How To Fit Travel Into Your Busy Life

One of my goals for the year is to travel more! It seems like a lofty goal, however, since having a baby, but with a new RV, a boat, and living in a huge tourism destination, I think it’s totally doable with my friend Sarah’s tips below! She blogs over at CuriousSarah.com and shares vacationing tips and ideas for budget travel. Definitely bookmark her page to help plan your next vacation!

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If you’ve ever “liked” a picture of an astounding foreign landscape or searched for low priced airfare, chances are you’ve come across one of those bloggers who travel year-round and “lives a life of travel”. And it goes without saying that at some point in your internet binge, you felt jealous. Right?

“That’s great for them”, you mutter to yourself. “But I’m not going to sell my home and quit my job for the sake of wanderlust”. And I don’t blame you. 

Perhaps you got wrapped up in the rat race; the mortgage, student loans, car payments and maybe baby car seats. Don’t feel bad. If you postponed your dreams in the pursuit of the American dream don’t feel guilty because you love your family, and you’re grateful you have a place to call your own and you needed a car. Millions of people around the world would, and do, sacrifice everything to have that.

My point is that it’s ok if you’re not one of those permanent nomads. Embrace your life and your responsibilities. But find a balance. Maybe you’re not a self-actualized vagabond but everyone needs a vacation at least once a year. With some strategy, planning and a little resourcefulness, you too can recharge in whatever way is most fulfilling to you.

Whenever I have a seemingly huge task ahead, I try to break it down into its elementary parts and take baby steps.  

What do you need to take that vacation? In most cases, it’s just two things.

Time and Money. 

So let’s tackle those two variables one by one. 

Time.

If you’re fortunate enough to have vacation time, even paid vacation time, good for you. Problem solved and you can read the next part. If you’re not one of the lucky ones, here are some suggestions to carve out a week or more of free time. 

-Think differently about your raise/promotion. Huffington Post writer, Wendy Simmons, says that by forgoing a raise that works out to be another $40 per week, opt for another two or three days of (paid) vacation instead. 

-Talk to your boss about working remotely. Businesses all over the country are starting to adopt this trend, even for just a day out of the week. Studies show that employees who work from home are generally happier and up to 13% more productive (according to Nicholas Bloom, Professor of Economics at Stanford University). Tell your boss they can save on office supplies. 

-Plan trips around holidays. Sure, the lines will be longer and everything a bit more crowded but if that’s the only time you can take, go for it.  

Money.

If you feel a bit strapped for cash on a regular basis, it can be difficult to set aside funds for a trip. The good news is that with a little consideration, many of us can find wiggle room in our budgets. 

There are already a ton of posts and articles about ways to save money (my favorite website is The Penny Hoarder so I won’t go into that. However, there are two simple concepts that seem to go untouched in this category. 

-My first and favorite strategy is to take a detailed look at your finances. Look over expenses for one month and study each and every transaction. Then categorize them, even if it means writing it down and color-coding. 

Pay special attention to your fun/entertainment budget. Are there unnecessary recurring purchases like eating out, coffee, beer and so on? For the most part, you can’t do much to lower your electric and Internet bills so don’t worry about that. Focus on the variables over which you have control and work on those. It may take a couple months to see what works. 

If you usually have a Grande Mocha from Starbucks every morning on your way to work, putting that change into savings could give you $1,172 in one year! 

My second strategy is to make a habit of squirreling away money. So many people are discouraged against saving because after all their bills, they only have a small amount left and they figure, “what’s the point?” What’s important isn’t the size of your contribution, what really makes the difference is establishing the habit and letting time work for you. 

If you save just $20 per paycheck (assuming you are paid bi-weekly), you’ll have around $520 at the end of the year. You could have even more if you saved all your change. With just a few simple changes, you can save $1,672 for your yearly vacation. 

“But Sarah,” you ask. How am I supposed to have a vacation for $1,672?

If you travel hack using credit card miles (like The Points Guy), you can earn a free or cheap flight. Using this method, I have flown to Mexico for $27 and Spain for $5.50. In a nutshell, find a credit card that offers you rewards for things you’d buy anyway. You could use your rewards for airfare, hotels, and sometimes a credit on your statement. 

