Blog

Sweet Potato Turkey Chili

Sometimes, chilly Sundays call for some CHILI. As much as I can’t stand football, there is something oh so delightful about that warm stovetop dish waiting on for me while I struggle to get up from the couch on a Sunday afternoon. There are so many different variations on this recipe.  Depending on my mood I will put quinoa or sweet potatoes as the carb. Another 1 pot meal, my friends, so very doable for those who are busy and need a crock pot meal for evenings. But if you like to meal prep early in the week, make extra so that you can heat up later on. The great part about chili is that it absorbs the flavors the longer it’s in the fridge or cooked.

Also, this can easily be done in a stove pot or the crockpot. As I was feeling particularly lazy, I made this in a stove top Le Creuset that we got as a wedding gift last year. As for the carb, I chose sweet potatoes since I had lots of leftover peeled potatoes from Thanksgiving asking to be cooked in the fridge.  I do not use food labels, but this is a very nutritionally dense meal that is paleo and grain free, uses all food groups if you follow exchanges or macros. Enjoy, and let me know what you think!

IMG_2950

 

Ingredients:

IMG_2949

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 lbs of ground turkey (you can easily sub beef or ground chicken)
  • 2 cups of Chicken Bone broth (chicken/turkey stock work as well)
  • 1 tbsp Pink Salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder (I use habanero chili powder from Whole Foods)
  • 2 medium sized green peppers chopped
  • 3 medium sized chopped Jalepeno peppers
  • 1 can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 can Pinto Beans
  • 1 can White kidney beans (Rinse & dry ALL beans before cooking, it will help with the aftermath that is usually associated with beans…)
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp of ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 large peeled sweet potato (or 1 cup of quinoa)

Fixings for when it’s done:

  • Sliced Avocado
  • *Cheddar cheese to taste
  • *Siggis Yogurt or plain yogurt of your choosing
    • ** omit these 2 fixings if you are following a paleo or dairy free diet

I recommend you eat it with Siete Tortilla Chips or another grain-free tortilla chip!

What to Do?

  • Let pot heat up on the stove, pour Avocado Oil, enough to cover bottom of pot.
  • Sear onions and garlic, once browned, add in chopped jalapeños and green peppers on medium heat.
  • Once peppers are browned, add in ground meat. Then add all spices, letting it stir, and brown. (Salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, don’t add oregano yet) Once meat is browned, lower heat of pot. Keep covered.
  • Add in bone broth/chicken stock, waiting a few minutes for that to heat up. Then, add in chopped potato, beans, 2 cans of diced tomatoes.
  • Stir that all up, adding in oregano leaves (I like to use FRESH, it makes all the difference)
  • Let that simmer for 2 hours. Stir every 15 minutes. I prefer it thicker, so you can mange how much liquid you would like to drain or let cook into the ingredients for nearly all day. It just depends how much time you have!
  • About 1/2 hour before you are ready to eat, add 2 cups of spinach, and the juiced lime.
  • When you are ready to eat, give it one last final stir! Add yogurt, mix it in, adding sliced avocado and cheese to taste. Grab your chips and prepare to be amazed!

IMG_1356

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Fall Blog?

I don’t know about you guys, but I LOVE reading others’ blogs about the BEST season ever…FALL! I live for the fall. I wait all summer to put on my boots, go apple picking, and of course…drink the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte. However, this year I take a little bit of a different approach on fall, as I look through the lenses of natural living. Over the past year, I have transformed my lifestyle to be as non-toxic as possible. This year, I’m doing my homework. Last year, I must’ve gone through the Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts drive throughs on the daily just to get my pumpkin fix. #addict Not this year. I am adamant about staying away from artificial flavorings, dyes, and too much added sugar. On the other hand, I absolutely stress balance and intuition, so if I’m strongly craving something I will not deprive myself. If there is a suitable replacement for something, as there is with pumpkin lattes, then that’s the route I go. Last week, I got an amazing latte from Zest Eats NJ, and there are lots of ways to DIY the beloved PSL-all you need is some coffee/espresso, almond milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon/cardamom/nutmeg like spices, and honey or maple syrup to give it a little oomph!

