How to Eat Healthy All Week (even if you are really, really, really busy):

Thank you to everyone who noticed my ability to combine healthy eating with a hectic lifestyle – this blog is for you!

Many of my friends and family have requested that I do a blog with some of my tips for a week’s worth of hassle-free healthy eating.  First, my disclaimers: this is going to seem like a lot of work at first.  I know it is Spring now and almost summer and the last thing you want to do is spend 3 hours on a weekend making food but you will be SO glad you did when you look awesome in your tank tops, bikinis, short shorts, speedos, or whatever it is you wear!  In order to say you have actually given this a chance you MUST do it 3 weeks.  It takes 3 weeks to make something part of your routine.  Trust me, the first couple weeks I was dragging my feet to do this but now if I don’t do it I feel like I left my house without my cell phone.

Okay, you get the point on to the Virginia Food Prep Plan Extravaganza!! (Can you tell I am trying to make this seem as exciting as I can?)

Step 1:  Grocery Shopping – you do not have to grocery shop the same day as the day you do your actual food prep.  I usually do though.  I like everything to be very fresh and it just works well with my schedule.  I tend to do my food preps on Sunday.  I go to the gym first thing in the morning then I hit Wegman’s before the church crowds and get home to do my work so I can have the afternoon/evening to spend with my loved ones or folding laundry and texting pictures of Wylee to my mom. 🙂

Here is what I buy:
– Organic 50/50 Spinach Mix – I usually just get a big box of each and mix the spring mix and spinach to my liking.  I like to have both.  As you will see salad is a big part of my diet.

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– Chicken Breasts – I usually get these in bulk from Costco because we go through A LOT of them and it is more affordable to get the all natural ones from Costco then Wegman’s.

– Lots of fresh fruits, veggies and beans

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– Salsa – I really like the Wegmans Roasted Tomato Salsa – it says it is medium but I think it is more mild.

– Taco Seasoning

– Eggs

– Nitrate free lunch meat – I get the most all natural lunch meats I can find

So, then when you get home you unload the groceries and wash all the fruits/veggies.  I wash them this fruit/veggie cleaner I get at the Common Market (Frederick’s Version of Whole Foods by 1,000 times better!).

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Some people make their own Fruit and Veggie wash with vinegar. I may try that once this bottle is all gone.  I will refill it.

Now this next part is very important.  The order of operations here can save you tons of time.  First, you are going to start by making some of what I call “Salsa Chicken” in your crockpot.  This will be the lean protein you use in your “Southwest Salads.”  Ben doesn’t eat salads so he gets his served on brown rice.

Take a bunch of Chicken Breasts (I usually use about 8) and put them in your crock pot with salsa (I use half a jar or more) and taco seasoning (eyeball it to your liking).  Turn on your crockpot.  I put mine on high because I start with frozen chicken and then I turn it later.  The key is to never let it actually boil because I have read a lot of articles that indicate slow cooking preserves the protein in chicken by never letting it reach boiling point.  At boiling point the protein in chicken starts to breakdown. I want all the protein I can get so I keep an eye on this. After about 4-5 hours of slow cooking you will add the black beans, shredded carrots (I buy pre-shredded, “matchsticks” carrots), corn and fresh squeezed lime choice then cook some more.

Okay, so while you chicken is getting started I cut up the fruit into a big bowl like this:

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Isn’t it beautiful? It makes me want to go down to the kitchen and eat a bowl right now.  It is so yummy.  I take a bowl of this with me to work everyday and it is my afternoon snack.  I usually stick with mangoes, strawberries and blackberries as my staples and then I add kiwi and/or blueberries sometimes to mix it up a bit.

Once you have it all cut-up you just put it in containers in the fridge and it is ready to go!

Ladies – when your boyfriend/significant other/husband opens the fridge and sees all the beautiful food ready to eat you will get text messages like this:

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Let’s not forget the way to a man’s heart!

Okay, so the chicken is cooking, the fruit is done.  Next you want to focus on Salad Prep.  I get all my salads ready to go so I just grab a container in the morning, dump it out on a plate when I am ready to eat it and top it with the chicken.  You can use any kind of container you want it.  It should be fairly large.  You should put all the “wet” stuff on the bottom and the spring mix/spinach on top.  You mix it all together when you are ready to eat it.  I usually include: onions, avocado, tomatoes, diced peppers, etc.  You can do any combo you like.  I was hooked on strawberries, avocado and balsamic for a while. I mix it up every couple of weeks. Right now I am really into the “southwest” salads.

At this point I usually take a dishes break.  I load up my dishwasher and wash my wood cutting boards.  Then, I make some brown rice for Ben and I usually put two days worth of sandwiches together for him as well.

I also will cook some eggs whites to have on hand for breakfast.

Okay, so once you do all that it should be time to add the beans, carrots, corn and lime juice to your salsa chicken.

I also sometimes grill some salmon and/or chicken to eat throughout the week during this time.  I really make everything and now I rarely need to cook during the week which really helps!

