Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hearty Venison & Butternut Squash Crockpot Stew

In the past two weeks we have made this recipe twice. It is from our 21 Day Fix EXTREME Eating Plan, and it's another recipe that we love! Joe and I have probably said 100 times since we started this new program, that Autumn Calabrese hit it out of the park with the nutrition plan! 

I did adjust her recipe to fit us a little better. I turned it into a crockpot recipe, because hey, who doesn't love being able to throw a meal in in the morning and letting it cook on it's own all day?! :) 

{Makes 6 servings, approximately 1 1/4 cups each}


  • 1 1/2 lbs. raw venison {or lean beef} stew meat, boneless
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped {I used yellow because that's what was here.}
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup low-sodium organic beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt {Mineralize}
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  1. Place all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours. 
  2. Remove bay leaf; serve topped with parsley.
  • 1 Green
  • 1 Red
You can store individual portions of cooked stew in refrigerator for up to four days, or freeze for up to three months.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Truths

Good morning, friends! Happy Tuesday!

I hope you woke up with a smile on your face. :) If we are being honest, and I guess I am with it being my "Tuesday Truths" post, I was a crabby apple when I woke up this morning. I am not a morning person though. I need a good half an hour or so to truly wake up, but I am sitting here now smiling and excited for the day, so that's something, right?!

Truth: I love my morning workouts. I will miss my partner in crime this month though. He has a big project happening at work, which means he will basically be living at the store during March. :( I will keep plugging along though, because this is part of my lifestyle. 21 Day Fix EXTREME, let's do this!

Truth: I love when you find a fun gift you totally forgot about. #StarbucksHereICome

Truth: My parents are pretty awesome sending Joe and I a gift card to go out to eat for our anniversary. #NowToFindTheCourageToGetASitter

Truth: Leland's manners kill me. Everything is, "Tank you, Momma." "Tank you, Daddy." :) #StayThisWayForever

Truth: Speaking of Leland, he just walked in here and saw and owl on the screen and shouted, "owie!" I love how he says that.

Truth: A new show launched Sunday night on ABC and Joe and I cuddled up to watch. I am thinking it will become a regular way we end our weekends now. #SecretsAndLies

Truth: Rylee wanted curly hair, so after sleeping in braids Sunday, waves are what she got yesterday. #FancyGirl
Truth: Today is National Pancake Day. Did you know that? I had no clue until my friend said we should hit up iHop with the kiddos. You get a free stack of pancakes; can't beat that! #EatPancakesAllDay

Truth: I need to go get the wee ones up. We need to get ready for the day. Heading out to study Ephesians with some friends and then we need to get home and open up the books. :)

Have a great day!

Be sure to stop by tomorrow morning. I will be sharing our new favorite supper recipe. We had it last week and again last night. Easy, healthy, and you can just toss it right in the crockpot!

Questions for you: 

  • What is one truth for you today?
  • Are you going to be eating pancakes today?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Help! I Started a Workout Program and I'm Gaining Weight!

I love Chalene Johnson. She is the first trainer I "worked out with" when I came off bed rest two years ago and bought my first challenge pack. TurboFire will always be one of my *favorite* workouts. I was looking over her stuff today and came across this great article and wanted to share with all of you. I get asked this question quite often from my challengers. 

{By Chalene Johnson via interview from Spark People}

Probably the most common question I get when I release a new exercise program is, "Help! I'm gaining weight! Am I doing something wrong?" This is a common phenomenon with any new exercise program, such as Turbo Kick, Turbo Jam, Hip Hop Hustle, or others! It's especially common (and temporary) with intense strength training programs like ChaLEAN Extreme or Tony Horton's P90X.

The motivation to start a new exercise program is almost always to lose weight. However, what most personal trainers know--and most at-home exercisers do not--is that a new exercise program often can cause an immediate (and temporary) increase on the scale. (Notice I didn't say weight gain! I'll explain.) This common increase in the scale is also the reason why perhaps millions of people start and then quickly quit their resolution to get fit.

The temporary weight gain explained:

When someone starts a new exercise program, they often experience muscle soreness. The more intense and "unfamiliar" the program, the more intense the muscle soreness. This soreness is most prevalent 24 to 48 hours after each workout. In the first few weeks of a new program, soreness is the body trying to "protect and defend" the effected or targeted tissue. Exercise physiologists refer to this as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.

This type of soreness is thought to be caused by tissue breakdown or microscopic tears in muscle tissue. When this happens, the body protects the tissue. The muscle becomes inflamed and slightly swollen due to fluid retention. This temporary retention of fluid can result in a 3- to 4-pound weight gain within a few weeks of a new program. Keep in mind that muscle soreness is not necessarily a reflection of how hard you worked. In fact, some people feel no signs of muscle soreness, yet will experience the muscle protection mechanisms of water retention and slight swelling.