Now what’s fall without coffee? The 2 ingredients I am loving right now in my daily java fix are almond milk (try the New Barn’s Barista Blend found at Whole Foods) and Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides! What THE HECK are collagen peptides?? Ummm, only like the best powdery white stuff ever! You can check the benefits out here, but I want to share what this amazing stuff does for me. Collagen Peptides are protein, and an incredibly easy source, as all you have to do is scoop and they dissolve. Completely tasteless, no odor, and the best part is that they give your coffee a little foam! I do not use this as a meal replacement, just another way to get more protein in at breakfast time. I have noticed considerable differences in my hair/nail strength, gut health, fitness performance, and more. The benefits are countless, and that’s why I never go a day without consuming them! After my fitness sessions, I drink their chocolate collagen whey, which is basically drinking a fudge brownie, because I have found that whey protein gives me the ultimate muscle fuel after my work-outs. When combined with collagen, I get the best of both worlds! The other great thing about Vital Proteins is that they are pasture raised, grass-fed, Whole 30 approved. They also sell travel packets which are amazing for travelers, and people who are constantly on the go. I am just starting to experiment with baking and Collagen Peptides, so stay tuned for some awesome fall themed baking recipes. Until then, these blogs will be fueled by collagen and caffeine!

Finding success in your fitness routine as a beginner

Today at the gym, my instructor assigned us partners. Now, we NEVER do anything partner related, so this threw us all for a loop. No BSing your way through a partner workout that’s for dang sure-accountability, folks. However, my middle school PE class self was not that worried because at least the partners were assigned as opposed to having to worry about who was going to choose you. I digress. The girl next to me and I exchanged worried glances. I apologized for my granny panties (lace underwear and nearly transparent under armor material are not allies apparently), she apologized that her legs were shaking. Anxiety and nerves filled us even though we made the choice to continue on. Could’ve said, ummm sorry NOT happening. But we persevered. My partner was a super sweet girl who I’ve actually admired in classes before. She is amazing at Zumba and I told her that during our shared session. She said, “yeah, but I can’t really do anything else…” in between sit-ups (and I thought she was doing a great job, so I was confused). She asked me, “I see you come in here all the time. How do you know what you’re doing? You just come in here and work out on your own? It seems like you have such strength that helps you in the classes. I don’t know how I could do that.” wooooooooooah. that took me by surprise. Me? You’re talking to the girl who quit Planet Fitness because I was gymtimidated. I gave her a brief rundown of how I figured it all out (or why it appears I have it figured out because I most definitely don’t.) But I spit it out so fast, that I don’t think it stuck. So, I wanted to share with you guys some tips on how to not be so intimidated, or at least how to start a routine.

The traditional way that I learned to find a routine at the gym is to work on a different body area each time you go. So Monday: shoulders, Tuesday: legs, etc. etc. This does not work for me, and also my gym doesn’t have that many weight machines. It’s hard to get into the whole body area routine when there aren’t machines that specifically target certain areas in isolation. We have bosus, TRX cables (I guess that’s the word for it), a few actual cable machines, kettle bells, booty bands, and equipment that you could theoretically do everything at home with. At first, I thought that would be a nuisance and an extra challenge, and quite frankly, who needs MORE challenge when you are already trying to put in the work to create a lifestyle? The flip side here is actually a benefit, because when you’re not solely using weight machines, you end up inadvertently involving other body parts in your workouts in tandem. Nonetheless, it’s still difficult to establish a routine when you don’t know how to use any of the aforementioned equipment. So, I did start with a personal trainer, BUT I was super curious once I started to fall in love with fitness, and started doing some more exploring. That’s when I found BBG.