You can do so much with the Salsa Chicken.  Here is what I do with it:

– I warm it up and put it on top my salad. SO GOOD! You won’t even need salad dressing so it saves you lots of fat/calories and it is virtually fat free anyway.

– I bake a sweet potato in my microwave, slice it open and put the Salsa Chicken in it with a little sprinkle of organic cheese shreds on top.

– I serve it over brown rice

– I just eat with half an avocado sliced on top

Okay, so now that you know what I make let me explain a day’s worth of eating.

I eat breakfast at home or in the car. I eat a light multi-gran English Muffin (they have lots of fiber and protein) and I will eat it with peanut butter some days.  I mix it up and eat one with egg white, nitrate-free Canadian bacon from Costco (check it out) cooked on my Panini press (thanks, mom!).

Then I bring a banana for my morning snack.

I eat the Southwest Salad with Salsa chicken for lunch.

Then I eat the fruit cup I made for afternoon snack.

I usually also bring a small baggie with some high-protein/high-fiber cereal to eat if I am especially hungry.

I also bring my dinner because I eat dinner around 4-4:30 so I can go straight to the gym after work.  So I will bring some grilled chicken, sweet potato, another salad, whatever I feel like – there is usually plenty to choose from.

Okay, so I hope this helps.  In a couple of weeks my girlfriend is going to help me make a video which I will post here and I think that will be better than trying to explain all of this.  You need to see it in action!

Also, as a side note – to make this process more enjoyable I usually watch movies/tv shows on my iPad as I am doing my food prepping.  It really has become something I look forward to as I get very little down time and this has become quite relaxing for me.

Just in case you have not read enough tonight here is a good article on 12 Workout Myths de-bunked that I really liked: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/17/12-common-workout-myths-_n_3288666.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular.

Final words of wisdom: When you are hungry you will make MUCH better choices when healthy options are readily available.  It also helps to hang a picture of a Victoria’s Secret bikini model on your fridge.  I know those girls are unrealistic but it just makes you pause and re-think your goals/priorities. You SHOULD eat LOTS but make good choices.

XOXO

Virginia

 

Hair Product Review – BlowPro

Oh, hair! I have had a love/hate relationship with mine since birth (when I had none).  My hair is naturally curly so as I see the 80’s style fashions coming back into style I am just keeping my fingers crossed the 80s big, curly hair will make a comeback as well.  In the meantime, I am a huge fan of a great “blow-out.” (Not as in love with the name!)

A couple weeks ago my niece and I had a “Girls Night” and we went to the Dry Bar.  It is a place that only does blow-outs. Very simple.  They specialize in and charge $40 for an adult blow-out.  It was so much fun to do this with my niece but my results were nothing to write home about.  I actually think I do a better job myself and the products they used left my hair feeling pretty grimy by the next morning.

Anyway, I love to try new hair products.  My boyfriend was out of town last weekend so I took full advantage and went to Ulta.  When trying a new product I always go for the little travel size contains because I do not want to overly commit.  So, I decided I would treat myself to an at-home blow-out and I wanted some new products to make it more exciting.  Here is what I picked up:

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This is a little blowpro travel pack. Here is the website: http://shop.blowpro.com/?gclid=CNWQjN2Oy7UCFcme4AodXHsArg.

blowpro is a premiere Blow Dry Bar (similar to Dry Bar) in New York that created their own line of products.  Their tagline is that they are the only creators of products to make your hair look better with every blow dry.

I used my regular sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner.  After towel-drying my hair I applied the primer and I sprayed the “blow-up” root lifting spray into my roots and combed through.  I blow dried as normal.  Then, I used the beach waves spray which contains sea salt along with my curling iron.  It gave me great results that lasted for days.  I am very picky about hair products and I especially liked the beach waves spray.  It smells great and made my hair soft, not at all greasy and helped it keep its style and bounce.  Here is a picture of the finished product:

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Happy styling!

Virginia

Sunday Funday

Sundays are so special to me! They are my day to re-group and prepare for the week ahead. I have a very busy work week every week and sometimes have to travel for business so I enjoy taking time to prepare for the week so I can get the most out of each day.

Today I got up at 6 am, ran 4 miles with a dear friend who is helping me prep for a 5k. I went to Body Pump at the gym then came home and made chicken soup from scratch. I got about 5 loads of laundry done and did my “food prepping.” I love food prepping because it allows me to eat healthy while on the go.

I am exhausted so I will just leave you with some pics from my day and then post my food preparing tips later.

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Wylee got a haircut

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At 6:30 am ready to run in 25 degree weather! I am loving the hot pink lululemon jacket I got a few weeks ago!

And lastly some inspiration for the week!

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Fresh and Healthy Luncheon/Brunch Ideas

A couple of weeks ago we hosted a “brunch” to celebrate my birthday.  We wanted to keep it low-key and have the usual great friends/great food combination.  I put together a very simple menu that required little preparation besides grocery shopping.  We set out brunch start time to noon which is why these ideas are also perfect if you are having a luncheon – it is really one in the same.  Noon on Sunday worked out perfectly.  I was still able to get up and get a workout at the gym before getting busy in the kitchen!

