! Two weeks is a lot when you're finally in working out [almost] everyday mode. I was introduced to water aerobics which I fell in love with and did faithfully for a while. They I started doing two classes a day! Zumba and water aerobics. And then... I got pneumonia. No working out for at least two week again. After than my dad starting get worse, life was harder, and I would work out here and there but pretty much had given up until boot camp. I had lost 43 pounds with Weight Watchers, but gained half of it back over holidays and losing my dad. I say all that to say, working out is NOT natural for me, ever, at all. I like how I feel after I do it, but I hate doing it. I hate sweating, I hate wearing work out clothes, it's NOT natural for me. It's hard and I have to work at it. After four weeks of boot camp and losing no weight (in fact, I gained!), I was getting frustrated! Yes I felt better, could tell in my clothes, had more energy, knew I was gaining muscle and getting healthier, but no weight loss was a serious motivation killer! I finally decided I wasn't going to focus on the numbers and just give it my all. Last night, for the first time in my life, I didn't finish last at something requiring physical activity! 

I was third out of six! I can't say I've ever been so proud of myself! I mean, it was AWFUL! I hated every moment, but when I got to huff and puff out the word "FINISHED" to my trainer and write down my time and not be the last one everyone was sympathetically (okay really it's encouraging, TOTALLY encouraging and the best intentions possible, but still embarrassing when you're last) cheering on at the end as they were all already finished. I felt empowered and awesome! I finally decided to weigh myself this morning after not doing so in two weeks and... I LOST 10 LBS!

Let's celebrate victories guys! Every small victory that isn't small at all. Taking the effort to work out when you haven't been doing so at all is a victory. One pound lost is a victory. Not getting out of breath when you walk up the hill to work, it's a victory! Working out three days a week when you previously worked out none, victory! Loose pants, victory. Making it three laps around the gym without have to slow to a walk which you've had to do every other time, victory! Looking in the mirror and loving who you see before you, VICTORY! Not believing the lies that Satan (it's him, it's really him) tells you about yourself, VICTORY! Getting up early to spend time with Jesus when before you "never had enough time," VICTORY! Asking for forgiveness, forgiving yourself, accepting grace that none of us deserve but get instead of living in self-condemnation, VICTORY! Choosing to grieve losses in a healthy way instead of letting yourself get numb and avoidance, victory, big, huge, not small at all, victory.

Yesterday was the three month anniversary of my dad no longer being here. I miss him all the time, a lot. I never want to stop missing him or forget him or anything about him. The thought of not missing him, not thinking about him, or not remembering him makes me want to cry more than actually missing him. I decided on the month two anniversary to set a monthly reminder. Not to dwell in sadness, but just to never forget. The reminder is simply titled, "Remember." Like I've said, and everyone says, a million times, we all grieve differently. For me, remembering is good. You know I'm on this goal kick, weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes hard, sometimes simple goals. My accountability partner helps me come up with them sometimes. For Monday, the three month anniversary, we came up with three goals. 1. Come up with five reasons I'm thankful for my dad. 2. Freak out if you need to freak out, feel what you need to feel, cry if you need to cry. 3. Bake something. Why? Well baking makes me feel good and gives me a sense of accomplishment. Feeling good and accomplished are good things to feel on potentially sad days.

So I did it! I'm thankful that he had the kindest heart of anyone I've ever known. He helped so many people get jobs and get back on their feet. He literally would have given someone the shirt off his back or boots off his feet if it would have helped them. I'm thankful for the sense of security he always provided, coming from a land of crazy family life. Even if he wasn't physically there, I knew he was there. I'm thankful for his work ethic that he [tried] to pass down to me. I could never be as hard and as dedicated of a worker as he was! But I am a hard worker and dedicated, because he taught me that was important. I'm thankful for the things he taught me about money. I'm bad at money! He knew it. But he was so good at it and some things stuck with me. I still won't apply for credit cards when people ask and my reason still is, "my dad would kill me." Lastly, I'm thankful for how he modeled forgiveness. He was one of the most forgiving people I've ever met and gave so many chances, over and over and over again.

AND I baked a Skillet Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding. What goes best with bread pudding? Caramel sauce! I haven't attempted caramel again since my three times of failing at it last summer. I've continued to make cheating caramel sauce (brown sugar, butter and cream), but even after buying the pan I didn't have and knew I needed to make successful caramel, I was still scared. I decided the "remember" day was as good of a day as any to try again. And I did it! I also decided I will make a point, almost for every "remember" day to do something that makes me proud of me, like defeating caramel! It was a good thing to feel on a sad day.

Oh, and I did cry and feel. I cried yesterday and I cried while writing this, while proof reading it, and while re-proof reading it. And it was okay. I was okay. I am okay. Crying is okay! Okay? (Could I possibly say okay any more?)