I think that BBG (Bikini Body Guides) is an amazing place to start!!! Kayla Itsines is the creator, and she is a 25 year old personal trainer from Australia. If you want to learn more about her and BBG in depth click here. Kayla has guides that can be purchased OR you can download her Sweat with Kayla app which is absolutely awesome. There’s recipes, work outs for 76 weeks, challenges each week, and more. The idea is that you complete 3 resistance sessions a week (arms, legs, abs) that are 28 minutes long: 2 circuits composed of about 3-5 different exercises that can be done completely at home or at the gym. Minimal equipment. 3 cardio sessions comprised of 2 LISS sessions and 1 HIIT session a week. The resistance sessions do work all areas of the body even though you are honing in on either abs/legs/arms for each session. One catch is that the App costs $20 a month. For a while, I stopped the app as I didn’t want to pay for that. BUT it’s super helpful for me, and it’s my fallback routine, so I am back to paying for that! If you don’t want to pay for a gym membership, $20 is not so bad! Cut out like 1 meal out, and you’re good to go.

BBG can be done at home completely. If you go to  you can check out Tiffanie being a total boss BABE for proof of this. She literally does jump squats using her dining room chairs instead of benches. Not advocating for ruining your dining room table, but you get my point! And there’s plenty more where that came from in terms of modification with at home items. It’s so fun to add the dynamic of getting creative with what you can use at home to modify the workouts. I think it would probably be wise to invest in some equipment, just so that you’re time is more invested in the workouts rather than finding ways to be creative ALL of the time. A few different sized dumbbells would be ideal. And if you don’t know what that looks like-3 and 5 lbs would be the best if you’re a complete beginner. I would go up from there. Speaking of beginner, the Sweat with Kayla app has about 8 weeks (I believe!!), where you are pre-training to become conditioned enough to start at Week 1. So don’t be alarmed if you think you are completely incapable. Don’t get me wrong, her workouts are INSANE. Usually, I think to myself, how can I get through an hour of bootcamp at the gym, but 28 minutes of this is torture. I think there’s a few different reasons for this…which I will maybe explore in a future post. All of those have to do with why I am TEAM AT HOME WORKOUT! You have nobody to be accountable to but yourself. You are your own motivation, your own cheerleader. Sometimes this is hard, because you don’t have the support of others. But you also don’t have to worry about thinking that someone is wondering what the heck you are doing at the gym!

When I stopped doing Sweat with Kayla, for a few weeks I was using the Nike Training Club app. Which is completely free, and molds everything to your own personal preferences. You put in how active you are, how much you like to work out, etc. However, most of these work outs need to be done in a gym. The equipment needed is just too much. The workouts are varying in intensity, which I appreciated. And varying in amounts of time, so if you need to get in a quick HIIT session, the option is there.

I also know that Beach Body has an ON Demand program, that has access to work outs that can be done at home or at the gym 24/7. I personally do not use it, but I have heard about people loving it, and having so much success with it! I’m not talking about Beach Body as a whole, just the On Demand programs.

The last work out program I will talk about is Tone it Up! This is my new, all time favorite. Started by beauty queens, Karena and Katrina. The biggest issue, though, is the price. You are not able to access their full programs unless you pay $150.00. I still have not done this. I am highly considering it, based upon how obsessed I am with the access you get to their free programs. These ladies are super motivational, inspiring, and I feel like they “get it.” Sometimes you want to work your butt off, sometimes you want some yoga zen, and sometimes you want to do #WineNotWednesday. They do tons and tons of work out videos, and every new season has a different “program.” For instance, the bikini series is coming up soon. I LOVE working out with videos, and the exercises are challenging but doable, so you don’t feel mentally defeated.

Perks of both BBG and TIU are online and in person communities primarily on Instagram, but on Facebook, too. I have connected with both New Jersey groups, which plan meet ups regularly. I know that BBG has meet ups internationally, and TIU does meet ups around the country. So, you can find fitness friends for sure.