Using AirBnB or any of the various home stay websites out there, you could get a week in a private apartment for $100. And you have $1,500 to spend however you please. I’ve used Couchsurfing to stay for free in three countries and I used WorkAway to organize a volunteer stay for about $3 per day (with all the homemade food I could eat). I’ve heard great things about House Sitting websites to which you pay a small annual fee that is less than a quarter of a nice hotel room, and you get more space and a kitchen!

These suggestions might not get you a luxury vacation in those over-water bungalows in Fiji (although you could certainly implement these tips to accomplish that) but all we need is time away in a new place. If it really means that much to you, which it should, make traveling a priority.

And when I say “traveling,” that doesn’t mean you have to get on a plane or cross any borders. There are plenty of adventures to be had in your own backyard.

The Dalai Lama suggests that we go somewhere new once per year. Listen to one of the wisest people on Earth and make travel a priority. And don’t feel guilty if you decide to take your vacation instead of flying back home for Thanksgiving. 

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Sarah is a writer loving life in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not reading to her baby in Spanish, running her husky or drinking wine with her husby, she’s either hiking, writing or reading about budget travel. She has also been known to practice calligraphy with her morning coffee from time to time. For more details on how to fit a vacation into your busy life, or what it’s like to get tattooed in Thailand, visit CuriousSarah.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

So will you be using these tips for travel? Where are ya headed for your next vacation?! I’m hoping for a camping trip to the Keys or the Ocala National Forest..sometime before it gets WAY to hot in Florida!

Allow Me to (Re)Introduce Myself

My About Me page DESPERATELY needed an update…I don’t think I’ve made an edit to that page since, like, day 1 of my blog…oops…

So here we go… Allow me to reintroduce myself… 🙂

Hi! I’m Jackie, a new mom, marathoner, student of dietetics, and lover of all things health, fitness, and living in the sunny state of Florida! 

Welcome to my blog!

Fresh Fit Florida follows my adventures in (new) motherhood, running, trying all sorts of fun fitness things, healthy eating, cake devouring, and of course being a tourist where I live. 

I started my health journey in 2012 during a time I really need to find myself and work on me. I hit my neighborhood gym’s treadmill and just ran until I couldn’t. Somewhere during this time, I decided to register for the Princess Half Marathon at Disney for 2013. That was back in the day when you didn’t need to register at 12pm on the dot!

I fell in love with running and competing that half marathon was my proudest accomplishment. I even ran a half marathon before ever doing a 5k!

Just before that race, at the end of 2012, I met my now husband, Brian. We moved in together that summer and got our first baby, Macy.

He proposed that fall on a Caribbean cruise and we got married in 2014. We just had our first baby, Reagan, in December of 2016!

I started blogging in 2015 as a way to share healthy recipes, cute workout clothes, my marathon training progress, and to share foods coming from the wonderful state of FL #eatlocal ! I also enjoy writing about anything and everything in between and over my blogging journey have learned you don’t specifically need a niche. I love connecting with others and sharing on their health journeys and swapping advice along the way.

So that’s a lil bit about me…I’d love to hear more about you…so introduce yourself in the comments!

Valentine’s Day Splurges

Can’t believe it’s already February and it’s almost Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day is always a fun holiday to celebrate. Not that I need a single thing, but I couldn’t resist joining in the gift guide fun with a roundup of some splurge worthy items I would love to receive for heart day! 