So all that rambling to say, CELEBRATE VICTORIES! Silly ones like waking up early. Making good life choices ones like choosing the salad instead of the pizza, losing one pound, not finishing last, or working out more than you did last week. Spiritual freedom ones like spending time with Jesus, conquering a sin with His help, or learning to love yourself and not be self condemning. And serious, big deal, healing ones, like remembering the loved ones you've lost, facing grief instead of numbing it, and figuring out what helps you heal and grieve in healthy ways.


Let's celebrate victories. Our own. Each others. Let's agree to this okay? It's a simple, good thing to do.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Meal Planning 101: Week 22

Can I tell you about my new cup?? I talked my brother into buying it for me for Valentines Day. It's a plastic insulated mason jar tumbler! Can I tell you how much more water I drank this weekend with my new cup in hand?! I'm seriously in love/obsessed with it. I've also gotten so many comments on it. Talk about a great accessory! It was only $10 from Target. I highly suggest you get one! Or some other drinking device to make you want to drink more water. Totally a worthy investment. 

Okay, so today starts week 5 of boot camp. So far, I haven't lost any weight! Yes, I'm stronger. Yes, I'm healthier. Yes, I have more endurance. Yes, I have muscles I didn't know I could have. Yes, I have more energy. I'm not saying I'm not happy about any of those things, I AM! I also know in the long run, it's healthier, the whole muscle burns more fat thing. But I'm determined to be totally focused this week! Sometimes total focus is accomplished best with dry erase boards. 

I have this dry erase board on the back of my kitchen door. It's also pretty close to my refrigerator. It's basic, but there is something about writing out your plan where you see it that reminds you not to get a pastry at Starbucks and to eat the real, healthy options you have for breakfast!  


Weight Watchers Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup and Cornbread


Skillet Sunny Side Breakfast and Fruit



Ultimate Chicken Tenders, Skillet Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli and Cheese




Grocery Day (Which usually means I eat a most unhealthy hot dog from Sam's Club.)

Lazy Chiles Rellenos, Tortillas and Guacamole Salad

Lunch Ideas:

Let's be honest. Despite our best intentions to bring lunch and eat healthy, some weeks are just busy! Last week I had to interview 17 people and had short lunch breaks. Therefore I ate on campus 2 of my 4 days last week. The good news is, I got these cute little Ziplock lunch containers! So perfect for bringing lunch to work. I did get to use them twice last week and going 4 for 4 this week!

leftovers: crock pot hawaiian chicken and rice + sugar pear + roasted brussel sprouts

leftovers: heart meatloaf + stolen ketchup packet from community fridge + homemade shells and cheese + roasted asparagus

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Meal Plan 101: Week 20 & 21

I have a confession... I'm a slacker! Okay that's not totally true, but I feel like one based on the lack of meals I cooked last week AND the lack of blog posts I brought to you. I didn't even manage to get out a Meal Plan Monday post! I actually didn't eat horribly last week, BUT I didn't make most of what I ate. I have to give myself a little credit since it was a ridiculously busy week full of RA interviews and night time obligations, but my blogging and meal making did fall through the cracks. In the name of being honest and transparent, I'm still posting last week's meals, every eating out night confessed. Boot camp continued on though! I missed once because I was passing a kidney stone, you know, no big deal.

Speaking of boot camp, a quick update. I'll never say it's easy, ever. It's just not. BUT I do feel better now when I do it, or rather after I do it. One problem has remained consistent... SHIN SPLINTS! Oh how I loathe them! My trainer watched my feet and how I walk and run and discovered the reason for the pain and stress on my shins was definitely my shoes. Pretty pink tennis shoes on sale = not the most supportive shoe. I decided to bite the bullet, sacrifice fashion, and go have my feet analyzed at a specialty store. I now have what I like to call my grandpa shoes. Big, bulky, grey and orange boy shoes! Today will be my first day to wear them. I have high hopes! At least I'll always have cute nails to make up for the unfashionable boy shoes.

I decided in honor of the February, the month that hosts one of my favorite holidays, I'd only paint my nails shades of pink or red until Valentines Day. It's been a fun project! I seriously love Valentines Day! I think it's silly when single people go on anti Valentines Day strikes or wear black for "Singles Awareness Day." I personally don't like to think of it as a day that's only for dates and couples. It's a holiday that uses pink, red, and hearts to celebrate! How can you not love that?! I will celebrate pink any day for any reason. I also don't think that love is just for couples! Do you love your friends and family. They deserve to feel loved on a holiday dedicated to love as well!

My meals this week reflect Valentines Day! I love themes and I love when themes can inspired food. I even ordered pink coffee at Starbucks on Saturday to assist me in my meal planning creativity! 

Last Monday:

Leftover Pasta (So the PLAN was leftover avocado alfredo pasta, but I ended up hating it. So... I ate on campus with an RA. Pimento's French Dip.)