This is not foolproof, but I think that I gave you some great resources to start. I would love to know what kind of assistance you need in starting a fitness routine, or what works for YOU. Are you #teamhomeworkout or do you NEED to go to the gym?

Live out your rainbow! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

 

 

Finding it.

Oftentimes all we ever hear is how we just need to find the balance in life.

But WHAT does that look like?

This past year before my wedding, I never had any intention of “getting fit.” Sweating for the wedding? UM what. Why would anyone assume I was taking care of myself because I wanted to look toned in a dress? After my recovery from anorexia, I’ve always looked to find a balance. Something important in my recovery was that the clothes are meant to fit your body and not the reverse. So after enduring the road to finding health, I was wrestling with this whole “sweating for the wedding thing.” Let’s just say, I wasn’t a fan.

Part of suffering with an eating disorder is having a completely unhealthy outlook on life in all ways. I do think however, part of my inner turmoil was the struggle to find peace. (which heck yeah happens to be my “word” of 2017). Starving myself and using eating disordered behaviors really did work for me to help me cope for many years. After a long and intense battle, I saw the light, and let go of the eating disorder.

Fast forward about 6 years into my recovery. In that time, I completely gave up exercise. And I literally HAD to when I “stopped” being sick. It was an all or nothing thing for me. Exercise had to go in order for me to find peace with my body again. And I never wrestled with that. I was content. I found joy again, and the reality of not exercising other than leisurely did not bother me-like at all. And in turn, my relationship with food was completely normal. I did not struggle with food. I picked whatever I felt like, didn’t bother with portion sizes, nothing. I never looked at a food label. Never checked my weight.

But about 2 years ago, I joined a local Planet Fitness. I honestly cannot recall what brought me into the gym or why I signed up. It was summer time, and I was tired of feeling winded after a long walk or a hike.Weight loss was never a goal for me when I walked into the gym. I really felt like a “normal” person when it came to how I felt about food, exercise, and body image. And I actually really loved the message of Planet Fitness. They say “judgment free zone.” I don’t think anyone was ever actually executing that “mission” if you will, but the principle was a nice idea (sorry PF). And my now-husband has always been into fitness, so I contemplated integrating physical activity into my lifestyle when I saw how interested he was in it. Note that there were several years we were together when I could care less that he went to the gym and I didn’t. It just never bothered me. And it still doesn’t “bother me,” but I do think in the long run it has had a positive effect on me. Nevertheless, I was never “serious” about my fitness routine during this time of my life. As long as I was getting my blood flowing a little bit, while getting connected with my body again, I was happy.

Nonetheless, sometimes I had to fight the thoughts of going too “extreme” at the gym. I too was guilty of looking at other people envying how they could run so fast, or why they looked so much leaner than me. I continued to fight the good fight. I knew in my heart that fitness didn’t have to look like an eating disorder, but couch potato also didn’t have to be my norm. I just had to work a little harder than your average person to discover the in between. So here I found myself again in the past 3 years, trying to find a balance without going extreme. All in all, I can say at this point I made peace with my body, stopped hating it, made peace with food, but I was searching for something more.

One year ago, I was on an elliptical at Planet Fitness, and once again disgusted by the men gawking at me as I walked in. I did not think I had the courage to up and quit, but with rage and the disrespect I felt from the catcalling, I walked up to the woman at the front desk, and quit. A super impulsive move, but I’m so thankful to myself for doing that.

I left that gym happy and confused all at once. YAY! I’m DONE with that place. But what am I going to do now?? I scoured the internet to find something fitness-esque in my area that I felt I could connect with. There is a local all women’s gym that I knew of, but wasn’t quite sure about. And nothing had that perfect Yelp review I was so desperately trying to find.