Here are some V-Day splurges…and I’m not talkin’ calories! 😂

  1. These leggings are so look amazing. They also make a pineapple version that I adore as well. This is one thing I will probably treat myself to once I hit a few fitness/weight related goals with my postpartum journey. I’m a firm believer in #treatyoself to motivate yo self, so I’ll provide a review once I take the plunge and reach my next goal!
  2. How perfect is this Kate Spade gym bag? Obsessed with the bow detail and how it perfectly fits a yoga mat..but I’d probably be too nervous to bring it to a group fitness class for it to sit on the dirty gym floor…. 😁
  3. Wholeheartedly makes THE prettiest necklaces…would love to receive one of the pretty rose gold hearts for V-Day.
  4. Not really a ‘splurge’ since the gold lady planter is at a good price point, but it’s totally not something I need at all. Especially since if it’s green and a plant there’s no doubt it’ll be dead before it comes home with me.
  5. Have you heard of Tieks flats? I’ve seen them promoted on Pinterest, but never really thought about them until my mother in law showed me the pair she purchased. She swears by them and says they are super comfortable, plus really cute. Just super 💸
  6. Where my TIU girls at?? Love this mug! If I bring home another coffee mug my significant other will probably have to throw away 10 just to make room, but how cute is it?! #tiuteam
  7. Omg this curling iron is not only beautiful, but according to other bloggers and reviews, it’s ah-mazing. I wish I could afford it rn, because I need a new curling iron…it be hella expensive. But isn’t that the fun of making a splurge wish list??

 

 

Are there any items on your wish list? I also won’t say no to some good chocolates…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Easy and Fun Date Night In!

As new parents, not only is it hard to get out for a date night, but it’s also super easy for us to push our relationship to the bottom of the priority list. We’ve been trying to make time for ourselves and this fun and sexy game from my friend Natalee at Kissing Often has come up with an easy option for all couples to enjoy a night in!

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Hello there everyone! My name is Natalee and I am the founder of Kissing Often. My passion is keeping the love alive in relationships. I believe that it is important to keep the romance and intimacy in your relationship alive and well, but if we’re honest sometimes it’s really hard. Kids, crazy schedules, and work then before you know it the day is done and you’re beat! 

My goal is that I can help keep that spark between you and yours. My site is completely dedicated to fun and creative ways to spice things up. There you will find intimacy ideas, date night ideas, and simple ways to let your sweetie know that you are thinking of them, and you appreciate them. Many of our ideas are able to be done from home too! All you have to do is print out our adorable free printables that accompany each idea and you’re set! 

I am so excited to be sharing one of my latest ideas with you all today! It’s called The Dice Game (super creative title, I know). But trust me, give these a roll and you’ll see just how fun this intimate bedroom game will be! 

Easy and Fun Date Night In- Dice Game

Not only is this game simple and easy (because we have done all the hard work for you), but it is super fun! It’s always a blast when you can take something as ordinary as dice and turn it into an intimate idea for you and your spouse! I love making up fun little ways to take ordinary games and making them fun for the bedroom. 

This game is perfect for everyone! Whether you are on a tight budget and can’t get out, are new parents and don’t have a sitter, or you just want to add some sizzle and surprise in the bedroom. 

So allow me to explain how this little game works. You’ll start off by putting together the dice that we have included in your printable pack. Simply cut them out and tape or glue them together. Let’s be real though, tape is easier and faster. Now the game goes like this. You and your sweetie will take turns rolling the dice. If an ODD number is rolled, then whoever rolled that number must remove an article of clothing. If an EVEN number is rolled, then that player must draw an action card! Whatever the card says, the player who drew that card must do immediately. 

Easy and Fun Date Night in- Dice Game

Of course you have everything that you need in the printable pack that we have put together. There you will find dice, action cards, an invitation to leave for your sweetheart, and the rules of the game. A little tape, you, and your sweetheart is all you need to make this happen. 

You can get your FREE printables here : Dice Date

For other fun ideas please visit me at http://www.kissingoften.com/ 

Thanks for reading everyone! Hope you all enjoy!

So what do you think of this fun game?? How easy it is to pop open some wine, print off the cards, and enjoy a sweet night in together! Thanks Natalee for sharing!

Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins

There’s a running joke in my house that if I’ve made any kind of baked good, it’s been made with buckwheat. It originated one Christmas when I attempted butter cookies, but subbed whole wheat flour instead of regular flour and they tasted like crackers and it was pretty disgusting. I set the plate of cute little cookies on the counter for Brian so he could have one right as he walked in the door. Who wouldn’t be excited for Christmas cookies when you get home from work?? One bite in, he spit it out and asked if I made them with buckwheat.

Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

So ever since, he thinks that’s my go to ingredient. One time there was an accidental pancake mix up where buckwheat was in fact used, but hey, at least he had pancakes.