Last Tuesday:

UnSloppy Spicy Turkey Sloppy Joes (The concept was from Six Sisters, but I used reduced fat biscuits and Pioneer Woman's sloppy joe recipe but replaced the ground beef with ground turkey.), Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Honey Glazed Carrots

Last Wednesday:

Out (One on one with an RA. She wanted to do dinner. Pimento's Ciabata Turkey sandwich.)

Last Thursday:

Out (Had RA interviews from 6:00 - 10:00 and no time to eat. Lenny's Chicken Philly.)

Last Friday:
Greek Chicken Caesar Wraps and White Cheddar Cheeze Its (More interviews! Quick thrown together meal with a fellow RD.)

Last Saturday:

Random Snacky Leftovers (Slept in, ate "breakfast" at 11:30 and "lunch" at 2:30.)

Last Sunday:

Crock Pot Hawaiian Chicken, Rice, and Roasted Brussel Sprouts




Heart Shaped Mini Meatloaf, 5 Minute Mac and Cheese, Roasted Asparagus, and Skillet Chocolate Bread Pudding (I originally planned this meal for Thursday, Valentine's Day, BUT I wanted to make it early so I could post the recipes for Valentine's Day date night inspiration!)


Lat-Webb Family Fun Night - Dinner "Out" (on campus) and Dessert Crepes


Valentine's Leftovers


Chicken Florentine Pasta and Cucumber Tomato Salad




Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup and Cornbread

Lunch Ideas:

I'm going to keep doing these. A. No one has complained yet. B. I found a couple of blogs that did this and it helped me!

jar salad +  one sliced avocado 

sick day - chicken noodle soup, crackers & gingerale (sometimes it's all you can eat!)

jar salad + half of a pita 

michelena's lean gourmet rice & beans + extra leftover kidney beans added + green giant singles corn & peas

leftovers - mostly consumed carrots + unsloppy sloppy joe + garlic mashed potatoes

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Real Life: Rules

I would like to propose that for some things in life, we stop listening to and believing the rules other people set for us, and just make our own. 

I sometimes avoid bold fashion trends until I know for sure that I, being the complete opposite of the super model type, can pull it off. Example - For at least a year I avoided buying leopard print shoes because I didn't think they were practical or if wide footed non super model types should draw that much attention to themselves. I finally bought leopard print flats over a year ago, and I've recently convinced myself they match with almost everything. 

Skinny jeans, grey Yale tshirt with navy writing, navy cardigan, and leopard flats? Sure! Pink dress and leopard flats? Yes! Hot pink stripped shirt with leopard flats? Yep. Anything pink with leopard flats? Yes.

Also, believe it or not, once upon a time I didn't think I could paint my nails because I had short nails and stubby hands. I finally decided I didn't care and now I barely go half a day without painted nails.

Don't get my wrong, some rules are important and should be followed! I'm studying Romans right now and it's so full of talk about the law, essentially rules. Some rules are good and important. I'm not saying not to follow those. I am saying that no one gets to tell you how you work.

For year and years, over and over again I tried to journal. I tried to journal like everyone said to journal. Filling pages and pages with stuff. I was inconsistent and my inconsistency lead to giving up. I happened upon a new way to journal on Pinterest using a calendar and simply filling in each day. I finished January and haven't missed a day in February so far. It's been transforming! I love doing it, but also it's helped me notice patterns. Patterns I NEEDED to notice to be able to work on.

These are surface, silly examples, but the concept is deeper. People, society, and sometimes even the church tries to generalize us all and fit us into boxes. Not living up to silly "rules" can cause us to feel defeated and discouraged.

No one gets to tell you how to be you! So what if you're almost 30 and have never bought a car, owned a house, and aren't married. Life is still beautiful! People are different. Every one of us. We're all different. I still miss my dad everyday, I'm still grieving, but I'm happy. It doesn't mean I don't miss him or I'm doing anything wrong. I've had to figure out how to grieve and survive and heal that way that's best for me, not the way that works for anyone else. I bake when I'm bored or stressed. It would be silly for me to recommend the same thing to you if you hate baking. It would likely CAUSE you stress instead of relieve your stress.

Be you! Like what you want to like! Do what you like to do. Maybe your version of being social isn't going to the movies or doing big crowd event type things. Maybe you'd rather be in book clubs or dinner clubs. Don't conform to the "rules" of what you're "supposed" to do or be as a 20 something or 30 something or a non super model type. Wear leopard flats. Paint your nails. Wear multiple shades of pink together. Heck, even wear sunglasses inside if you want (though I can't promise not to make fun of you secretly in my own mind).

Cry if you need to cry. Laugh as loud as you want to. Take baby steps if big steps are too scary. Set goals and do them! If big goals are scary, make little goals and check them off every day until you work up the courage to make a big goal and take a big step. Dream big dreams and write them down. People who dream really are happier people! And when one of your dreams starts to unfold into a realistic goal right before your eyes, only listen to the voices that affirm it!

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