But again, I looked for the courage inside of myself and walked into the gym, asking if I could try it out. Signed up for the membership just kinda hoping for the best. It just so happened that I was able to sign up for the “New Year’s Special” and I thought UGH great, now they’re going to judge me and think how this girl is never going to come around but YAY we got her money anyway! The next month I signed up for personal training so that I could get to know the machines and the gym. I think this is what really developed my relationship with fitness into a healthful and fantastic way of life. I learned how to use machines, how to do tons of different exercises (even without machines-so how cool is it how we can transform our own body’s strength on its own??!) Then, one day on the treadmill, I was watching “The View,” of which I was an avid viewer because what could ever get your blood pumping faster than watching women yell at each other!? And I saw Kayla Itsines on the show giving a little workout tutorial to the women. I was completely amazed by her, and how a woman could have so much strength, and just completely “get” this whole fitness thing. I wasn’t that avid of an Instagrammer, so didn’t really have too much exposure to the whole women in fitness ideology. (Not that Instagram is the only game in town for this, but it surely is a wonderful platform).

Around that time, her app “Sweat” launched, and I downloaded the free trial. It was such a great way to work out without feeling the pressure of constantly thinking about what you are going to do at the gym each day you go, especially if you don’t have a trainer to do the thinking for you. So I started the App, and I have really enjoyed it, but IT WAS SO HARD. I was so confused about how the workouts could truly be that difficult if I already started building some strength and stamina at the gym. And I put so much pressure on myself. Wondering if something was wrong with me, or why I couldn’t push that hard. Cue using everything I’ve learned in my eating disorder recovery to keep myself in CHECK. I never wanted to go back to that, and I didn’t, but it’s cool that some of the skills and the things I learned on that awful journey can actually be applied to my life today.

In those first few months of joining this woman’s fitness center, I was still cautious. Still trying to find where I fit in with fitness. One day, I again practiced courage, and stepped into the back of a Zumba class. Thinking to myself, “Oh gosh, I don’t know the moves, everybody here is dancing so well, they know everything…um…oh no, that lady is giving me a dirty look- did I take her beloved ‘spot’?!?!” But I kept challenging the thoughts, and using positive self-talk. “Michelle. Everybody starts somewhere. These ladies probably go to class every week. That’s how they know the moves. You have a dance background. You will pick the moves up quickly enough. Look up, smile, have fun!” I kept integrating that positive thinking pattern, and I began to have such a great time doing ZUMBA! I love, love, LOVE Zumba for so many reasons. Maybe, I’m late to the game, but a fitness activity that doesn’t track anything, no counting, no yelling, just people enjoying themselves and having fun. I feel like I’m just letting loose, and not working out. It’s amazing! And about your beloved spots-ladies and gents-next time just smile at the person who walks in late or for the first time. How on earth is anybody supposed to know that they took your spot?

I was falling in love with fitness day after day. I was passionate about it for sure. Feeling good, having so much energy I didn’t have before. Wanting to chase the world around me.

I ended up joining other classes at the gym and building my confidence in many other ways (which I will definitely expand upon in future posts). I found a community, a sisterhood for sure.

I’m really enjoying this part of my life, because I’m working hard to find that peace. It’s a learning curve that I find enjoyable.  I don’t think balance is ever actually attainable, at least for me. Life just always swings you a teeny bit more in one way than another. Yet, if you have an ideal of what you would like balance to look like for your life, then it becomes easier to set goals, and figure out how to reach them. So I encourage ya’ll to hit the “Reset” button. Find what works for you, no matter how many times you have to try and try again. Eventually, it becomes more natural to reach peace and positive energy in life when you have a good understanding of what works for YOU.

I hope my own life journey can inspire someone else to take a path to wellness. Wellness has countless interpretations, but it really is worth it to discover what wellness looks like for your life so that you start to wake up in the morning and feel like you can take each day and crush your goals, and chase your dreams. Don’t just wish for wellness, but find it.

Live out your rainbow!