Anyways….

Brian likes these muffins. First, he’ll skeptically ask ‘What’s in them?’ right before taking a bite. It’s actually a cake recipe I’ve adapted from an event I worked once at a Whole Foods. There isn’t any buckwheat flour in these, but they are full of healthy ingredients.

Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

These double chocolate muffins have no refined sugar, they are high in fiber, and can be vegan if you use unsweetened baking chocolate. I added chocolate chips to the batter for a double chocolate chip muffin. More chocolate chips make everything better IMO.

The original recipe is actually for a cake, but I wanted muffins/cupcakes so I could portion control and freeze some for later. But have your cake and eat it too…

Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Here’s what you need and how to do it!

Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped
  2. 1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  3. 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  4. 2/3 cup pitted dates
  5. 2 tsps espresso powder
  6. 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
  7. 1 1/2 cup cake flour
  8. 3 Tbsp cocoa powder
  9. 2 tsps baking powder
  10. 1/2 tsps baking soda
  11. pinch of salt
  12. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a blender, combine almond milk, apple sauce, dates, espresso powder, and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, cocoa powder, and salt. Add blended date mixture and stir to combine. Add melted chocolate and mix together.
  3. Spoon 1/4 cup of the batter into each muffin tin. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the muffins and enjoy!
Adapted from Whole Foods recipe
Adapted from Whole Foods recipe
Fresh Fit Florida http://www.freshfitflorida.com/

I like these muffins for a quick, portable snack or for an after dinner sweet treat. They are best served a little warm, so nuke ’em for 15 seconds to get those chocolate chips a little melted.

I made these a few years ago for Valentine’s Day and frosted them with vanilla frosting and lots of pink sprinkles! 

Healthy Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

Let me know if you try them!

7 Reasons to Workout

We always need some new reasons to motivate us to workout right?! I know I do! Something that always gets me going is new activewear. New clothes make me feel good and that makes me want to do something good for myself, so getting new workout clothes is often what will motivate me. Now that I’m postpartum, cleared to workout, and ready to shed some weight gained during pregnancy, I needed some pieces that would transition for this time that I’m in between sizes and dropping pounds.

Just ordered this Under Armour tank off Amazon. And it’s prime. Helloooo. 🙌🏻

This bag would be cute to hold all your gym essentials.

I recently got a top like this from Khols and it’s so flattering and cute for throwing on over a tank for yoga or if it’s a little chilly.

Loving the color blocking trend that’s been going strong for the last few years now. The blush color makes these leggings really pretty!

The cool back detail on this bra is really fun. Would love it for under a cut out tank!

Can’t go wrong with Victoria’s Secret and their new workout bralettes. If they worked with my larger size, I’d own them all. Plus they’re about $20 and usually on sale, so stock up!

I used to hate joggers. I never liked the look of them. Now I cannot wear them enough. Loving the striped detail on these, again from Amazon! Can you tell I’m obsessed. Okay, two day shipping and great prices…I can’t be the only one…

 

What gets you moving?? Where do you like to get workout gear from??

 

 

Immune Boosters in a Bottle: 5+ Essential Oils that Work!

Photo source

I’m new to using essential oils, but find them so interesting and relaxing! My friend Enozia, from Bloggie to the Rescue, is sharing some favorite oils for an immune booster! If you’re like me and wanting to try to incorporate essential oils more into your 2017 routine, then this post is for you! Btw, lavender oil is my absolute FAVORITE!

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Immune Boosters in a Bottle: 5+ Essential Oils that Work!

Photo source

In the recent years, essential oils have received a lot of importance, and possibly turned a lot of people into natural health enthusiasts. From providing pain relief to improving skin health- they worked well, and won hearts. But there’s a different side to essential oils that’s not talked about a lot- their ability to boost immunity.

Let’s dig deep and uncover the best essential oils that work towards boosting immunity and improving health.

Lavender Oil

Known for its soothing and calming effects on the body, lavender oil is one of the best essential oils for sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleep disorders, but its effectiveness in boosting immunity is highly underrated. When used in the right way, it allows the body to heal and restore, and establish a sense of overall well being.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil is probably the most versatile essential oil out there. When used topically, it has the ability to cure headaches, and when ingested, it can cure indigestion and other common digestive system problems. This oil can be particularly helpful for individuals trying hard to stick to a healthy eating routine, since it has the potential to curb cravings, especially for sugary foods.