Most people are motivated enough to put up with this temporary muscle soreness. Yet, many, especially those who really need immediate weight loss to keep them motivated, become discouraged and quit!

When I worked with a group of 70 test participants during the development stages of ChaLEAN Extreme, this happened. Who was the most upset and discouraged? You guessed it... the women! I'm happy to report absolutely for every single woman and man) in our group, the weight increase was temporary and never lasted more than two weeks before they started to see a major drop in the scale. However, these people had the advantage of working with someone who was able to explain to them why this was happening and assure them the weight would come off if they stuck to the nutrition plan and stayed true to the program.

If you follow a multi-phase exercise plan, such as ChaLEAN Extreme, keep in mind that when you start each phase, your body will be "in shock" again. Don't be surprised or discouraged if you experience a temporary gain on the scale the first week of each phase.
My own personal example of this is running 10Ks. I don't do it very often, maybe once or twice a year. Even though I run on a regular basis, when you run a race, you push much harder. It's natural for me to be insanely sore the next day. It’s also very common for me to see the scale jump 4 pounds the next day from forcing fluids post race and the resulting DOMS. Even though I know the cause of it, it's still a bummer. We're all human and hard work should mean results. Hard work equals results, but our bodies are amazing machines and they know how to protect us from hurting ourselves. Soreness forces you to give those muscles a break. Ultimately you will lose the weight and you will change your metabolism in the process.
The key is understanding that this is a normal and temporary and stick with the program!

When to be concerned: 

If you experience a significant weight gain (exceeding 5 pounds) that does not begin to decrease rapidly after the second week, guess what it is? I'll give you one hint... you put it in your mouth and chew it. You know it! Your food (or calorie-laden beverages). News flash, friends… exercise doesn't make you gain weight. Consuming more food than you burn makes you gain weight!

So if after two weeks you are not losing weight and have gained weight that's not coming off, it's time to take a close and honest look at your food intake. Start using SparkPeople's Nutrition Tracker regularly, and be honest.

Moral of the story: Be patient young grass hopper. You'll be lean and mean in no time!

Movie, Munchkins, Meal Prep... Oh My!

Happy Monday, and happy MARCH! Where is the beginning of 2015 going?! I can't believe we are in the third month of the year! That's just crazy to me. Super excited that spring is so near now though!

I wanted to take a couple minutes this morning and get some pictures off my phone from the weekend.

On Friday we wrapped up school for the week.

We read stories and took naps.
Beep, beep!
And we ended the night with family movie and popcorn.

Oh, and with potty lessons too. :)
Don't mind his princess headband. He has two sisters, right? :)
Saturday this one was tap, tap, tapping on the patio door. He has learned how to unlock doors. At least he had his sister's boots on, right?! #WeAreInTrouble
Pants? Who needs pants??
Rylee is such a little book worm! I love it!!
Reading every chance she gets.
Seriously... this kid! Super fly.
Lil Buck
Sunday we had some family yoga time. I wish I could move as easily as the kids. Willow flew back in that bridge so quickly. And Joe... he is getting stronger and more flexible everyday. A couple months ago, no way he would have been able to do that move.
Family Yoga!
The girls had musical practice yesterday afternoon, followed up by AWANA. Joe took them in and worked at his store until they were done. 

That left Little Man and I home alone. When I told him it was nap time, he went and hid here. :)
Where is Leland?
While he napped, I was able to prep our food for the week. 
Meal Prep Sunday
It was a great weekend around here. Hope you all had a good one too!!

This morning I am linking up with Katie over at Healthy Diva Life and her Marvelous in my Monday party! Thanks for hosting, Katie!!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Favorites

It's Friday, my kids are still sleeping, and I am going to let them sleep in a little longer this morning because we had home group last night and were up a little later than usual.

Shall I take some time to share some of my favorites? :)

I am linking up with Erika, Andrea, and Narci this morning to do so. Love their weekly link-up.

First up, Joe and I celebrated being married 9 years on Wednesday! The message he wrote meant a lot. Words always mean so much to me.

"Nine years ago today our lives changed forever, we walked down the isle and vowed to spend the rest of our lives together. If time is going to keep going this fast then I don't think the rest of our life is long enough because I want to spend more time with you. God has really blessed me with you because you are the best wife, mother, and friend that I can imagine... way better than I deserve. So happy anniversary baby, I love you."

My SIL also posted a really sweet message that I loved reading too: 

"Happy 9 year anniversary to my brother and SIL! Your relationship has given me faith in a happy long lasting marriage! If I am lucky one day I will find someone who cherishes me like you do each other! I love you both more than words can express!"

Our kids were so sweet. They spent some time in their room on Wednesday quietly preparing presents for us, presents that they shopped around the house for. :) {We were gifted a couple tea cups from our kitchen cupboard, a wine glass, a nail file... things like that. :) }

Second, Bible study! We are digging into Ephesians right now, and it is intense! Jenny and the kids came over yesterday, and it gave Jenny and I a chance to get into the Word together.