We had a fabulous brunch and I wanted to share what I served.  Unfortunately, we were having such a great time that we realized after everyone had left we had not taken a SINGLE picture!  I am sure it was a freudian slip on my part because I figure if I don’t capture any of the birthday celebration moments then it didn’t happen and I can drag my twenties out a bit longer.  So, I am going to use pictures from the internet to give you an idea of all the dishes we had that day.  Thanks to all who came and celebrated with us!

The SIMPLE show-stopper seemed to be the little quiches I made.  I made mine in individual serving dishes from the brand Libbey (that my wonderful boyfriend got me for Christmas).  They look like this:

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 These can be found pretty much everywhere these days.  I see them at Bed Bath & Beyond all the time and that is where he got them.  But I recommend getting them from Michael’s using your Michael’s app coupon.  I bought some of the same “tasting” style dishes there and got them for $10 with my 50% off coupon.

The quiches themselves are simple and you can’t go wrong with them because you can add or take out anything you like.  Here is what I used in mine:

2 eggs per individual quiche (I did two batches of 6 each – so I used 12 eggs total)

A splash of cream to whip in with the eggs

Spinach

Diced Tomatoes

Chopped Onion

Fresh Thyme (save some for garnish as well)

Ham (I did 6 with ham and 6 without)

Thinly sliced potato

Feta (or any cheese you like – just as an FYI – I decided to purchase Fat Free Feta and I don’t recommend it because it was so dry.)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease each dish with a very small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I used a paper towel to do this.  If you are fancier than me then you will use your EVOO spritzer bottle.  I put the potato on the bottom so it will crisp up nicely and make a bit of a crust for your little Quiche.  Then I put all the veggies and meat in.  Whip the eggs with some salt, pepper, splash of cream and garlic powder.  Pour that on top the veggies.  Sprinkle on the feta and thyme.  I put on the individual dishes in a larger casserole dish and put water around them so they bake evenly.  They take about 25-30 minutes to bake and you know they are ready when a knife comes out clean.

If you don’t want to buy the individual dishes then you can make these in your muffin tin.  They will come out like this:

Mini Quiche These are cute also. Since your guests will likely have a couple of these you could have more variety. Here are some ideas of things to add: use O’Brien style hashbrowns instead of thinly sliced potato, chicken or turkey sausage, bacon, chives, green pepper, hot peppers (for a spicy one), black beans for a mexican style…I think you get the idea!

Next I also had a plate of nitrate-free lunchmeats – sliced ham, chicken and turkey breast.  The meats were accompanied by some scrumptious croissants which are always a hit.  I bought a box of fresh croissants from the bakery and thought I would have leftovers – I was sadly mistaken! I am glad everyone helped me enjoy them because they are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine. To add to the meats and croissants there was a plate of fresh baby lettuces, sliced tomatoes and onions.

The salads were my favorite part! The first salad was an avocado/strawberry salad that I found on Pinterest.strawberry salad It is very simple – I used Taylor’s Organic 50/50 mix of baby lettuce and spinach with avocado, strawberries, very thinly sliced onion and sliced almonds.  Serve with your favorite Balsamic Vinaigrette on the side.  So delicious.  I had the leftover for lunch the next with turkey.

The other salad I made for this brunch was a fruit salad of fresh blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, pomegranate arils and raspberries. Everyone kept asking me what I added to the fruit salad and I did not add a thing – that combo of fruit just tastes and looks amazing.  I did somehow manage to take a picture of the fruit salad: pom fruit salad To round out the brunch, we had individual parfaits of low-fat organic vanilla yogurt with a sprinkle of granola and blueberries on top.  They were surprisingly good and looked awesome in the little individual dishes I put them.  I used the Libbey Just Tasting Mini Flare glasses – they come with adorable little spoons.  This is the set I got at Michael’s for $10.  Just Tasting Mini Flare

We did also had a couple of small cheesecakes that we got from Wegman’s as added desserts for my birthday.  We had a chocolate cheesecake and a berry one.  They were great and the small size was perfect the number of people we had and for display purposes also. If only I had pictures.  That is Ben’s job from now on!

Here are some ideas for additional recipes I would have served if I had more time/bigger crowd:

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizzas

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizzas

Hummus and Avocado on Toast with Tomato

Hummus Avocado Toasts with Tomato

Homemade Pitas and Hummus

Homemade Pitas and Hummus

For beverages we served mimosas.  One of our friends brought champagne and Trop50 orange juice. I bought spicy V8 for Bloody Mary’s but we ended up very satisfied with just the mimosas.

I think a great time was had by all.  That was the goal!  I always want my guests to go home feeling full but not bloated and weighed down so I think this selection of food did the trick.  After we ate we went through a whole deck of “Table Topic” cards.  If you have not seen these check them out here: http://www.tabletopics.com/.  They are surprisingly handy to have around.  They are so simple – just cards with questions to get your guests talking.  I learn something new about my friends and family every time! 

Thanks to all who came  out to celebrate with me and happy brunching/lunching to all!!