Lemon Oil

Lemon in general, has a detoxifying action, and the essential oil derived from it does just that! When taken in the correct dosage, lemon essential oil can help purify and cleanse the blood and stimulate the expulsion of toxic waste accumulations from the body.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil packs in powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties which makes it an excellent natural immune system booster. Some studies have also found it to work well in fighting skin cancers, and it did turn out to be a winner by demonstrating a rapid reduction in the size of cancer tumors after its use.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary essential oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, both of which make it a good immune booster, particularly for when seasonal cold makes rounds. Massaging the body with this oil can also stimulate lymphatic drainage, which helps detoxify the body naturally and strengthen it from within.

Thieves Oil

Thieves essential oil is often added to natural home cleaners thanks to its antibacterial action. It is basically a powerful blend of different essential oils that helps strengthen the internal organs, reduces minor aches and pains and supports healthy function of the body.

All in all, essential oils are a great way to improve health in many ways- and strengthen your immunity against various infectious diseases the natural way! So go ahead and make them a part of your daily life!

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Do you use essential oils in your daily routine? I have a diffuser that I’d like to use more often! Share with us how you use oils and if you’d like to try them!

Thank you Enozia for sharing! Enozia Vakil is a writer and social media enthusiast. She loves reading and watching movies. When she’s not working obsessively, she’ll be found watching dog or bunny videos. 

 

25 Get To Know Me Questions

1. What is your middle name?: Marie, after my button-hole relative Auntie Marie

2. What was favorite subject at school?: Hmm that’s tough! It definitely wasn’t math in middle school…I want to say speech and my theater classes in high school. Then in college I studied hospitality management, so the wine tasting class wasn’t half bad! 😜

3. What is your favorite drink?: COFFEE. WINE. WATER. 🍷

4. What is your favorite song at the moment?: Hallelujah..the Pentatonix version. It makes me sob my eyes out.

5. What is your favorite food?: Bread. And cake. #balance

6. What is the last thing you bought?: A little haul from Old Navy with a gift card- adorable onesies for baby, new leggings and a sweatshirt for me, and pants for Brian.

7. Favorite book of all time?:  Harry Potter hands down! 👇🏼

8. Favorite Color?: Anything in the coral/pink family

9. Do you have any pets?: Ms. Macy Mae!

10. Favorite Perfume?: Burberry Brit..Sadly I’m all out!

11. Favorite Holiday?: Christmas for sure!

12. Are you married?: Yes, will celebrate three years of marriage this fall!

13. Have you ever been out of the country, if so how many times?: Yes, on multiple cruises to Mexico, the British Virgin Islands, Aruba, Dominican Republic, and on my honeymoon to St. Lucia!

14. Do you speak any other language?: Nope

15. How many siblings do you have?: None! I’m an only child. So is Brian!

16. What is your favorite shop?: Ahh love shopping, so that’s hard to choose just one!

17. Favorite restaurant?: Berns Steakhouse in Tampa, FL. Read all about it here.

18. When was the last time you cried?: Last night, in the middle of the night, when our little one was a tad bit fussy

19. Favorite Blog?:  Can’t pick just one! I’ve connected with so many awesome bloggers and I love reading what everyone posts. I am obsessed with Emily’s style from The Sweetest Thing and I’ve followed Taralynn from Simply Taralynn for YEARS and have loved reading her journey!

20. Favorite Movie?: Miss Congeniality

21. Favorite TV shows?: Grey’s Anatomy, Law and Order SVU,

22. PC or Mac?: Mac!!!

23. What phone do you have?: iPhone 6plus, but I think I’d go for a smaller one when I’m due for an upgrade.

24. How tall are you?: 5’5

25. Can you cook?: For sure. Love to cook!

So there’s a little bit of random info about me! I’d love for you to pick some questions and share with me about you!!