Meanwhile the kids decorated the cupcakes that we were taking to home group.

We put Oreos in the bottom before baking. YUM! Oh so good, and yes, oh so not healthy. ;)

Can you tell which little man was just about headed to nap?!

Third, this video inspires and encourages me so much! I WILL NOT let Type 1 Diabetes DEFINE or LIMIT my son!!!

This is Chris Clark. He is making history by being the first T1D athlete to cross the finish line at an UltraMan Race. This incredible athlete is a Type 1 Diabetic and did the entire race finger pricking blood checks and insulin injections based on how he felt. He had no pump, no monitor, absolutely nothing other than the basics. 
PLEASE share his story!!! He wants to bring awareness to the Type 1 Diabetic Community that ALL things are possible even with this auto immune disorder!

That's all I have today. I need to get going, get the kids up, get school done and enjoy this Friday! Hope you have a great day!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

21 Day Fix EXTREME Wraps

So far we have tried nine recipes from our 21 Day Fix EXTREME Eating Plan book, and not one of them has disappointed. The kids have loved every meal, and Joe has been surprisingly impressed. Joe is an awesome cook, so he is not a big fan of me trying new recipes once he has gotten our meals just so. Apparently Autumn Calabrese not only has the fitness portion figured out, but she has hit the nutrition out of the park as well. 

Tonight we had these wraps. They called for turkey, but as usual in our house, we subbed that out for venison. Also, these would be amazing on romaine lettuce, but we had yellow containers left and opted to put them on whole grain tortilla wraps.

I did throw in black beans, as well as some quinoa that we needed to use up.

{Makes 6 servings, 1 wrap each}


  • 1 1/2 lbs. raw 93% lean ground turkey breast {We used venison.}
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt or Himalayan salt {Mineralize}
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped {We used yellow, because that's what was in the house.}
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce, no sugar added {4 oz}
  • 6 large lettuce leaves, washed, dried {We used whole grain tortillas}
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add turkey; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, or until no longer pink.
  2. Add garlic powder, cumin, salt, chili powder, paprika, and oregano; mix well.
  3. Add onion and bell pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. 
  4. Add water and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Top each lettuce leave {or wrap} evenly with meat mixture, tomato, and cilantro.
  • 1 Green
  • 1 Red
  • *If you add black beans, 1 Yellow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Truths

Truth: I have been a bad blogger. I *want* to blog, but life is busy right now and I am just not finding the time.

Truth: The girls started rehearsals for the Easter musical they are in. They both have parts as narrator.

Truth: Leland is sick. Last Thursday he came down with a fever and is still not 100%. It's moved on to a bad cough and runny nose.

Truth: The annual Spelling Bee was last Thursday. This was Willow's first year participating. She didn't even hesitate going up on stage. {She was shy though. When they gave her her first word, she stood there forever, but then she spelled it out correctly.} I didn't get a picture of her, because this was when Leland came down sick and was in my arms, but I do have video to share later.

Truth: I tried a fun new hairstyle Sunday. We had mommy/daughter matching hairstyles for church.

Truth: Sometimes it is just not fun to go down for nap time. Although, most days I would trade places with him in a heartbeat. Naps rock!

Truth: Joe and I are on week two of the 21 Day Fix EXTREME and loving it! This program is intense, but Autumn knows what she's doing, that's for sure!
Joe's making fun of me with that nice face, haha!
Truth: Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary... 9 years! Where does the time go?!

Truth: I read that spinach possibly helps with blood glucose control in diabetics, so you bet I am sneaking this leafy green into Leland's daily Shakeology!

Truth: The girls baked a cake all by themselves... absolutely no help from me! I was so proud of them; it tasted awesome! {Yep, I swayed from my fix plan to try some.} They told their dad they were having a party for him because he goes out and makes all the money for us. :) So sweet!

Truth: Two-year-olds are only entertained with each activity you give them for about 2 seconds before they want to move on to the next. ;) Or at least my two-year-old.

Truth: Leland somehow managed to get his leg stuck in the couch Friday night. Like stuck. As in Joe had to work to get it out.

Truth: The next day, Snooter got her nail stuck in her collar. Joe had just left and I called him to come back the 40 minute drive to help get it out. I couldn't handle the chaos, haha. Dog yelping, little man crying, girls squealing.

Truth: Willow earned the "Quiet Seat" award at AWANA on Sunday, and was so excited to come home with a new package of nail polish and a nail file. Guess what we did yesterday? :)

Truth: My WI Badger girl is getting so big, and she told me to tell you she loves cheese!

Truth: My mouse batteries keep dying on me, and it is causing this post to take 10 times longer than it should. That's my cue to sign off.

Have a great Tuesday!!

What is one truth in your life today?