Ring in the New Year with New (Healthy Plant-Based) Recipes

The New Year is always a great time to realign fitness goals and reassess your health. One of my goals for 2017 is to incorporate more veggies into my diet and enjoy more plant based meals. My friend Lotte, who blogs over at www.LotteLee.com, is sharing some new and delicious plant based recipes and how she eats a vegan diet and how it works in her household. Thank you Lotte for sharing this post with me and my readers! Here’s to a healthy, veggie filled 2017!

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If you’re a parent you know how halfway through the day you promise yourself that today is going to be the day that you feed your whole family one meal (gasp) that is both healthy and tastes amazing? Or maybe you’ve decided to take on a dietary lifestyle change this year and you’re ready to incorporate the whole family.

But then life happens.

There are sports and music classes to attend. A conference scheduled at the last minute that you cannot miss. If you have a little one in the house you just might be too darn tired to even function at a normal level, much less pull a meal together. Be there, done that…to every situation listed.

I’m human so there are days when mac-n-cheese or pizza is the only thing I serve my kids for dinner while I slurp down a smoothie or dig my way through a bowl of cereal. It happens. The other days though I try hard to give my family a well-balanced meal that fits all our needs and taste buds.

Did I mention that I’m vegan? Let me explain how that works in our house.

I choose to eat a plant-based diet. My husband is a good ol’ Southern boy and enjoys his steak and potatoes. Our kids fall somewhere in the middle. My theory is that just as I could choose, someday they can too. For now though, we have a good mix of all kinds of foods.

There are some nights that I completely forget to cook meat at all. I’ve been eating this way for so long that I know what each meal must include to fulfill all our nutritional needs. (Please note that I am not a nutritionist or dietician. I am merely a mom who reads an insane amount of information.) Even if the meal is a one-pot or four-ingredient meal, I make sure that there is at least a protein and a vegetable in each.

There are always the typical easy meals that you think of when you think of vegan meals: black bean chili, vegetable soup and roasted veggies. All of which are fabulous meals that even I fall back on when needed. Fortunately, there are people out in the blogging community that know their way around a kitchen and have, over the years, inspired me to expand my culinary skills and try new things…if they’re easy and don’t take a lot of time of course.

Here are some of my favorite, easy-to-make plant-based meals for any family to enjoy this new year.

For the working-chauffeuring-homework-helping mom: Coconut Quinoa Curry
http://www.simplyquinoa.com/slow-cooker-coconut-quinoa-curry/

I am a HUGE fan of all types of Asian cuisine. Thai, Indian, Chinese. You name it, I probably have at least one vegan meal that I am obsessed over. Alyssa at simplyquinoa.com makes it possible with this meal to be able to throw everything together in the morning before heading out to work, to school, to anywhere that you need to be.

Personally, I like that this meal has a bit of spice to it. However you may want to leave out the chili flakes if someone in your family doesn’t like spicy, like my kids. I just add the heat to my bowl afterwards.

For those of you wondering where the protein is, it can be found in the quinoa and from chickpeas. When cooked, quinoa has roughly 4.4g of protein per serving and chickpeas can have up to 20g of protein in a 100g serving size (that’s roughly 8 tbsp.). Combined, the two pack a mean protein filled punch. If, like me, there are members of your family who must have a meat as part of the meal, grill an Asian inspired breast of chicken. You could use Teriyaki or Soy Sauce for flavoring, but try to grill the meat since it is one of the healthier ways to cook.


photo via www.simplyquinoa.com

TIP: Chop the ingredients the night before and throw them in a bag or container together. I also like to have all the non-perishable ingredients out and ready on the counter when preparing so that when I am getting ready in the morning I can dump everything in, turn the slow cooker on, and not worry about it taking too much of my time or making too big of a mess.

For the one who likes to eat outside after being in all day: Chickpea Veggie Burgers
http://runningonrealfood.com/chickpea-veggie-burgers/

Oh man, I love “burgers”. Black bean burgers, quinoa burgers, and especially these chickpea veggie burgers. These have two of my favorite ingredients in them, peanut butter and chickpeas, and they are simple to make. Grill these with some roast veggies or sweet potato fries and a side salad and you have a meal everyone in the family will enjoy. Plus, you saw how much protein is in chickpeas, right? And don’t forget that, should you use it, peanut butter has 7g per every two tablespoons.

If there is a peanut allergy in your home, or you’re concerned about a friend with one, you can substitute any of the following: tahini, sunflower butter, or soy nut butter. There are many alternatives in grocery stores today that allow you to avoid nut butters. We are big fans of peanut butter in our house but my son has a friend at school with a nut allergy so he takes a sunflower and jelly sandwich to school instead. He says he can’t tell the difference and we applaud his compassion towards others. So, while we eat peanut butter, literally out of the jar with a spoon in our house, we make every attempt we can to think of others…just in case.

photo via www.runningonrealfood.com

TIP: I’ve found that plant-based burgers do better on the grill when you prepare them in advance and let them spend some time in the refrigerator. When it is time to grill, rub some olive oil on the outside (coconut oil is my favorite but the grill tends to be too hot for it) before cooking. You can also add flax seed to the recipe for added nutrients and for a stronger “hold”.

For the “I’ve only got 30 minutes tonight” person: Sweet Potato, Black Bean & Kale Quesadillas
http://cooknourishbliss.com/2013/03/04/sweet-potato-black-bean-and-kale-quesadillas/

Black beans are a main source of protein for me. I do eat tofu and drink protein smoothies often but beans have been a staple for me since I became a vegetarian (years before I converted fully to eating plant-based fulltime). Thankfully there are lots of delicious recipes that have black beans as the main source of protein (we are talking 6g per every 100g serving).

I’ve found that my kids become vegetarians when we go out for Mexican food; all they ever want is cheese quesadillas…sigh. I did mention that pizza and mac-n-cheese are huge hits in my family, right? Their love for all things breaded with cheese spills into all cuisine types. They do enjoy black beans though so I can usually talk them into adding those to their plate as well.

Thankfully, everyone in our house loves kale. Okay, maybe love is a bit too strong of a word but there is at least one meal that each person truly enjoys that has kale in it. Having sweet potatoes along with the black beans and kale makes for a hearty and filling meal. Plus they are so delicious!

This recipe does call for cheese and suggests sour cream as a topping but I make mine without and everyone else chooses if they want the cheese or not. (I’m all about choices, within reason.)

photo via www.cooknourishbliss.com

TIP: If you are 100% vegan or would like to maintain a plant-based diet lifestyle you can always go with a cashew nut cheese or a store-bought cheese substitute. I prefer not to eat heavily processed foods so I suggest trying the quesadillas without any cheese or cheese substitute first.

There are so many types of easy to make plant-based meals out there. Don’t make it hard on yourself and be forgiving if you would rather pick up a pizza or order takeout one night. Only you know what your day is like. Treat yourself kindly and fill your belly with some homemade love when you can. You and your family will be so thankful for it.

Lots of Love!

 

 Lotte Lee, a bookworm from the South, is a self-described gym-loving, vegan-eating, business junkie. Besides being a mom to two amazing kids, wife to a loving husband and master (or is it mistress) to an adoring pup, she is a writer/blogger at www.lottelee.com, momtrepreneur, and co-owner of GreenRose Marketing. Lotte Lee is currently devoted to empowering other moms to take control and create the life every woman deserves. It takes some serious grit to do it all but with a little grace and a lot of gratitude Lotte Lee believes anyone can become successful in all aspects of their lives.

Are you trying to eat healthier this year?

Marathon Weekend Outfit Inspo

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A year ago I was anxiously awaiting running my very first marathon! What a fun time that was! Marathon weekend at Disney is one of my favorite races. It’s such a great way to kickoff the New Year and a really fun race weekend. I will certainly miss participating this year, but I cannot wait to cheer on my running buddies this weekend!

One of the best parts of marathon weekend is that it’s theme is the fab 5 Disney characters. Such a classic theme and a great way to kickoff a new year of runDisney. It’s also super easy to come up with a cute outfit for the races. There’s so many options out there for whichever character is your favorite!

 

Are you running a race this weekend?? I’ll be cheering between mile 12-13 for the half on Saturday! Good luck runners!